Atlantic Tropical Update Updated: Humberto is Back

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The big, current, story in the Atlantic is, of course, hurrican/tropical storm (there is some confusion on the status of the storm over the last 12 hours) Ingrid. Regardless of how it is classified, Ingrid is going to cause major flooding in Mexico.

But over the next several days a second and potentially very interesting but less threatening story is going to develop. The first hurricane of the season, almost breaking the record for the latest first Atlantic hurricane that we’ve observed, was Humberto. Humberto degraded into an unnamed storm, a bloby stormy thing, moving roughly north way out in the Atlantic south of the Azores. But now exHumberto is expected to get reorganized into a named storm and possibly even turn into a hurricane again. The think is, Humberto is very far north and moving farther north. If Humberto becomes a hurricane, even if only briefly, it could be the most northerly such event in recorded Atlantic storm history. Even if it becomes a tropical storm and never develops to full hurricane status, it may be impressive.

Humberto is currently located between about 25 and 20 degrees north latitude. Here are a few items from Wikipedia’s page on Atlantic Hurricane Records that may pertain to evaluating Humberto’s potential uniqueness.

Update: Humberto has reformed as a tropical storm, and is called “Humberto.” Humberto is moving towards the North Atlantic tropical storm graveyard, but even as the storm moves over colder water extratropical conditions may cause it to increase to near hurricane strength. Meanwhile, there is a disturbance located east of the Yucatan which is expected to move in to the Bay of Campeche over the next couple of days where it has a reasonable chance of turing into a tropical storm, headed roughly in the direction of Ingrid, which has been very bad for Mexico.

1960 – Hurricane Ethel reached Category 5 intensity at 28.1° N, farther north than any other storm in the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea or Atlantic Ocean. Ethel’s intensity is debatable and Hurricane Carla in 1961 may hold the record, becoming a Category 5 at 27°N.

1971 – Hurricane #2 became a hurricane at 46°N, the highest latitude a tropical storm has been upgraded in the Atlantic.

1973 – Hurricane Ellen became a major hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale at 42.1°N, further north than any other storm.

1988 – Tropical Storm Alberto was classified a tropical storm off the coast of Massachusetts, which is further north than any other tropical storm on record.

2005 – Hurricane Vince formed at a record northeast point in the Atlantic, however, this record was later broken by Grace in 2009. Vince also became a hurricane further east than any storm in Atlantic history at 18.9°W.

Regarding the north-most record, Atlantic Hurricane #2 (1971) formed into a hurricane so far north that Humberto seems unlikely to beat that record. But Alberto, in 1988, seems to have been the farthest north tropical storm. Alberto became a tropical storm at 41.5 degrees north (last observed as a depression at 40.0 degrees north).

Humberto is moving west-northwest at 10-15 miles per hour and could become a tropical storm as late as four or five days from now. So even if Humberto hurries north (and gets a thousand miles or so in that direction) and delays formation, the storm is unlikely to convert to a tropical storm before it reaches 40 degrees or even 30-something degrees north latitude. But, Humberto may well come in second or third like it did last time on its race to fame.

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