Tropical Storm Patty Forms, T.D. 17 in the Making

By , Senior Meteorologist
October 12, 2012; 4:35 AM ET
Share |

Even though the peak of hurricane season has passed, there is sometimes a second pulse of tropical storms and hurricanes during October.

While it may seem the door has shut in the Atlantic Basin for this season, there are still some reasons to keep up the guard.

Tropical Depression 16 was upgraded to Tropical Storm Patty Thursday evening.

There have now been 16 named tropical systems this year in the Atlantic and there has recently been one of the longest-lived tropical systems on record, Nadine. Hurricane Center meteorologists do not expect a big new crop of tropical storms and hurricanes for the remainder of the season, but they are monitoring a couple of areas in the Atlantic during week two of October.

One is an area of disturbed weather east of the Bahamas that has yielded Tropical Storm Patty.

The lifespan of this system may be rather short as it will soon merge with or be shredded by a cold front nearby to the west.

This GOES infrared satellite image was taken Friday morning, Oct. 12, 2012.

According to Expert Senior Meteorologist Dan Kottlowski, "The front and some of tropical moisture from the system will bring Bermuda heavy rain into the weekend. The rest of the tropical moisture may slice southward over part of the Bahamas and Cuba."

While the system remains an entity, it will bring rough seas to the northeastern facing beaches and shoreline of the Bahamas.

Another concern is a broad area of low pressure that has formed from a tropical wave over the Central Atlantic.

"There is a chance that this feature, could soon develop into the next Atlantic tropical depression of the season," Kottlowski said.

Satellite image of the disturbed area in the central Atlantic from NOAA

The system is likely to travel in the neighborhood of the Leeward Islands, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico spanning late this week into early next week.

"Strong westerly winds aloft currently exist where the system is heading, but they may weaken for a time, allowing for some development," Kottlowski said.

Showers and thunderstorms will enhance from east to west from the Leeward Islands to Puerto Rico this weekend into early next week. While there is a risk from flash and urban flooding and potentially gusty squalls, the region is in need of rain.

People from the northeastern Caribbean islands to Bermuda will want to keep an eye on the system and be prepared for potentially adverse weather conditions.

Why a Second Spike in Atlantic Tropical Storms, Hurricanes?

Hurricanes need warm water, weak upper-level winds and moist air to develop.

During October, ocean waters begin to cool and upper-level winds begin to increase. However, water temperatures often remain just warm enough for development. In addition, strong upper-levels winds can still be absent long enough to allow development.

During the peak of hurricane season, September, most tropical systems are born from disturbances moving westward off the coast of Africa. The disturbances are called tropical waves. While the number of waves tends to decline during October, there are still enough remaining to cause trouble occasionally.

Plenty of moist air also remains over the Atlantic well into autumn.

Scientifically, the main function of hurricanes, typhoons, etc., is to transport heat from the tropics to higher latitudes.

"During October, we begin to see more fronts move to and stall over the Gulf of Mexico and just off the Atlantic coast of the United States," Kottlowski said.

The fronts offer a means to spawn thunderstorms, which can then gradually develop into a tropical system.

"We also tend to get more frequent, large areas of high pressure building over the United States," Kottlowski said, "The circulation around these fair weather systems can help to spin up tropical systems to their south and east over the warm Gulf and Atlantic waters."

While westerly winds aloft tend to strengthen and guide many tropical storms and hurricanes away from North America moving forward through the autumn, every once in a while, these winds back around and allow a tropical system to plow inland or parallel the coast.

There have been very costly October hurricanes in terms of lives lost and destruction to property.

1954's Hazel was one of the worst October hurricanes on record. The storm claimed over 1,000 lives (most of them in Haiti) and caused over $400 million (1954 dollars) in damage. Hazel was captured by strong upper-level steering winds and drawn northward at amazing speed along the Atlantic Seaboard of the U.S.

According to Chief Meteorologist Elliot Abrams, "The highest winds ever recorded, 94 mph, at Philadelphia International Airport, occurred as Hazel passed to the west. Hurricane-force winds occurred as far inland as Toronto, Canada, on the shores of Lake Ontario."

AccuWeather will have more on this historic hurricane on Monday, Oct. 15, 2012.

1964's Hilda curved in from the Caribbean, turned northward over the central Gulf of Mexico and slammed into Louisiana with 135-mph winds and tremendous storm surge. More than 35 people died in the storm.

Dangers from the tropics not only come from hurricanes, but also from tremendous moisture from a tropical storm or depression. As these tropical systems move into a cooler environment, they can no longer hold their moisture and release it in the form of tremendous rainfall and the risk of flooding.

1985's Juan dropped nearly a foot of rain on the north-central Gulf Coast. As many as 48 people died as a result of the storm. Damage approached $3 billion.


Comments left here should adhere to the Community Guidelines. Profanity, personal attacks, and spam will not be tolerated.

More Weather News

  • 5 tips to help avoid a shark attack

    June 30, 2016; 1:32 PM ET

    With more people entering the aquatic home of one of nature's oldest predators, shark attacks continue to climb each year. Here are some tips on how to avoid an attack.

Daily U.S. Extremes

past 24 hours

  Extreme Location
High N/A
Low N/A
Precip N/A


This Day In Weather History

Fresno, CA (1982)
The first time it has rained on June 30th since records have been kept (1888). (0.23" of rain).

Baton Rouge, LA (1989)
22.80" of rain for the month of June.

Evansville, IN (1991)
Apparent temperature of 112 degrees.

Rough Weather