The Atlantic Hurricane Season is off to a fast start and is consistent with seasonal predictions for above-normal activity. At the time of writing, the National Hurricane Center is watching a system that could develop off the southeast coast of the United States. If this system develops beyond naming thresholds (and “if” is still the question), it will be called Fay. Climatologically, the “F” storm doesn’t usually form for another two months.

The National Hurricane Center is always my starting point for the latest information on the tropics. Forecasters currently give the system a 70% chance of further development within the next 2 to 5 days. The Tropical Weather Outlook issued on July 8th by the National Hurricane Center says, “Environmental conditions are expected to be conducive for development, and a tropical or subtropical cyclone is likely to form within the next day or so.” The area of low pressure is currently located near the coastal Carolina region and is expected to move northeastward and into the mid-Atlantic region by Friday.

Retired Weather Channel meteorologist Tom Moore posted on his Facebook page, “Don’t think that it will get too strong because of its proximity to the coast in any case… BUT Areas of heavy rain, flooding, gusty winds, and dangerous rip currents and some storm surge can be expected from the coastal Carolinas to New England from now to the weekend….Just keep this in mind if you are planning a beach trip.” I agree with the veteran meteorologist. Understanding the impacts should be as important as knowing the name of a storm. The Weather Prediction Center issued 24-hour rainfall forecast (graphic above) highlighting the potential for significant rainfall in the coming day or so.

Whether Fay becomes a reality or not, the mere fact that I am writing about the possibility of the 6th named storm in early July is stunning. The Atlantic hurricane season is falling right in line with the strangeness of 2020. The Washington Post Capital Weather Gang has an excellent discussion of the abnormal sea surface temperatures and other meteorological conditions that have tropical forecasters concerned. In fact, hurricane expert Dr. Phil Klotzbach and his group at Colorado State University recently increased their projections on the number of storms to twenty (graphic above). By the way, Klotzbach tweeted that the earliest named “F” storm on record is Franklin (2005) on July 22. Many scientists are already comparing the named storm potential of 2020 to that of 2005 when the list of names was exceeded and Greek letters had to be employed.

The table below can be found on a NOAA website. It reveals the date at which we typically expect to see a named storm based on data spanning the period 1966 to 2009. From the graphic, it is evident that the 6th named storm of the year is expected on September 8th.

Interestingly, NOAA announced something else today that caught my eye. In a news release issued by the National Centers for Environmental Information, the agency said, “In 2020 (as of July 8), there have been 10 weather/climate disaster events with losses exceeding $1 billion each to affect the United States.” This startled me because we have not experienced a single hurricane this season, and the peak of the season is still well ahead of us. My meteorological eye will be watching this coastal system and the tropics closely in the coming days and weeks ahead.