Tag Archives: atlantic hurricanes

2024 Atlantic Hurricane Season

It starts.

Tropical Storm Alberto has formed in the Gulf of Mexico, just to the right of Actual Mexico.

As I write this, Alberto is making landfall as a naty storm with 50 MPH winds, downgrading quickly to a 35 MPH storm that will dissipate over land. However, the wet and disturbed air remaining from this storm will cross the country of Mexico and emerge incoherent in the Pacific, where it may become a weather feature of interest.

When the nucleus two atoms of a certain size range are mushed together by gravitational forces, the force that holds the elements of atomic nuclei and the mass of the nuclei themselves interact at the quantum level in a way that transforms that combination of matter and energy into a different mix of matter and energy, with much more energy and much less matter. IE E = MC2. This happens regularly inside our Sun, and some of that resulting energy can contribute to the formation of a hurricane.

I’ve left out some details.

One detail is this: Atlantic Hurricanes form amidst massive air currents that translate some of that sunsourced energy into the movement of air around the equator and from the equator northwards towards the North Pole. That movement of air and associated transfer of heat between the atmosphere and the ocean can be regular (aka “Neutral”) in form in the Pacific ocean, or it can be irregular (aka “El Nino” or “La Nina”) in the Pacific. The El Nino and La Nina forms of movement of air and transfer of heat involve either a blowing out of heat from the ocean into the atmosphere or the absorption of more than average amounts of heat from the atmosphere into the ocean, respectively.

So imagine you are an Atlantic hurricane forming on a long hallway carpet that is itself being pulled forward. As you move forward the air around you swirls and moves in just the right way to facilitate your increased spin and make you bigger, and the heat that comes up from below you adds energy to your spin. But suddenly the carpet gets bunched up way down the hall, way farther than you can see (in real terms, on the other side of the Earth). That disrupts the whole thing, and the forces that were spinning you up and giving you strength are reduced and made more chaotic. Maybe you’ll form into a full hurricane, maybe not. But even if you do, you won’t be the best hurricane you can be. That bunching up of the carpet was the disruptive El Nino pattern of equatorial air and ocean interaction.

Now imagine the same scenario, but way ahead of you, instead of the carpet bunching up, a force is pulling it along a little faster and more efficiently. Now, the effects causing your spin-up are enhanced, and the overall energy you take in is increased. Now, the chanced that you will reach hurricane strength and form are increased over “neutral” conditions, and the overall strength and size you may achieve is greater. That is La Nina.

Now imagine a second factor other than the carpet: overall heat. The warmer the surface of the Atlantic ocean over which you are forming, the more likely you are to become a hurricane, and the bigger and/or stronger you can become. The bunching-up aka El Nino phase of the climatic carpet system adds heat to the atmosphere everywhere, which increases the heat of the Atlantic Ocean’s surface, that energy source down below the carpet. But while El Nino is adding heat, it is also disrupting the process. But, if El Nino ads a bunch of heat and then goes away, the heat remains for months as it slowly dissipates. Therefore, if El Nino changes quickly to La Nina, then El Nino increases a key variable to enhance Atlantic hurricane formation, then immediately after, La Nino increases a key variable to enhance Atlantic hurricane formation.

That is what is likely to happen this hurricane season. We are leaving El Nino conditions over the next several weeks, and we are likely to plunge into a La Nina phase right away. That is why this Atlantic Hurricane Season is expected to be a humdinger of a hurricane season.

Storm Beryl

As I write this, Beryl is a Tropical Storm located about 10 degrees north, lined up with the mouth of the Amazon (far to the South). The numerous models mostly agree on this: Beryl will be classifiable as a hurricane by mid day Sunday, and proceed towards the Windward Islands, likely passing somewhere between Roseau and the South American coast, with the current National Hurricane Center’s track running through St Vincent and the Grenadines, with Kingston the current center of the bullseye. By Thursday or so next week, the storm will be closer to Other Kingston, the one in Jamaica, and Jamaica the island of Hispanola, and Cuba are all under the gun. That would put the hurricane, very likely a Category 3 storm, in the western Caribbean and wondering where to go next. That is very important, since it could do what a lot of hurricanes do, and turn north to overrun Cuba the threaten Florida, or it could penetrate further into the Gulf of Mexico, and then who the heck knows. In the first instance, it would probably weaken somewhat, in the second instance, it would be over very warm water in the Gulf and may well strengthen.

