Tropical Storm Arthur sets its sights on North Carolina coast by Susan Miller, USA TODAY•The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season is two weeks away, but that hasn’t stopped an early-bird system from menacing the North Carolina coast Sunday.Tropical Storm Arthur, which formed off Florida on Saturday, was expected to strengthen and whip the Outer Banks with rain and gusty winds overnight into Monday, the National Weather Service said. Eastern portions of the state should brace for localized flooding and hazardous marine conditions, forecasters said.A tropical storm warning – meaning 40 mph or greater winds were expected somewhere in the warning area within the next 24 hours – was issued for portions of the Outer Banks from Surf City to Duck, including Pamlico and Albemarle sounds, according to the National Hurricane Center. What’s in a name? From Arthur to Wilfred, here’s the list of hurricane names for the 2020 season“Minor inundation from storm surge is possible for very low-lying areas adjacent to the ocean, sounds, and rivers, with overwash of dunes and flooding of properties and roadways possible for locations where dune structures are weak,” mainly north of Cape Lookout, the National Weather Service said.Arthur was centered about 260 miles south-southwest of Cape Hatteras and was moving at 9 mph to the north-northeast Sunday evening with maximum sustained winds of 45 mph, the hurricane center said. Storm forms off Florida coast: Tropical Storm Arthur forms off Florida, becoming the first named storm of the season„There is a still the possibility that Arthur makes landfall where the barrier islands jut out near Cape Hatteras,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Renee Duff said.Arthur’s preseason appearance isn’t that unusual, making 2020 the sixth consecutive year with a named storm in May, which is before the season’s official start date of June 1.
Most of the May storms have been weak and uneventful. Tropical Storm Alberto in 2018 was a deadly exception, hitting 65 mph winds and killing 18 people in Cuba and the U.S.Arthur was expected to intensify as it moved northeastward away from the East Coast early this week. The National Hurricane Center said the storm would transition into a non-tropical low pressure system but not before stirring up dangerous coastal surf conditions and rip currents from Florida through the Mid-Atlantic.Should hurricane season start earlier? Arthur would be yet another early tropical storm: Does hurricane season officially start too late?Some bands of rain and gusty winds could reach as far north as the Virginia Tidewater and the Delmarva Peninsula on Monday, the Weather Channel said.Forecasters are predicting an active hurricane season this year. Meteorologist Phil Klotzbach and other experts from Colorado State University – among the nation’s top seasonal hurricane forecasters – predict 16 named tropical storms will form, eight of which will become hurricanes.An average season has 12 tropical storms, six of which are hurricanes. In 2019, there were 18 named storms, six of which were hurricanes. Contributing: Doyle Rice; The Associated Press This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Tropical storm hurricane forecast: Arthur targets North Carolina
It is the sixth year in a row that a storm significant enough to be named has developed before the official start of hurricane season on 1 June.
The US National Hurricane Centre in Miami issued a tropical storm warning for North Carolina, where it is expected to drop one to three inches of rain on Sunday night and Monday morning. The warning applies to coastal areas from Surf City to Duck, including Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds.
Beachgoers are being warned to stay out of the water as the storm will cause life-threatening surf and rip currents. Some trees could be brought down and there could be power cuts.
Tropical Storm Arthur is expected to stay offshore from Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. It is expected to strengthen as it moves northeastwards but should change into a non-tropical low pressure system by Tuesday.
The centre of the storm on Sunday morning was 380 miles south-southwest of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. It had sustained winds of 40mph and was moving north-northeast at 9mph.
Colorado State University hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach told the Associated Press that while there may be a component of warming waters and climate change in other pre-June storms, Arthur is more of a subtropical storm system than a traditional named storm and its water is cooler than what’s usually needed for storm formation.
Jonathan Kegges, a meteorologist at News 6 Team in Orlando, Florida, said an early storm did not necessarily signify a busy hurricane season ahead.
