An intense hurricane is gaining strength over the Atlantic Ocean, but the storm is going largely unnoticed due to its remote location.
Hurricane Lorenzo, currently spinning over the central Atlantic, first became a hurricane on Wednesday, but by Thursday afternoon, it had rapidly intensified into a major Category 4 hurricane.
On Thursday evening, Lorenzo was packing maximum sustained winds of 140 mph, but AccuWeather Meteorologists believe that it could continue to strengthen and eventually become a Category 5 storm with winds exceeding 157 mph.
Although major hurricanes like Lorenzo are not rare in the Atlantic Basin, where it is located relative to its mighty force is very unusual.
|Hurricane Lorenzo as seen by NOAA’s GOES-East weather satellite on Thursday evening. (Image/NOAA)|
Lorenzo was officially declared a major hurricane at 6 a.m. EDT Thursday with maximum sustained winds of 125 mph. At the time, it was located at 39.3 degrees west longitude. According to Colorado State University Meteorologist Philip Klotzbach, only one hurricane on record was farther east in the Atlantic Ocean when it reached this strength, and that was Julia back in 2010.
If Lorenzo achieves Category 5 status, it would be the farthest east that a Category 5 hurricane has ever been observed in the Atlantic Ocean.
Despite being an incredibly strong storm, Lorenzo is churning over the open waters of the Atlantic and is not impacting any land apart from some rough surf along the Windward Islands. It is also disrupting to shipping lanes across the region.
However, this may change next week as it tracks to the north.
„Lorenzo may eventually be a threat to the Azores later next week,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski said. „The Azores are a group of islands in the east-central Atlantic Ocean.”
After passing the Azores, Lorenzo will then track toward Europe and could impact areas like the British Isles.
Lorenzo is the latest of a conga line of tropical cyclones to develop in the Atlantic and Eastern Pacific Oceans.
According to Philip Klotzbach, the Western Hemisphere, which encompasses the Atlantic and eastern Pacific basins, has generated 16 named storms since Aug. 21.”This is the most on record for the Western Hemisphere between Aug. 21 – Sept. 23, breaking the old record of 15 named storms set in 1984 and 2002,” he wrote on Twitter.
Southern drought deepens; 11 million affected JAY REEVES•Deep South-Drought Sprinklers spray water on plants at Green Valley Farms, a commercial nursery in Montevallo, Ala., on Thursday, Sept. 26, 2019. Weeks of dry, hot weather across the Deep South have worsened a drought that a federal assessment says is affecting more than 11 million people across five states. (AP Photo/Jay Reeves)BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Weeks of dry, hot weather have plunged the Deep South further into a drought that’s affecting more than 11 million people and threatening crops across the region, a new assessment showed Thursday.The latest report from U.S. Drought Monitor showed arid conditions worsening across a five-state area from Louisiana to South Carolina .Conditions are particularly bad in Alabama and Georgia, where nearly the entire state is too dry. Areas around the suburbs of Birmingham and Atlanta are particularly hard hit. The National Weather Service on Thursday reported record temperatures for several Alabama cities: Montgomery at 100 F (38 C); Troy at 98 (37 C), Tuscaloosa at 97 (36 C) and Birmingham and Anniston each at 96 (35.5 C).Drought conditions extend into northern Florida and the southern Great Lakes region. Much of Texas and the Southwest also are too dry.Some areas have gone weeks without substantial rain. Farmers say the dry weather is hurting their crops, and Alabama has declared a statewide fire alert because of extremely dry weather.About 30 miles (48 kilometers) south of Birmingham in Montevallo, sprinklers ran full tilt at a roughly 200-acre (81-hectare) commercial nursery, Green Valley Farms, that is near the most parched area in the South.A few miles away, April Hebert watched her 1-year-old son Collins toss rocks into a partially dried-up pond at a park in Helena. Brown leaves that are normally still green this time of year covered the ground under trees.”It’s terrible,” she said of the drought. „I’m afraid we’re going to go straight from summer to winter without a fall.”The Agriculture Department said pastures, hayfields and soybean crops are drying up because of the drought, and some farmers have been feeding hay to livestock because of a lack of grass. Most crops are still in good or fair condition despite the lack of rain, the agency said.While lake levels are falling, no mandatory water restrictions are in place.The National Weather Service said most places in Georgia and Alabama received below-normal rainfall in August, and temperatures for the month were as much as 3 degrees above average in Georgia.
