By Mark Kaufman
The first Atlantic hurricane of the year doesn’t usually form until around Aug. 10. Yet, Hurricane Hanna intensified into a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico Saturday morning, some two weeks ahead of schedule. The storm is expected to make landfall in south Texas later in the day, bringing heavy deluges.
Hurricane Hanna, a Category 1 hurricane, continues 2020’s profoundly busy Atlantic storm season. On Wednesday, Tropical Storm Gonzalo formed in the Atlantic Ocean, the for the seventh named storm of the season to form (a storm earns a name when it becomes organized and reaches wind speeds of at least 39 mph). For reference, the Atlantic’s seventh named storm doesn’t usually occur .
Meanwhile, the eighth named storm of the season usually doesn’t arrive until Sept. 24. So Hanna is quite ahead of schedule.
The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, while producing many exceptionally early storms, has overall produced about an average storm intensity so far, something hurricane researchers call “Accumulated Cyclone Energy.”
These early-forming storms have capitalized on above-normal sea surface temperatures (SSTs) in the ocean: Warmer oceans fuel tropical storms as more water naturally evaporates into the air, .
“Warm SSTs provide more fuel for developing hurricanes,” Philip Klotzbach, a hurricane researcher at Colorado State University, told Mashable.
#Hanna is going to be a big rainmaker for southern Texas. Could see isolated spots exceed 15″ of rainfall over the next 40 hours. Flooding could be a problem. pic.twitter.com/QuEiv06fSU
— MJVentrice (@MJVentrice) July 25, 2020
In a relentlessly warming climate, with the oceans soaking up colossal amounts of human-created heat, hurricane scientists expect . A warmer atmosphere holds more water, resulting in bigger deluges.
What’s more, there might not be more hurricanes overall in the future, but with warmer oceans researchers expect more hurricanes , meaning higher and more destructive wind speeds.
“We think there will be an uptick in the most intense storms,” Brian Tang, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Albany, told Mashable on Wednesday.
Visit the National Hurricane Center website for updates on storm activity.