He said: „There have been 15 seasons prior to this one where a storm has formed before June 1. Nine of those seasons did produce an above average season, but four of them were below. The other two were average.”The busiest hurricane season on record, 2005, saw the first storm develop June 8. 2004 was another awful hurricane season especially remembered by Floridians. The first named storm that season didn’t happen until July 31.”The Associated Press contributed to this report
Tropical weather system developing near Florida
The official start of hurricane season is still two weeks away, but the first named storm will likely form this weekend. Withbroadly this summer and fall, is this a signal those predictions are already materializing?
The National Hurricane Center is monitoring an area of low pressure getting gradually better developed near South Florida and the Bahamas. They give the system an 80% chance of development through the weekend. If or when it develops sustained winds equal to or above 39 mph, the storm will be named Arthur.
For the 6th straight season in a row we may have an early season (before June 1st) tropical system form. This is the latest visible imagery of the hybrid system. It has an 80% chance of development this weekend as it moves NE. pic.twitter.com/6GBBUn0fZN
— Jeff Berardelli (@WeatherProf) May 15, 2020
If Arthur indeed forms in the coming days, this would be the sixth straight season with early tropical development occurring before the official start of Atlantic hurricane season on June 1. The Atlantic basin has had named systems before June 1 every year since 2015.
The last 5 Atlantic hurricane seasons have produced an early season storm before June 1st. Will it occur again this year? pic.twitter.com/mnN8Rgj4QR
— Hurricane Tracker App (@hurrtrackerapp) May 8, 2020
Regardless, the system will produce heavy rain and wind gusts to tropical storm force — 39 mph or higher — in South Florida Friday and Friday night. Then the system will pull northeastward into the Bahamas on Saturday.
Early next week the storm is forecast to move up the Eastern Seaboard, just offshore, into cooler waters with gradually weakening likely. While odds are it should remain offshore, it does bear watching as another storm in the eastern U.S. may try to pull it closer. Either way, breezy winds, rough surf and perhaps even some minor coastal flooding is in the cards for the Eastern Seaboard.
It’s worth noting that the system may either be a tropical system, which is a purely tropical low, with what is called a „warm core,” meaning warm air makes up the whole system. Or it may be named a hybrid — subtropical system — which contains both warm and cold attributes. Hybrid systems usually take longer to development and typically do not get quite as strong.
This time of year subtropical systems are more common because they form with the help of cool pools of upper-level air left over from the winter and spring season. This helps destabilize the atmosphere, making it easier for systems to form when water temperatures are still not quite hot enough.
Typically, water temperatures above 80 degrees Fahrenheit are required for tropical formation. Right now, the general area where the system is forecast to form in the Bahamas is near or even slightly below that 80-degree threshold.
The early formation of tropical systems in recent years raises the question: Is climate change contributing?
Dr. Phil Klotzbach from Colorado State University, one of the nation’s leading hurricane forecasters, said warming water may factor in, but it’s more nuanced than that. „While several of the storms that have formed in the pre-season in recent years have formed over anomalously warm water, perhaps due to climate change, this system near south Florida is actually an exception,” he said.
Referring to the graphic below, Klotzbach said, „Here’s a plot showing current sea surface anomalies and the approximate forecast track of this disturbance. The waters near where the storm is currently located and where it is forecast to track are near their long-term average values.”
Water temperatures in the tropical Atlantic, and around the world, have increased over the past few decades, mostly due to human-caused climate change. That provides higher-octane fuel for tropical storm systems.
„There is very high confidence that the season length is linked to ocean temperatures,” said NOAA tropical cyclone expert Dr. Jim Kossin. „The earliest starts have become earlier and the latest ends have become later, but there’s a lot of uncertainty in the signal.”
Some of that uncertainty is linked to our increased ability to evaluate storms. Klotzbach said the increase in marginal early or late season systems is partly due to better observational ability. „These are the exact kind of storms that became much more commonplace with the development of microwave sensors that allow for better detection of weak warm cores,” he noted.
