Aug 22, 2023 - Energy & Environment

Atlantic Ocean sees record burst of tropical storms

Map showing tropical storm, depression and tropical waves on Aug. 22. Image: National Hurricane Center.

The cork holding back the Atlantic Ocean's tropical storm activity popped off this week, with a record set for the most tropical storms to form so quickly.

Why it matters: The Atlantic hurricane season is forecast to be unusually active this year, due to record warm ocean temperatures.

  • This week demonstrated that when conditions are right, multiple storms may form simultaneously.

By the numbers: In just 39 hours, four named storms formed in the Atlantic: Tropical storms Harold, Franklin, Emily and Gert, according to Colorado State University hurricane expert Philip Klotzbach.

Image of a Tweet from a hurricane expert.
Philip Klotzback/Twitter

Threat level: Of these weather systems, Tropical Storm Harold made landfall in southern Texas around 10am CT Tuesday, and mainly presents a heavy rain threat as it moves inland.

  • Tropical Storm Gert is forecast to strike the Dominican Republic on Wednesday, before moving north and intensifying into a hurricane, per the National Hurricane Center.
  • Gert is not expected to threaten the U.S. mainland, though it could bring some gusty winds and heavy rains to Puerto Rico.
  • Franklin has already weakened considerably to a tropical depression, with peak winds of just 35 mph.

The big picture: With temperatures throughout the tropical Atlantic breaking all-time records, atmospheric conditions are favorable for storm formation and intensification. This hurricane season could bring rapid increases in storm numbers and intensity.

  • However, the presence of dry, dusty air coming off the Sahara Desert and strong upper-level winds had kept a lid on the hurricane season as it nears its climatological peak.

Go deeper: NOAA ramps up major Atlantic hurricane predictions for rest of season

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