The first named storm of the 2019 season is now churning in the Atlantic, though it isn’t expected to get very strong and poses no threat to the US East Coast, forecasters said.
Subtropical Storm Andrea earned its name Monday evening, becoming the fifth year in a row that a tropical system has been named before the season officially begins June 1, CNN senior meteorologist Brandon Miller said.
The trend has scientists wondering whether the season should start sooner, he said.
“The main practical reason would be to have people get prepared a couple weeks early,” Miller said. “If one of these storms hits land in April or May, coastal residents might not have had a chance to prepare their homes and selves.”
‘Marginal junk storms’ precede June 1, expert says
Hurricane Alex, an unusual winter hurricane, formed in January 2016 in the northeastern Atlantic Ocean. Meantime, April saw the advent of Tropical Storm Arlene in 2017, while May ushered in Tropical Storm Ana in 2015 and Tropical Storm Alberto in 2018.
The eastern Pacific season, which the US National Hurricane Center also monitors, starts May 15 and, like the Atlantic season runs through November 30.
“Why not start the Atlantic then as well?” Miller asked. “Five years seems to make a pretty strong trend.”
Still, “the Atlantic hurricane season is really peaked” during the eight weeks around September 10 – its most active and dangerous period – said Phil Klotzbach, lead hurricane researcher and forecaster for Colorado State University. And 95% of all major Atlantic hurricanes happen after August 1, he said.
“So, I guess the question is: Are we trying to capture the period where marginal junk storms can form or when we typically actually get hurricanes?” he said. “The eastern North Pacific season ramps up much faster. Hurricanes in late May are relatively common there.”
In the central Pacific, the tropical storm season runs from June 1 to November 30.
Experts predict 2 major hurricanes in 2019
Andrea was about 280 miles west-southwest of Bermuda at 11 a.m. ET Tuesday, with sustained winds of 35 mph, the National Hurricane Center reported. It’s due to move north-northeast over the next two days, bringing some rain and gusty winds to the island territory before dissipating, CNN senior meteorologist Dave Hennen said.
Hurricane researchers predict a slightly below-average 2019 hurricane season, with about 13 named storms and five hurricanes, including two major ones of Category 3 or greater. Hurricane activity will be slowed by Atlantic sea surface temperatures slightly below their long-term average and the relatively high likelihood of a weak El Niño, experts at Colorado State’s Tropical Meteorology Project said.