Kieran Bhatia, a hurricane and climate researcher and former postdoctoral fellow at Princeton University, cited the same general research and agrees with Klotzbach: „All this is evidence that it is very hard to produce meaningful trends that conclude earlier season storms are more likely due to climate change.” With that said, Bhatia said there is building consensus that a warming climate will lead to more intense storms in the future, as well as higher storm surge due to sea level rise and higher rainfall totals due to warmer air temperatures. „There is a growing body of evidence suggesting climate change is already increasing the magnitude of these hazards,” Bhatia said. With the increase in early-season storms, a debate has emerged in the meteorology community about whether to move the official start of the Atlantic hurricane season to an earlier date, perhaps in line with the East Pacific season which starts on May 15th. CBS News reached out to the National Hurricane Center to find out if there are any plans to do this. Dennis Feltgen, a communications and public affairs officer meteorologist for NHC, said, „There are no immediate plans to change anything, only to open a discussion of the pros and cons.” An argument against starting the season earlier is the fact that early-season systems are typically not very strong or impactful. Klotzbach said, „In the satellite era (since 1966), we’ve only had tw hurricanes form prior to June 1st and no hurricane on record (since 1851) has made continental U.S. landfall prior to June 1st.” As for whether or not an early start spells trouble for the season ahead, Klotzbach said not so much. „Historically, early season storm activity tells you very little about how active the upcoming season is likely to be,” he said. But there are many other reasons to believe that this hurricane season will likely be a busy one. As CBS News first in late April, all of the major seasonal forecasts are calling for a well-above-normal season with 14 to 20 named storms possible. The main reasons for these alarming forecasts are above-normal temperatures in the tropical development region of the Atlantic Ocean and cooling waters in the tropical Pacific, indicative of a possible La Niña forming by fall. La Niñas typically correspond with active Atlantic hurricane seasons. Klotzbach’s April forecast called for 16 named storms this season, above the average number of 12. At the time, Klotzbach felt there was some chance of La Niña developing, but since then he’s come to believe it more strongly. „I would say that I’m certainly more in favor of weak La Niña conditions now for the peak of the season than I would have been one month ago.” Klotzbach’s next seasonal forecast is due out in early June, and we will see if the increased risk of La Niña prompts him to increase his forecast numbers. Regardless, for those in potential hurricane zones, with the start of the season just two weeks away and the complications posed by the pandemic, it would be a good idea to get an early start on preparing.
After forging a path of destruction across the Philippines late last week, Tropical Rainstorm Vongfong will target southern Japan through the early week.
Vongfong, known as Ambo in the Philippines, quickly strengthened into a typhoon late last week before lashing the Philippines with heavy rain and damaging winds.
At least four deaths have been blamed on the storm, according to a report from ABS-CBN from Saturday.
After tracking over the Luzon province and moving over cool water to the north of the Philippines and east of Taiwan, Vongfong transitioned into a tropical rainstorm on Sunday.
Vongfong is forecast to follow a northeasterly track and move away from Taiwan early in the week. The storm is expected to track across the Ryukyu Islands of Japan on Monday.
By Monday night, Tropical Rainstorm Vongfong will arrive along the southern coast of mainland Japan. The rainstorm is expected to remain just offshore as it follows an easterly path into Tuesday.
Vongfong will spread heavy rain and gusty winds from Kyushu to Kanto in southern Japan.
The speed of the storm will help to limit rainfall across this area, but totals can still reach 50-100 mm (2-4 inches). This amount of rain can lead to flash flooding in low-lying and poor drainage areas.
Locally higher amounts in the rugged terrain can increase the risk for mudslides.
Winds will remain gusty with this storm; however, the strongest winds are expected to remain offshore and will have little impact on southern Japan.
Vongfong strengthened over the warm waters of the Philippines Sea and became the first-named tropical system in the Northern Pacific Ocean of 2020.
On Thursday afternoon, Vongfong was a typhoon with wind speeds around 155 km/h (96 mph), making it equivalent to a Category 3 hurricane in the Atlantic and East Pacific basins.
According to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), Ambo made its first landfall over San Policarpo, in the province of Eastern Samar, at 12:15 p.m. Thursday, local time.
After barreling through Eastern Samar, the typhoon made five additional landfall across islands in the northern Philippines.
