Daniel strengthens as the first Atlantic hurricane of the 2022 season


Tropical Storm Daniel reached hurricane strength over the open Atlantic on Friday morning, the National Hurricane Center announced. The storm, which is not expected to threaten any land, is the first hurricane of the otherwise calm Atlantic season so far.

Danielle is the latest hurricane to form in the Atlantic since 2013, said Bill Klotzbach, a tropical meteorologist at Colorado State University.

Another quirk of an otherwise odd Atlantic season: the storm grew unusually strong to the north — near 40 degrees latitude — where hurricanes are rare. But it was the warmest sea water recorded there that fueled the storm.

Hurricane expert Michael Lowry of Miami TV affiliate WPLG tweeted that sea surface temperatures near Daniel topped 80 degrees for the first time. Such warm water is needed for tropical storms and hurricanes to intensify.

Much of the northwest Atlantic is significantly warmer than normal, reflecting the effects of human-caused climate change, which has raised ocean temperatures worldwide.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration programs A moderate to strong ocean heat wave is underway in the area where Daniel grew up. Ocean heat waves are periods when ocean temperatures are abnormally high and are associated with significant effects on marine ecosystems.

Daniel is part of the northern and eastern hurricanes that form in the Atlantic Ocean, due to this heat wave.

At 11 a.m. ET, Daniel was centered about 885 miles west of the Azores and nearly stationary. “The hurricane is forecast to rotate over the open Atlantic over the next two days, then slowly turn northeastward early next week,” the hurricane center wrote.

The center predicts the storm will strengthen to a Category 2 hurricane by Sunday, before weakening to a Category 1 by the middle of next week.

The 2022 hurricane season has surprised forecasters by being unusually quiet, despite early forecasts for a busy season. The Atlantic was without a named storm for nearly two months, from early July to late August. August passed without a storm for the first time since 1997.

Did the forecasts of an extra busy hurricane season turn out to be wrong?

Although warm ocean water favors storm formation, the combination of dry, stable air and hostile winds usually suppresses development.

But since early September, the Atlantic has shown signs of awakening. In addition to Daniel, the hurricane center is tracking a disturbance east of the Lesser Antilles and giving it a 70 percent chance of developing into a tropical depression or storm over the next five days.

The system is watching: Most forecast models say the disturbance will roll out to sea over several days, but a few suggest it could continue west toward the Bahamas and possibly the southeastern United States.

Another disturbance west of Africa is also being monitored, but the center has determined that it has only a 10 percent chance of forming.

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