The North Atlantic tropics finally woke up after a weeks long period of dormancy…with the birth of Tropical Storm Beryl Thursday. The system formed in the west-central Atlantic after days in a formative stage as a tropical wave with no defined surface low.
Beryl is a very small system with tropical storm force winds only extending out 35 miles from the center of circulation Thursday night. However, it has continued to strengthen through Thursday Night and is expected to become a minimal hurricane later Friday.
Although the system is depicted to move near the Lesser Antilles late-Sunday, vertical wind shear…increasing wind speed with height…is expected to increase dramatically over Beryl as it approaches Sunday, leading to a rapid weakening and possible dissipation. This is highly likely given the small size of the circulation. However, regardless of what the status of the system is when it moves over the islands, accompanying what remains will be gusty winds, showers and thunderstorms and local downpours.
Meanwhile, in the Western Pacific, Maria has become a Category 5-equivalent super typhoon with maximum sustained winds of 160 mph. The first Category 5-equivalent cyclone observed in either the North Pacific or North Atlantic in 2018. Maria moved over Guam and the southern Mariana Islands as a tropical storm, bringing strong winds and locally heavy rainfall. Damage was reported to Rota’s power system, but no damage to personal property or injuries were reported. The system then became a typhoon west of the island chain, before rapidly intensifying to a Category 3-equivalent typhoon around 1800 UTC (1 pm CDT Thursday in the US), then to its present intensity (as of this post) several hours later.
Maria is expected to move generally northwestward over open water during the next three days. It will remain a powerful typhoon thanks to absolutely steamy waters warmer than 90 F/32 C, 1 C or more above normal. Afterwards, it will move over slightly cooler waters, but may remain a powerful Category 3 or 4 hurricane (115 mph+ winds) as it approaches some of the southern most small Japanese islands on Tuesday.
The most significant threats from Maria will be increasing high surf and rip currents for areas ahead of Maria (Philippines, southern Japan, Taiwan) followed by heavy rainfall and damaging winds for the remote southern Japanese islands as it moves closer toward mainland China midweek.
Hurricane Bud strengthened to a Category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Wind Scale with maximum sustained winds of 130 mph overnight. The update released at 8 am PDT by the National Hurricane Center has now downgraded back to Category 3 with 125 mph winds. With ocean heat content (which accounts for warmth with depth) dropping off quickly farther to the north, Bud has likely begun a weakening trend which will likely take it below major hurricane status by tonight and weaken it to a minimal hurricane by tomorrow.
As Bud approaches the southern tip of Baja on Thursday, rainfall and high surf will increase over the area. I expect tropical storm watches to be put up over southern Baja California Peninsula by this evening. The biggest threat to southern Baja will be locally heavy rain from rain bands and high surf. The system will likely be a dying tropical storm by the time it arrives near Cabo San Lucas Thursday night.
Again, still expecting a moisture surge up the Gulf to generate increasing monsoon showers and thunderstorms into northern Mexico and Southwest US this weekend. Watch out in these areas for potential flash flooding concerns.
Checking in on the Atlantic…there’s a very slight chance of tropical development in the western Caribbean during the next 5 days (20% according to the National Hurricane Center). However, regardless of development, it appears a pattern is setting up for a significant surge of deep moisture from the Caribbean into Texas early next week, potentially bringing significant rainfall and possibly flooding. Texas is currently facing growing drought conditions.
I’ll keep an eye on things, but regardless, I would be mindful of heavy rainfall in the forecast later this weekend and early next week if you live in Southeast Texas into Louisiana and perhaps farther north. I’ll keep an eye on things!