17 September 2014

Edouard becomes first major hurricane since 2012

On Tuesday morning at 11am EDT, Edouard was upgraded to a Category 3 hurricane (115mph).  A major hurricane is defined to be any Category 3-4-5 hurricane, and the last one was Sandy when it made landfall on eastern Cuba on October 25, 2012.

However, Edouard only held that intensity for 6 hours.  The last two major hurricanes (Sandy 2012 and Michael 2012) also each held that intensity for just 6 hours.  In one day, Hurricane Rina in October of 2011 racked up as much time as a major hurricane as all other storms combined did in the subsequent 1,064 days!

Visible satellite image over Edouard from 8:45am EDT. (NASA)
As of today at 5am EDT, Edouard's intensity is back down to 90mph.  It is centered about 600 miles northeast of Bermuda and heading northeast at 20mph.
It will continue to weaken over decreasing water temperatures and increasing wind shear as it accelerates to the northeast toward the Azores.

Edouard's activity brings the seasonal ACE (Accumulated Cyclone Energy) up to about 52% of average for this date.  So although 4 out of the 5 storms became hurricanes so far, the overall numbers and intensities are falling well short of average.

Only 1 of the 4 hurricanes made landfall anywhere (Arthur), but NONE of them have existed in the tropics!!  All four hurricanes formed north of 24N, a sign that the weak El Nino is suppressing activity in the tropical Atlantic, as expected.  The figure below shows the typical influence of El Nino on hurricane activity in the East Pacific and in the Atlantic... 2014 couldn't fit this any more perfectly!

Typical influence of El NiƱo on Pacific and Atlantic seasonal hurricane activity. (NOAA)
Elsewhere across the basin, there's an easterly wave about to exit the African coast today, and models generally develop it over the next few days, but not very aggressively.

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