MOST storms in a decade swirling in the Atlantic Ocean
Thursday, September 13, 2018, 1:12 PM - It may be the peak of hurricane season for the Atlantic basin, but the strongest tropical system on Earth right now is half a world away, in the western Pacific. And Florence and Mangkhut aren't alone as they compete to be the biggest storms on the planet; a staggering nine tropical systems were circling the globe this week, forming a band that stretches from the South China Sea to the central Atlantic. And now, the Atlantic Ocean is up to four current storms, which is extremely rare.
(Related: Why Florence is a life-threatening storm)
Closest to home for many Canadians, the active Atlantic has been capturing attention this week, as the destructive Hurricane Florence roars toward the coast of the southern United States. Not to be forgotten, however, is Tropical Storm Isaac, which has largely slipped by unnoticed further south, but will impact the Lesser Antilles this week, and may emerge into the Caribbean Sea, reinvigorated, early next week. It may well be that we're dealing with Isaac, or a new storm spun up from its remnants, next week along the U.S. Gulf Coast. It's also possible the disturbance in the Gulf of Mexico -- currently marked Invest 95L -- will develop later this week or into the weekend. And now, the latest storm to join the crowded Atlantic basin is subtropical storm Joyce.
This is significant, because there haven't been four named storms simultaneously spinning in the Atlantic Basin since 2008. But could there be five -- an all-time record?
Possibly. If Invest 95L can continue to fend off its unfavourable environment and maintain its classification, it's entirely possible.
MORE ON THE NINE STORMS CIRCLING THE GLOBE THIS WEEK:
EASTERN AND CENTRAL PACIFIC
While Florence draws eyes in the east, the entire Hawaiian Island chain is under flood watches and warnings, as Tropical Storm Olivia whips overhead. Though the storm has undergone some weakening, Olivia will get a departing boost from a low aloft to the north of Hawaii, raising the risk for flash flooding and landslides. "Instability from this low combined with moisture from Olivia will keep the weather unsettled across the state through late Thursday," warns the National Weather Service.
Apart from Olivia, a new invest off the Mexican coast may potentially develop into another tropical system, with 50% chance of development over the next 48 hours.
A warmer-than-normal Pacific is one of the culprits behind an active hurricane season for the eastern and central Pacific in 2018. Like the Atlantic, the eastern Pacific hurricane season generally peaks in September.
Unlike the Atlantic and eastern Pacific basins, tropical storm season never ends in the western Pacific. The first typhoon of 2018 actually formed in the last days of 2017, and the year's first typhoon formed at the end of March. The lion's share of storms do tend to form in the Northern Hemisphere summer months, however, with May to October seeing peak activity across the region. 2018 is on track to be a slightly above-average year for the basin, with 23 named storms thus far, two of which -- Barijat, and the super typhoon Mangkhut -- are headed for the southern coast of China or northern Vietnam later this week into the weekend.
Monster storm Mangkhut surpassed Florence's strength on Tuesday, making it the most intense storm currently on the planet. But Mangkhut didn't stop there -- winds on Wednesday peaked and closed in on 290 km/h, the equivalent of a Category 5 storm. As it surges toward the Philippines, locals are fleeing form the northern communities of Luzon ahead of the storm.
FORECAST OF SUPER TYPHOON MANGKHUT
Mangkhut is forecast to remain a super typhoon as it makes landfall early Saturday local time in the northern Philippines, with peak winds well over 200 km/h. Beyond, the storm will track towards southern China and the island of Hainan, likely weakening, but remaining a strong typhoon upon arrival into early next week.