Beryl Update: 6/30/24 PM

Between now and tomorrow at this time, Beryl will achieve major hurricane status with winds of 140 mph, gusting to 165 mph, as it bears down on the southerly Windwaard Islands, that band of tiny nations and protectorates that form the southeastern edge of the Caribbean.

Beryl is a weird and strange looking hurricane. Not to be to judge, but it almost looks more like a typical thunderstorm cluster disturbance that hurricanes resemble before they are fully born. This is a major hurricane born so recently there are fragments of the placenta draped across its shoulders. Presumably Beryl will circle-up and start looking more organized soon. Beryl is not a monster size hurricane at this time but is expected to get larger.

This is very conjectural, but bear with me. Most models of the hurricane’s intensity have it remaining a Category 1 even after it slides across Yucatan and starts to leave that very flat mainland region behind. This is not going to be good for humans and habitats in that region. After about 5 days from now, it is reasonable to expect Beryl to be a Category 1 hurricane, or at least, still be a tropical cyclone as it re-enters the Gulf of Mexico. Most models, and this is way too far out to be more than cautionary information, have Beryl continuing across the southern Gulf of Mexico and re-landing on the MExico coast, but about 1/4th of the models have the storm curving northwards and striking the US gulf coast. Right now I see no estimates for Beryl’s likely strength at that time, but the Gulf is warm and tends to cause strengthening. So, again, this is way too far out to say, but not to far out in time to be concerned if you are along the Gulf coast anywhere from Poza Rica to New Orleans.

For perspective, Hurricane Harvey took a very similar track, crossed the Yucatan, then turned into a big storm before hitting Texas. At this point, Beryl looks bigger and stronger than Harvey.

Beryl is the farthest east forming hurricane in June on record. This time of year we tend to not have the “Cape” hurricanes that come all across the Atlantic. Once Beryl becomes a Category 4 storm (any hour now), it will be the earliest Category 4 hurricane in the Atlantic, and presumably the only such hurricane in June. It is the earliest major hurricane within 100 miles of Barbados and Grenada.

Beryl Update 7/1 9:45 AM

I just want to put this here so we can compare realty with the current estimates in a day or so:

Beryl Update 7/2 6:25AM

As suspected, Beryl will remain stronger than earlier projected:

Also note that this hurricane’s path has shifted to the north a little, placing Jamaica in serious danger.

The people of Carriacou and other islands hit by Beryl over the last day have lost homes in infrastructure, but so far the death toll is minimal. We’ll see if that remains the case, hopefully it will.

Wind shear was expected to cause Beryl t drop to below Major status about now, but the storm is remaining at Category 4 level for the next day or two.

The estimated track of Beryl becomes extremely uncertain after Friday. The spaghetti models have continued to shift the post-Yucatan path northwards, with the Texas-Mexico border being the approximate center of the largest cluster of models, but a goodly number suggesting landfall as far east as New Orleans. The models are ambiguous as to how strong this storm might be by the time that happens.

Beryl Update 7/7 8:17M

One thing you can say about Beryl: as a named storm it feels like it is lasting a very long time. I think the record for longevity in the Atlantic is the 1899 Ciriaco hurricane, which hung out at sea for just over a month, and lasted as a storm from August 2rd to September 12th, with the last 8 days being extratropical. Beryl formed on June 28th, so it’s only been going 9 days, but somehow feels longer.

Beryl, currently tropical storm, a will strengthen back into a real Hurricane over the next 24 hours, then make landfall in Texas, affecting areas upcoast Corpus Christi and Galveston. As the storm moves inland, serious flooding is expectged as far north as the Dallas-Shreveport area. This does not seem to be a Harvy-eque situation.

Elsewhere in the Atlantic: Nothing. Yet.

Helpful Information

In the spirit of keeping things all in one place this hurricane season, here is the Saffir-Simpson scale, and below, the name list for the Atlantic Hurricanes.

Names for 2024:
Alberto
Beryl
Chris
Debby
Ernesto
Francine
Gordon
Helene
Isaac
Joyce
Kirk
Leslie
Milton
Nadine
Oscar
Patty
Rafael
Sara
Tony
Valerie
William