Sally, René, Paulette and the others… five major tropical depressions, including three hurricanes, were identified on September 14 in the North Atlantic, and this concomitance is in itself historical data.
“This is the record for the largest number of tropical cyclones in this area over the same period”, noted, the same day, the National Hurricane Center in the United States (National hurricane center, NHC). You have to go back to 1971 to see such a large number of extreme events in this same region on the same date.
René dissipated, Teddy kept an eye
On Wednesday September 16, tropical storm René had balanced its last squalls and finished dissipating, after crossing the ocean. Vicky, also a storm, was following the northwest route, blowing 85 km / h winds, and weather services expected it to gradually decrease.
After leaching Bermuda, Hurricane Paulette was heading further north, without appearing to bite the American coast. NHC services predicted it would quickly turn into “Powerful extratropical cyclone”, without fear of damage to the land.
Teddy, on the other hand, was kept in the eye: tropical storm on Tuesday again, it had, on Wednesday, changed into a category 1 hurricane on a scale of 5. After licking Barbados, it was heading dangerously towards Bermuda, who feared to be violently touched for the second time of the week.
But it’s obviously on Sally that all eyes have been for two days. On Wednesday morning, it hit the southeast coast of the United States, where it was feared it could cause heavy flooding. Initially classified as Category 1, the hurricane was promoted to Category 2 just as it hit land. “Historic and potentially fatal flooding is likely along the northern Gulf of Mexico coast,” the NHC warned.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the images of flooded streets in Alabama and Florida arrived in France, where nearly 75,000 homes had been without electricity since Tuesday evening. Louisiana and Mississippi are also hard hit. The meteorological services and the authorities continued to call on the population to prepare for the worst. “Make preparations. Secure your belongings. Watch the weather reports, have a hurricane kit ready and provisions for three or four days ”, Andrew Gilich, the mayor of the coastal town of Biloxi, Mississippi, advised them. Even President Donald Trump, generally unwilling to recognize the impact of natural disasters, urged residents to be extremely careful about this climatic episode “Extremely dangerous”, while ensuring this ” under control “.
One of the effects of atmospheric warming
Exceptional due to the accumulation of events, and brutal in its occurrence, this meteorological episode is not, however, completely unexpected. The multiplication of more intense hurricanes, caused by the warming of the oceans, is among the effects of atmospheric warming repeatedly modeled by climatologists and analyzed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. By mid-summer, moreover, international meteorological services had predicted a particularly active hurricane season and expected to see between 7 and 11 surge on the US coasts.
The prognosis is outdated, to the point even that the UN could soon find itself struggling to find a name for them. 21 surnames long, the list drawn up each year by the World Meteorological Organization to name hurricanes is about to be exhausted. The tropical storm season is not over yet as all but one – Wilfred – have been used up. After the next hurricane, the protocol will involve drawing in Greek.
Alpha, beta, gamma could become the ultimate cyclonic names of 2020. This would be another historic second. Once, already, the Greek alphabet had been called to the rescue to baptize six hurricanes “supernumerary”. It was in 2005, a year marked by the memorable Rita, Wilma and of course Katrina.