Don, the first hurricane of the Atlantic hurricane season in 2023, intensified into a hurricane on Saturday.
The National Hurricane Center gives names to tropical disturbances that have sustained winds of at least 39 miles per hour. A storm is categorized as a hurricane if winds reach 74 mph; at 111 mph, it becomes a major hurricane. Don’s sustained winds were estimated by the National Hurricane Center to be 75 m.p.h.
On Saturday in the late afternoon, Don was traveling north at a speed of 12 mph and was about 480 miles from Newfoundland, Canada. According to the Hurricane Center, the hurricane did not pose a threat to land and was forecast to diminish Monday night or early Tuesday.
This year, Don is the fifth tropical cyclone to strengthen into a tropical storm. (The Hurricane Center stated in May that it had reevaluated a storm that had developed off the northeastern United States’ coast in the middle of January and that it had found that it was a subtropical storm, making it the Atlantic’s first cyclone of the year.)
The announcement on Twitter:
NHC has determined that a subtropical storm formed in the Atlantic basin off the northeastern U.S. coast in mid-January 2023, and it will be designated as the first cyclone of the 2023 Atlantic season with ID AL012023.https://t.co/6idLKYJqjL pic.twitter.com/f047dch647
— National Hurricane Center (@NHC_Atlantic) May 11, 2023
However, Arlene, which developed in the Gulf of Mexico in June, is the first named Atlantic storm of this year since that storm was not given a name retroactively. According to Philip Klotzbach, a researcher at Colorado State University who specializes in hurricanes, Bret and Cindy soon followed, making 2023 the first year since 1968 that there have been two named storms in the Atlantic Ocean at the same time.
— Philip Klotzbach (@philklotzbach) June 23, 2023
The storm names for the 2023 Atlantic hurricane season, which began on June 1 and ends on November 30, were announced by the National Weather Service.
A “near-normal” number of 12 to 17 named storms was projected by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for this year in late May. After two extraordinarily active Atlantic hurricane seasons in which forecasters ran out of human names and had to turn to backup lists of Greek letters, there were 14 named storms last year. (In 2020, there were a record 30 named storms.)
Atlantic hurricane season 2023
In contrast, NOAA’s estimate for this year did not convey a great deal of conviction, stating that there was a 40% probability of a near-normal season, a 30% possibility of an above-normal season, and a 30% risk of a below-normal season.
There were signals that the Atlantic Ocean may be warmer than usual, which could cause storms, and that the West African monsoon season may be more intense than usual. Storm activity during the monsoon season can result in stronger and more persistent Atlantic storms.
El Nio, a sporadic climate phenomena, made an appearance this year in June. It may have a variety of impacts on global weather, including as a decline in the frequency of Atlantic hurricanes.
As the main hurricane forecaster for the Climate Prediction Center at NOAA, Matthew Rosencrans said in May, “It’s a pretty rare condition to have the both of these going on at the same time.”
El Nio increases the amount of wind shear, or the shift in wind direction and speed from the surface of the ocean or land into the atmosphere, in the Atlantic. Increased wind shear instability reduces the likelihood of the calm circumstances necessary for hurricane formation. In the Pacific, El Nio has the opposite effect, causing the amount of wind shear to decrease.
But there is still a potential that a strong storm will make landfall even in hurricane years that are ordinary or below average.
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Storms Holding More Rain as Climate Change Warms Air
That possibility grows as climate change gets worse. Scientists generally agree that hurricanes are getting stronger due to climate change. Additionally, even if there may not be an overall increase in named storms, major hurricanes are becoming more likely.
Storms’ potential to drop large amounts of rain is also being impacted by climate change. A named storm can hold and produce more rainfall as a result of increased air moisture content due to global warming, as was the case with Hurricane Harvey in Texas in 2017, where certain regions received more than 40 inches of rain in less than 48 hours.
Additionally, scientists have discovered that storms have slowed over the past few decades and are now stationary for longer periods of time.
The amount of moisture that a storm may absorb rises as it slows over water. In 2019, for instance, Hurricane Dorian slowed to a crawl over the northwestern Bahamas, resulting in a total rainfall of 22.84 inches in Hope Town. This is because when a hurricane slows over land, the amount of rain that falls over a particular location rises.
Other possible implications of climate change include increased storm surge, quick intensification, and more expansive tropical systems.
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