Keep checking back on AccuWeather.com and stay tuned to the AccuWeather Network on DirecTV, Frontier and Verizon Fios.
Running abecause of bad weather, a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket finally thundered to life and vaulted away from Cape Canaveral early Sunday, carrying an unpiloted Air Force X-37B spaceplane aloft to kick off a secrecy-shrouded flight.
The workhorse rocket’s Russian-built RD-180 first stage engine roared to life at 9:14 a.m. EDT, pushing the 20-story rocket smoothly away from launch complex 41 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
Generating more than 860,000 pounds of thrust, the Atlas 5 quickly accelerated as it consumed propellant and lost weight, disappearing from view in a cloudy sky along a northeasterly trajectory.
The first stage appeared to perform flawlessly as it propelled the vehicle out of the thick lower atmosphere, shutting down and falling away as expected about four-and-a-half minutes after liftoff. It was the 90th flight of an RD-180 engine.
At that point, in keeping with standard practice for classified military missions, United Launch Alliance ascent commentary ended and the rest of the climb to space was carried out in secrecy.
The goal of the Atlas 5 flight was to place the X-37B into orbit, one of two operated by the Pentagon’s Rapid Capabilities Office for the newly established U.S. Space Force.
The Boeing-built X-37B looks like a miniature space shuttle, complete with delta wings, heat shield tiles and a compact payload bay. But unlike NASA’s space shuttle, which relied on fuel cells for power in orbit, the X-37B sports a solar array that extends from its payload bay, allowing extremely long flights.
The autonomous orbiters are designed to return to Earth with runway landings at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California or the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Theof an X-37B lasted some 780 days before ending with an unannounced landing at the Florida spaceport last October.
Through the program’s five previous flights dating back to the first launch in April 2010, the X-37Bs logged a cumulative 7.9 years in space covering more than a billion miles. The planned duration of the current mission is not known.
While the Air Force does not provide details of mission objectives, officials lifted the veil slightly before Sunday’s launch, saying two experiments from NASA were on board, one to expose a variety of materials to the space environment and one to monitor its effects on seeds.
Students at the U.S. Air Force Academy supplied a small research satellite carrying multiple experiments while another project will test technology needed to convert solar power into microwave energy that could be beamed down to Earth.
The Atlas launch delay to Sunday forced SpaceX to slip the planned launch of a Falcon 9 rocket, carrying another batch of the company’s Starlink internet relay satellites, from Sunday to Monday. Rough weather associated withoff Florida’s east coast then prompted SpaceX to order an additional 24-hour delay, pushing the Starlink launch to Tuesday at 3:10 a.m.
Had the original schedule held up, the 45th Space Wing, which provides tracking, telemetry and safety support for all rockets launched from Cape Canaveral, would have carried out the fastest turnaround for two orbit-class boosters since 1967, a dramatic weekend doubleheader.
But it was not to be.
Heavy cloud cover and high winds Saturday forced United Launch Alliance to order a 24-hour delay for the planned flight of an Atlas 5 rocket carrying an Air Force X-37B spaceplane. The delay, in turn, was expected to force SpaceX to retarget launch of a Falcon 9 rocket carrying a batch of 60 Starlink internet relay satellites from Sunday to Monday.
Assuming both missions stay on track, the back-to-back launches will reflect the fastest turnaround for Air Force personnel supporting two orbit-class rockets since 1967.
The Atlas 5 was first up, targeting a 10-minute launch window that opened at 8:24 a.m. ET. But heavy cloud cover and high winds forced mission managers to delay the flight in hopes conditions would improve enough to permit liftoff during a second 10-minute window opening at 10:13 a.m.
But the weather did not cooperate, the countdown was halted at the T-minus one-minute, 40-second mark and the launch team recycled for another attempt Sunday morning, at 9:14 a.m., when forecasters predict a much better chance of acceptable weather.
SpaceX had been planning to launch the company’s eighth batch of 60 Starlink satellites early Sunday, at 3:53 a.m., but the Atlas delay was expected to trigger a similar slip to Monday.