It's only June, but three tropical systems are already brewing... should we be concerned?
The tropical Atlantic sparked to life on Monday with two spots being groomed for potential development and one earning tropical cyclone status over the enticingly warm Gulf Stream current.
National Hurricane Center meteorologists said Bill – the second named storm of the 2021 hurricane season – is likely to be born from Tropical Depression Two, which formed off the coast of the Outer Banks early Monday.
While “almost all of the intensity guidance shows the system becoming a tropical storm”, it has a short window of opportunity before it moves to cooler waters and out to sea sending rough surf to the Carolinas but avoiding Bermuda.
As of 5 p.m. Monday, Tropical Depression Two was about 200 miles east of Cape Hatteras with 35 mph sustained winds. It was moving northeast at a swift 18 mph.
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Colorado State University hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach said in a social media post that Monday's busy tropical outlook map showing the three areas of interest was something he would expect to see in September, not mid-June.
The average B-named storm doesn’t typically form until July 16, he noted.
“It’s a little early for it to be this busy, but it’s not unheard of,” said Brian Wimer, a senior meteorologist at AccuWeather. “I don’t think this says anything about the season in general because what’s happening now in early to mid-June has little to do with what’s going on in the heart of the season in September.”
The forecast for the potential Bill has it reaching 50-mph wind speeds before sputtering out within 48 hours.
What may be more concerning to the U.S. is the sloppy area of low pressure over the Bay of Campeche, which as of Monday afternoon had a 70% chance of development over five days.
Dubbed “Invest 92L”, the system is expected to poke around near the coast of Mexico through mid-week before making a move toward the Gulf Coast. The NHC said it is likely to become a tropical depression, but regardless of formation, could send heavy rains into portions of the northern Gulf Coast beginning Friday.
As much of 15 inches of rain is being forecast for Central Louisiana over the next week, with the Weather Prediction Center showing 2 to 5 inches of accumulation in the Florida Panhandle.
Of 12 named storms that made a U.S. landfall during the record-breaking 2020 hurricane season, five hit Louisiana.
The National Weather Service in New Orleans is already mentioning the potential for heavy rain from the system in its forecast but said pinpointing the location of the rain is "futile right now."
Weather models struggle with areas that haven’t formed yet. Track forecasts Monday were taking the system anywhere from Mexico to western Louisiana.
“There is still a fair amount of uncertainty but it could form in the western Gulf of Mexico and drift northward toward Louisiana as opposed to Florida,” Wimer said. “Potential flooding, especially in places that have had wet weather the past month, is a certainly a risk.”
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Claudette follows Bill on the 2021 list of hurricane names.
A tropical wave off the coast of Africa also piqued the interest of NHC meteorologist who gave it a 20% chance of development over five days.
Bryan Norcross, a meteorologist for WPLG-TV in Miami and a hurricane specialist, called the wave “unusually robust” in his storm blog Hurricane Intel.
But the wave is under a slug of Saharan dust, which should thwart much strengthening. It will also confront storm-dampening upper-level winds later this week.
Norcross said the Saharan dust is heavy enough that it could turn South Florida’s sky a milky color late this week, and he warned not to write off the spin in the eastern Atlantic entirely.
“It’s a strong enough disturbance that it will bear watching downstream,” he said.
The Weather Prediction Center has coastal Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast at a marginal risk for heavy rainfall that could produce flooding on Tuesday. Marginal is the lowest level on the threat scale. Coastal Broward and Miami-Dade counties have a slight, or 10 to 20%, chance.
Sunday's rain measured .78 inches at Palm Beach International Airport. So far this month, rain at the airport has reached 3.13 inches, which is about a half-inch below normal for mid-June.