September 10 marks the statistical peak of the Atlantic hurricane season. Based on data gathered since 1851, it’s been more likely for a hurricane [or tropical storm] to be active on this date than on any other in the entire season — from June 1 to November 30. Climate scientists, meanwhile, take a longer view: how will hurricane numbers andMore
We just passed the peak of Atlantic hurricane season, but that doesn’t mean the tropics have gone to sleep. Quite the opposite.
Two named storms are churning in the basin with a tropical depression developing just west of Cape Verde. One of those storms, Tropical Storm Julia, formed on Tuesday.
That the storm developed at all isn’t that notable, but where it formed is. After meandering across the Atlantic as a tropical depression, Julia got its act together over Florida. That makes it the first tropical storm on record to form over the state. Hurricanes and tropical storms forming or strengthening over land aren’t that rare. Researchers even have a name for it: the brown ocean effect, which occurs when the ground is already saturated and atmospheric temperatures are similar to the tropics.
Where Julia formed hasn’t seen much rain so this isn’t a textbook example of the brown ocean effect, but the atmosphere was certainly primed for storm formation. University of Miami hurricane expert Brian McNoldy noted on Twitter that it might be the first tropical storm to spend zero time over open water.
— Brian McNoldy (@BMcNoldy) September 14, 2016
Since it’s formation, Julia has taken a leisurely path north along Florida and Georgia’s Atlantic coast. As of Wednesday morning, Julia was packing winds of 40 mph, which just barely gets it into the tropical storm category. It’s expected to be downgraded to a tropical depression sometime on late Wednesday or early Thursday while tracking along the coast from Georgia to South Carolina.
Winds were never going to be a big concern with the storm, though. Instead it’s drenching rain and the threat of flooding. Up to 8 inches of rain are possible over the next three days in the region with the South Carolina coast bearing the brunt of it.
In addition to tropical storm warnings, flash flood watches are also in place from Hinesville, Ga. to just north of Charleston, S.C. If the heaviest rains fall during high tide, flooding will be especially likely directly along the coast and low-lying areas.
The other two tropical threats aren’t really that threatening to land at this point. Tropical Storm Ian is in the middle of the Atlantic and is expected to curve northward and pose no threat to land.
Tropical Depression 12, which formed on Wednesday morning, is still on the other side of the Atlantic. While it’s forecast to reach tropical storm status early next week or this weekend, it’s still way too early to anticipate whether its track will come anywhere near land.