Tropical storm Karen forecast to weaken while Lorenzo reaches Category 4 Hurricane status Kristin Lam, USA TODAY•Scroll back up to restore default view.Forecasters predicted the previously uncertain Tropical Storm Karen will dissipate over the weekend, while Lorenzo on Thursday strengthened into a Category 4 Hurricane. Lorenzo may threaten the Azores in the east-central Atlantic Ocean next week, AccuWeather warned, and marks the region’s third major hurricane of the record-breaking season. No storm watches or warnings were in effect Thursday for either storm, according to the National Hurricane Center. Karen’s maximum sustained winds hit 45 mph Thursday morning, and is expected to make a slow clockwise loop far from the U.S. coast. The storm is projected to become a remnant low by Sunday after weakening by the weekend. Meanwhile, Lorenzo could strengthen into a Category 5 hurricane, because little wind shear or dry air lies in its path, said AccuWeather meteorologist Dan Kottlowski. The storm reached wind speeds of 130 mph, with higher gusts Thursday morning as it moved about 1,055 miles west of the southernmost Cabo Verde Islands. Winds will likely send Lorenzo northwest into Sunday, then north to northeast into early next week, AccuWeather said. In addition to the Azores, forecasters warned officials in the Lesser Antilles and the Bahamas to monitor Lorenzo as it develops. It is not expected to affect the Caribbean or the U.S.Since last month, 16 named storms have formed in the Western Hemisphere, said Philip Klotzbach, a tropical scientist at Colorado State University. Tropical Storm Karen approaches in Naguabo, Puerto Rico, on September 24, 2019.”This is the most on record for the Western Hemisphere between Aug. 21 – Sept. 23, breaking the old record of 15 named storms set in 1984 and 2002,” he tweeted. Last week, the six named storms whirling in the Atlantic and Pacific hit a record first set in 1992, forecasters reported.September is the peak month for hurricane and tropical storm activity in both the Atlantic and Pacific, according to NOAA. Contributing: Doyle Rice, USA TODAYThis article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Tropical storm Karen forecast to weaken while Lorenzo strengthens
The ocean current system in the Atlantic Ocean, called the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), is responsible for western Europe’s warm temperatures. But according to a new report from the United Nations, rising water temperatures and changes to the salinity of the world’s oceans is causing the AMOC to weaken. Other recent research has found that the AMOC could slow significantly if enough fresh water from melting ice enters the ocean. Weaker current circulation could bring more extreme weather to the Northern Hemisphere. A version of this scenario is depicted in the movie „The Day After Tomorrow,” though the film isn’t scientifically accurate. Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories. Unprecedented melting of the Arctic and Antarctic ice sheets, combined with warming ocean water, could cause sea levels to rise by more than 3 feet by the end of the century, according to new report.
The assessment was compiled by more than 100 authors from 36 countries as part of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The findings suggest that as melting glaciers add vast amounts of much fresh water to the world’s oceans, the current system in the Atlantic is likely to weaken over time.
This system, called the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), moves ocean water north and south in the Atlantic and mixes surface water with that from deep below. It’s partially responsible for western Europe’s warm and wet climate.
The UN report concluded that „the AMOC is projected to weaken in the 21st century” under every climate-change scenario. That means changes are coming to the north Atlantic even if we significantly limit greenhouse-gas emissions (and, consequently, planetary warming).
„We are definitely going into a world where AMOC is getting weaker,” Francesco Muschitiello, the author of a different study about the AMOC, previously told Business Insider.
As that happens, Europe could get colder, drier weather, and the tropics could experience stronger hurricanes.
Why melting glaciers and warming oceans weaken ocean currents
Scientists liken the AMOC to a kind of water conveyor belt.
Once warmer water reaches the area around the UK, it cools and sinks to the bottom of the Labrador and Nordic Seas. Then that cold water makes a U-turn and snakes its way along the ocean floor, all the way down to Antarctica’s Southern Ocean.
When the AMOC is flowing quickly, western Europe enjoys a wet and warm climate. But if it gets sluggish and weak, warm tropical waters don’t get moved up, and the north Atlantic cools.
The AMOC’s speed depends on a delicate balance of salt and fresh water. Salty water is dense, so it sinks easily. But as Greenland and Antarctica’s ice sheets melt, along with glaciers around the world, more fresh water is joining the AMOC.
That melting is happening quickly, the UN report confirmed. Greenland’s ice is melting six times faster now than it was four decades ago, according to an April study — the ice sheet is sloughing off an estimated 286 billion tons of ice per year. Two decades ago, the annual average was just 50 billion.
In Antarctica, meanwhile, the entire ice sheet is melting nearly six times as fast as it did 40 years ago. In the 1980s, Antarctica lost 40 billion tons of ice annually. In the last decade, that number jumped to an average of 252 billion tons per year.
The addition of all that fresh water makes the salty surface water lighter and less likely to sink, clogging up the circulation’s flow and weakening the AMOC.
A weaker AMOC could mean more extreme weather
The authors of the UN report, which focuses on the state of the world’s oceans and cryosphere (the frozen parts of the planet) say they’re somewhat confident that the AMOC has already weakened relative to the period from 1850-1900.
That weakening is likely to cause changes in our global climate, according to the report, including more storms in northern Europe as well as a decrease in the amount of organic matter produced and circulated in the north Atlantic’s marine food web.
It would also lead to less summer rainfall in southern Asian and the central African Sahel, so parts of central and west Africa could experience more drought conditions.
„We’ll see more extreme weather patterns for sure,” Muschitiello said. „Europe will get colder and drier in the long run. There will be surplus of heat in subtropics, which is important for hurricane formation.”
