The breakneck pace of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season claimed another record on Friday after three tropical storms formed within a 24-hour period, hitting fast-forward on the National Hurricane Center’s adoption of the Greek alphabet for storm names.
First came Tropical Storm Wilfred in the Atlantic around 11 a.m., then Subtropical Storm Alpha near Portugal at 12:30 p.m. Tropical Storm Beta, in the Gulf of Mexico, broke the record around 5 p.m.
For just the second time, tropical storms and hurricanes will be named after Greek letters, a backup list that the National Hurricane Center first turned to when it exhausted its alphabetical list in 2005.
NOAA’s midseason prediction called for 19 to 25 named storms this season, and Beta is number 23. The record for most storms in one season, 27, is held by 2005.
Elsewhere in the Atlantic, Hurricane Teddy, a powerful Category 4 storm, continued to move toward Bermuda. Also on forecasters’ radar: Post-tropical cyclone Paulette might reform in the faraway Atlantic, and a new tropical wave could move off the west coast of Africa by early Saturday.
One name is left on the hurricane list, and it’s only September. Why so many storms?
Tropical Storm Wilfred forms, Alpha follows
As of the 11 p.m. update, Wilfred was pointed in the general direction of the Bahamas and the East Coast of the U.S., but forecasters predicted it would diminish to a depression as soon as Monday and then dissipate.
It was moving fast at 18 mph and packing 40 mph winds. The hurricane center said Wilfred could strengthen more than predicted in the next few days, but then a large upper-level trough would set in and break it apart with increased wind shear.
Subtropical Storm Alpha formed just after noon, but by the 11 p.m. update had become a remnant low over the District Of Viseu, Portugal. The hurricane center is no longer issuing advisories for Alpha.
Tropical Storm Beta breaks record
Tropical Storm Beta formed Friday afternoon hours after Wilfred and Alpha, marking the first time three named storms formed within a 24-hour period. The previous record was three storms forming within a 30-hour period, in August 1993, when Humberto, Iris and Jerry formed, tweeted Tomer Burg, an atmospheric science Ph.D. student at the University of Oklahoma.
As of 11 p.m. Beta had 60 mph winds and was headed north-northeast at 12 mph. Forecasters say Beta is becoming stronger and watches haven issued for The Texas coast.
“A slow westward motion is expected to begin late Saturday, with a slow northwestward motion forecast to begin late Sunday and continue through late Monday,” forecasters said. “On the forecast track, the center of Beta will slowly approach the Texas coast into early next week.”
Beta is expected to become a Category 1 hurricane by Sunday, but the forecast calls for the storm to weaken back to a tropical storm before scraping along the Texas coast for a few days.
The hurricane center cautioned that it was too soon to tell what impact the storm could have, considering its curvy path.
Forecasters say it’s also too early to tell which areas could see direct wind, storm surge and rainfall from this system, though they are expecting swells to increase and reach the coast of Texas and along the Gulf coast of Mexico over the weekend, possibly causing life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.
A storm surge watch is in effect for Port Mansfield, Texas to High Island, Texas including Baffin Bay, Corpus Christi Bay, Copano Bay, Aransas Bay, San Antonio Bay, Matagorda Bay and Galveston Bay.
A hurricane watch is in effect for Port Aransas, Texas to High Island, Texas. A tropical storm watch is in effect from south of Port Aransas, Texas to the mouth of the Rio Grande and east of High Island, Texas to Morgan City, Louisiana.
How strong will Hurricane Teddy be when it nears Bermuda?
Bermuda issued a tropical storm watch Friday evening as Hurricane Teddy, now a Category 4 storm, continued its path toward the island. As of the 11 p.m. update it had maximum sustained winds near 130 mph with higher gusts and was about 730 miles southeast of Bermuda.
However, Teddy was also expected to weaken to a Category 2 by the time it approaches Bermuda this weekend, according to the hurricane center.
“After 24 hours, the hurricane is forecast to cross cooler waters churned up by Paulette last week. This should cause a slow weakening trend to begin,” forecasters said.
From Bermuda, it could head toward Nova Scotia as a powerful extra-tropical cyclone.
The return of Paulette?
Paulette, which struck Bermuda as a Category 2 hurricane last week before rocketing off to colder waters, might make a comeback. As of the 8 p.m. update, forecasters said the post-tropical cyclone is due to move quickly southward for the next few days and then stall over “marginally” warmer waters.
“The cyclone could redevelop tropical characteristics late this weekend or early next week while it moves little,” forecasters said.
The hurricane center gave Paulette a 30% chance of reforming in the next two days and 40% in the next five.
The hurricane center is also watching another tropical wave that has yet to roll off the coast of Africa. They said it had no chance of developing in the next two days but a 20% shot at strengthening in the next five days.