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TROPICS | Tropical systems circle the globe

MOST storms in a decade swirling in the Atlantic Ocean

Caroline Floyd

Thursday, September 13, 2018, 6:25 - 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 has the potential to impact the Lesser Antilles later 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 off the coast of the Mexican Yucatan Peninsula -- 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 fend off its unfavourable environment and maintain its classification, it's entirely possible. 



While Florence draws eyes in the east, the entire Hawaiian Island chain is under a tropical storm warning in advance of Tropical Storm Olivia, which is expected to sweep through the islands on Wednesday. Winds began picking up across the main islands Tuesday afternoon, and tropical storm conditions are expected across the state beginning Tuesday night. Though the storm has undergone some weakening, it still packs sustained winds of 70 km/h, and is expected to drop in excess of 250 mm of rain, raising concerns for flash flooding and landslides. While it's expected to remain a tropical storm while it moves across the islands, National Hurricane Center forecasters caution it may pack more of a punch than the recent Hurricane Lane for some areas.

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.

TRACKING FLORENCE: Stay with The Weather Network online and on T.V. for our exclusive coverage of the storm. Stormhunters Jaclyn Whittal and Mark Robinson will be LIVE in the Carolinas with the latest.


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 slight 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 thew weekend.

Monster storm Mangkhut surpassed Florence's strength on Tuesday, with peak winds of about 260 km/h, and the storm is forecast to strengthen further -- closing in on sustained winds of 290 km/h -- as it surges toward Hong Kong later this week.


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