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August 20 – Multiple systems in the tropics

It is one storm after another in the Atlantic Basin in the 2020 hurricane season. We’re not even through August, and there have already been fourteen tropical systems. In the past 24 hours, Tropical Depressions 13 and 14 have formed. The next named storm will be Laura – the twelfth storm of the season. An average hurricane season has 12 named storms all season. This year, there will likely be 13 named storms by this weekend. Laura and Marco, if named from the two current depressions, will be the earliest L and M storms on record.

While it’s been hyperactive in terms of the number of storms, the intensity of this hurricane season has not been overwhelming. The Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) is not near the top of the charts to date, even though there have been more named storms than any other year on record. ACE is a measure of storm duration/intensity, so a long-lasting strong hurricane accumulates a lot of ACE. To date, we have not seen any of those. It seems that TD 13 and TD 14 will be tropical storms for a few days, and the official forecast from the hurricane center turns 13 into a hurricane as it gets closer to Florida early next week. The long-range intensity forecast for both these storms is very uncertain.

TD 13 (right) and TD 14 (left)

TD 13 will interact to some degree with the Greater Antilles in the Caribbean as it moves west over the next few days. That interaction combined with occasionally moderate vertical wind shear could limit its potential to intensify over very warm water. If it holds together and moves through the Florida Strait into the Gulf of Mexico, it could blow up into an intense hurricane. The water is very warm in the Gulf right now.

TD 14 will move north towards the Yucatan Peninsula in the next few days. It will likely gradually strengthen, and it’s not out of the question that it becomes a hurricane before reaching Mexico. That storm will likely also get into the Gulf of Mexico early next week. It, too, could strengthen over warm water, but wind shear may be a limiting factor in the western Gulf.

The current NHC forecast has a good chance of two tropical systems in the Gulf of Mexico early next week. It would be quite rare if they were both hurricanes. Odds favor at least one tropical storm.

As for US landfall possibilities, it’s a little early to speculate too much. TD 14 looks like more of a New Orleans to Texas coast threat. TD13 could clip south Florida and then it may turn north to anywhere between the Florida Panhandle and New Orleans. It’s still not out of the realm of possibility that TD 13 stays east of Florida, but that’s not the most likely scenario.

Closer to home, the weather looks pretty quiet and mainly dry in New England for a spell. Expect a gradual warm-up with increasing humidity through the weekend. Afternoon storms are possible Sunday/Monday as a front approaches. Highs will be well into the 80s by the end of the weekend. The temperature may dip a bit in the early to middle of the week before potentially spiking into the 90s if the heat that has been blazing the Western US spreads east.

Below normal rain is likely in the next two weeks. Of course, that can change quickly if the remnants of a tropical system pass by.
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Fred Campagna

President and Chief Meteorologist - Right Weather LLC AMS Certified Consulting Meteorologist #756 AMS Certified Broadcast Meteorologist #126

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