Three named storms early on in the 2013 Atlantic hurricane season reinforce active season predictions.
Steve Pfaff, warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Wilmington, said Tropical Storm Chantal shows that there is probably a quick jump on the season.
“It was a pretty early tropical wave to cross the Atlantic,” Pfaff said. “I mean typically we don’t see this type of activity until August.”
Chantal formed on Sunday, July 7, and as of Wednesday, July 10, at 2 p.m. was moving west at 29 mph, 270 miles east-southeast of Kingston, Jamaica, with maximum sustained winds of 45 mph.
The first named storm usually occurs in July with an average of 12 named storms per year, Pfaff said.
Tropical Storm Andrea formed in early June and Tropical Storm Barry formed in mid-June in the Atlantic Ocean.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association’s Climate Prediction Center forecast an active or extremely active season with a 70 percent likelihood of 13 to 20 named storms, with seven to 10 possibly becoming hurricanes.
“The forecast is up to 20 named storms, so that just helps validate that, if it’s already this active,” Pfaff said.
Locally, the Wilmington area could see moisture, heavy rain and increased surf as impacts from Chantal.
“Certainly, increased potential for rip currents next week and certainly heavy rainfall,” Pfaff said.
But there are big question marks about the storm’s forecast at this point, he said.
“It’s forecast to remain a tropical storm as it moves through the Caribbean then starts to cross the Greater Antilles, the Dominican Republic, Haiti,” Pfaff said. “There’s greater uncertainty beyond what happens after it moves through the islands and begins to move toward the Bahamas, and that won’t be until toward the later half of the week, Thursday, Friday time frame. … It looks like the most probable scenario at this point is we see moisture from the system as it interacts with the Southeast coast next week. Whether it’s still a storm or not is going to be up in the air. We won’t know until it crosses the island.”
The storm is worth keeping an eye on and being prepared for, he said, especially as the heart of hurricane season is approaching in the August and September time frame
“We need to remain vigilant,” Pfaff said.