Tropical Storm Earl to strengthen as Atlantic basin heats up
Hot on the heels of Hurricane Danielle, Earl has formed near the Caribbean Sea, and may become the next hurricane in the Atlantic.
The peak of hurricane season runs from late August to mid-September so it's no surprise that some of the most destructive hurricanes in the history of the United States have occurred in August.
After an extremely quiet August in the Atlantic Ocean, there are now two named tropical systems churning in the basin. On Friday night, Tropical Storm Earl spun to life east of the northern Leeward Islands. While the center of Earl may avoid crossing over land, outer portions of the system may impact several islands in the Caribbean and bring stormy conditions through early this week.
As of 5 a.m. AST Sunday, Tropical Storm Earl was located roughly 90 miles (145 km) northeast of the U.S. Virgin Islands. The storm was moving to the west-northwest at a speed of 8 mph (13 km/h) and had maximum sustained wind speeds of 50 mph (85 km/h). Tropical-storm-force winds extended 105 miles (165 km) from Earl, mainly to the north and east of its center.
AccuWeather Enhanced RealVue™ satellite imagery captures Tropical Storm Earl as it churns just north of the Caribbean on Sunday, Sept. 4, 2022. (AccuWeather)
Earl joins Danielle, a hurricane located well away from any landmasses in the north-central Atlantic.
The development of Danielle and Earl occurred following a highly unusual August, in which zero named tropical systems formed. While not unprecedented, this was the first such occurrence in 25 years. In any case, this season has been substantially different than the hyperactive 2020 and 2021 seasons.
AccuWeather forecasters say Earl will remain a tropical storm through the weekend and into early this week, gaining a bit of strength over that time. Earl is expected to then gain hurricane strength as it speeds away, passing southeast of Bermuda and into the open Atlantic Ocean.
Like with many tropical systems, impacts can extend well away from a storm's center. This may be the case over the weekend in the Caribbean.
"Though the center of Earl will remain northeast of the Caribbean Islands, rain and wind will move westward from the northern Leeward Islands through Puerto Rico into Sunday night," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alan Reppert said.
As is often the case along the edge of such tropical systems, heavy rain will be the primary threat. While this rain may come with brief breaks, torrential downpours can lead to excess runoff and localized flooding. Given the threat for localized flooding, Earl is a less than one on the AccuWeather RealImpact™ Scale for Hurricanes in the Caribbean.
Additionally, gusty winds may prove disruptive in portions of the islands, especially on north-facing shorelines. In these areas, wind gusts of 40-60 mph (100-130 km/h) are possible, with an AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 70 mph (115 km/h). Winds of this magnitude may cause some damage to trees and power lines.
By Monday and Tuesday, Earl is expected to make a sharp turn toward the north and northeast, away from the Caribbean. As it tracks into the open Atlantic, minimal impacts are expected to be felt in Bermuda from Earl.
"Earl is expected to curve sharply and quickly, allowing the storm to pass well south and east of [Bermuda]. Direct impacts are unlikely, however Earl may generate rough surf and rip currents which can impact the island through this week," Reppert explained.
Regardless of Earl's eventual impacts, additional tropical waves are forecast to push off the coast of Africa during the first full week of September and could make a run at becoming organized features. The next named storm in the Atlantic will be called Fiona.
With the calendar now reading September, the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season is even closer. On average, the peak of hurricane season is Sept. 10. With warm ocean waters across much of the Atlantic, as well as in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico, AccuWeather meteorologists will continue monitoring the waters of the basin for signs of potential new development.
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