When subtropical waters are warmer, that contributes to more frequent and intense hurricanes in the Atlantic, since warm air holds more water vapor — and that additional moisture provides fuel for hurricanes.
A weakening in the AMOC would also cause sea levels to rise along along the northeast coast of North America.
Could the AMOC ever stop completely?
In the 2004 film „The Day After Tomorrow,” the AMOC stops almost overnight and an ice age descends on Europe and North America. People freeze to death in the streets, helicopters fall out of the sky, and a massive tidal wave engulfs New York City.
Those effects are not scientifically accurate and were hyperbolized in the film, of course, but the idea that Atlantic water circulation could shut down isn’t wholly outside the realm of possibility. It’s just highly unlikely.
20th Century Fox
According to Muschitiello, there are „reconstructions that suggest that the AMOC stopped entirely in the past, and that these major distortions of the AMOC led to the coldest events ever recorded.”
But such an occurrence would require a huge amount of melt water — the past distortions Muschitiello is referring to happened after large swarms of icebergs broke off glaciers and floated into the north Atlantic ocean. When those iceberg armadas melted, that added an excess of fresh water into the ocean, wreaking havoc on the AMOC.
However, that influx of fresh water was several orders of magnitude higher than today’s melting rates.
A 2017 study found that if the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere instantaneously doubled from the 1990 level, the AMOC could collapse in 300 years. Greenhouse-gas emissions are not likely to increase that dramatically, though.
The authors of the UN report also concluded that „a collapse is very unlikely.” They noted, though, that it would be even more unlikely in a future with less greenhouse-gas emissions.
Italian Alpine glacier close to collapse, officials warn•The Planpincieux glacier, on the Grandes Jorasses peak of the Mont Blanc massif, melted more than usual in the late-summer heat The Planpincieux glacier, on the Grandes Jorasses peak of the Mont Blanc massif, melted more than usual in the late-summer heat (AFP Photo/HO)Rome (AFP) – Part of a massive glacier on the Italian side of the Mont Blanc mountain range is close to collapse after accelerated melting in the late summer heat, officials at a nearby town warned Wednesday.This is the latest of a series of warnings about melting glaciers — in the Alps and elsewhere — as concern grows about the effects of climate change.The mayor of the town of Courmayeur has ordered a local access road closed at night and limited access to the region below the glacier, which is popular with tourists, a town spokesman told AFP.Town spokesman Moreno Vignolini dismissed „apocalyptic” reports in the media that it was threatening to smash down on the town itself.Below the glacier, he said, „there are no homes, only a few unoccupied chalets”.Part of the Planpincieux glacier in the Aosta Valley is in danger of crashing into a valley running parallel to the Courmayeur valley, said Vignolini.”With the strong heat this summer, there has been between August and the first half of September, an acceleration of the melting of the glacier, at an average rate of 35 centimetres (14 inches) a day, up to highs of 50-60 centimetres on some days,” said Vignolini.The chunk of the glacier concerned, which makes up between a fifth and a sixth of the total and weighs around 250,000 tonnes, was threatening to break away and crash down into the valley, he added.”There is a problem with a part of the Planpincieux glacier located at Val Ferret, which is thought to be falling due to a large fracture between the, say, stable part of the glacier and this part,” the mayor of Courmayeur, Stefano Miserocchi, told AFP.Late on Tuesday Miserocchi ordered the night-time closure of the access road to Val Ferret, on the Italian side of Mont Blanc.He has banned walkers from the area below the glacier, which is popular with visitors and has three mountain refuges.- Glacier melt ‘unavoidable’ -Experts at the Fondazione Montagna Sicura (Safe Mountain Foundation), who have been monitoring the glacier for the Val d’Aosta region since 2013, alerted local officials to the latest developments.”This glacier is atypical because it’s temperate, and so is influenced by the temperature of the water flowing below, which particularly exposes it to the global warming in progress,” said the foundation’s secretary-general Jean Pierre Fosson.
But he cautioned against alarmism, stressing that the preventive measures taken so far were for an „unprecedented situation” for a glacier in the region.
While it might break off in a single block, it could just crumble away or not break away at all, he added.
The Foundation monitors 180 glaciers in the Val d’Aosta region and this kind of thing is unavoidable, said Fosson.
„Every year we see two square kilometres (0.8 square miles) of ice disappear” he said. „And it is getting worse with the increasingly hot summers and autumns.”
According to a landmark assessment approved by the 195-nation Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), accelerating melt-off from glaciers and Earth’s ice sheets atop Greenland and Antarctica are driving sea level rise.
Since 2005, the ocean has risen 2.5 times faster than during the 20th century, threatening island nations and coastal cities.
The rate at which the waterline rises will quadruple again by 2100 if carbon emissions continue unabated, the report found.
On Sunday, dozens of people dressed in black attended a symbolic funeral march on a Swiss mountainside to mark the disappearance of an Alpine glacier on Pizol mountain.
A study by Swiss researchers released earlier this month suggested that the Aletsch glacier — the largest in the Alps — could disappear completely by the end of the century if nothing was done to rein in climate change.