The Atlantic Ocean must have marked Thursday on its calendar.
That is the annual climatological peak of hurricane season, and right on cue Thursday, the Atlantic produced one of its busiest days of the year. There were two tropical storms whirling in the mid-Atlantic and a quartet of tropical disturbances that are expected to strengthen in the coming days.
The closest system to Florida is an area of low pressure that was a few hundred miles northeast of the Central Bahamas, according to the National Hurricane Center’s 5 p.m. Thursday advisory. While the system will likely cross over our state on Saturday, forecasters don’t expect it to strengthen until the system leaves the Florida peninsula and enters the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
The system was given a 40 percent chance of strengthening into a tropical storm or depression in the next five days by the hurricane center. It’ll likely bring heavy rains to Tampa Bay, which is expected to have a 70 percent chance of rain Friday and Saturday.
“We may need to upgrade rain chances to 80 percent as that wave comes from the east,” said Spectrum Bay News 9 Chief Meteorologist Mike Clay. “Today’s the peak of hurricane season and we surely have a lot to watch out there ... At the peak of the season, you can’t ignore anything."
The newest disturbance popped up in the Gulf off Florida’s west coast on Thursday morning but doesn’t appear to pose a threat to the state. The hurricane center said it could move west and south for the next few days without much chance of development — 10 percent in the next two days and 20 percent in the next five.
Every Sept. 10 is recognized by scientists as the climatological peak of hurricane season in the Atlantic. That means that, at least on paper, we’re halfway through what has been one of the most active hurricane seasons on record. Since 1966, 75 percent of hurricane seasons have had at least one named storm on Sept. 10, said Colorado State University research scientist Philip Klotzbach, one of the leading hurricane forecasters.
This year, there were two named storms on Sept. 10: Tropical Storms Paulette and Rene, both of which have a chance at becoming a hurricane — but will likely do so far from Florida or any other land. Both storms are deep in the central Atlantic and are expected to take a turn to the northwest, entering colder waters before dissipating thousands of miles away from land.
While the tropical disturbance near the Sunshine State will likely grab the eyes of most Floridians, its two disturbances off the coast of Africa that forecasters are keeping a closer watch on.
“Those could be troublemakers into next week,” said Clay.
One of the tropical waves was located a few hundred miles southeast of the Cabo Verde Islands on Thursday and was producing disorganized showers and thunderstorms. It is expected to strengthen into a tropical depression by this weekend while it moves westward across the eastern and central tropical Atlantic. It was given a 90 percent chance of formation in the next five days.
Another wave near the African coast isn’t expected to develop soon, according to the hurricane center, but they’re still monitoring it for next week. It may become a tropical depression as early as next Monday, according to the center, but it is expected to move slowly westward. It was given a 40 percent chance of formation over the next five days.
The next named storms of this season are Sally, Teddy, Vicky and Wilfred, and then that’s it. Meteorologists will start naming storms after Greek letters such as Alpha, Beta, Gamma, etc. The last time storm names ran out was during the 2005 hurricane season, which remains the most active on record. There were a total of 27 named storms that year.
2020 Tampa Bay Times Hurricane Guide
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