As residents along the Louisiana coast took in the damage left after Hurricane Ida made landfall, and a day after Tropical Storm Julian formed and rapidly degraded, Tropical Storm Kate formed in the Atlantic on Monday, becoming the 11th storm. of a busy hurricane season.
The National Hurricane Center said Tropical Storm Kate would move across the open waters of the central Atlantic. There were no coast guards or warnings for the storm.
It’s been a dizzying few weeks for meteorologists who have tracked several named storms that formed in quick succession in the Atlantic, bringing stormy weather, flooding and damaging winds to parts of the United States and the Caribbean. In addition to Ida and Julian, in recent weeks Tropical Storm Fred made landfall in the Florida Panhandle, Hurricane Grace hit Haiti and Mexico, and Tropical Storm Henri cut power and brought record rains to the northeastern United States.
The links between hurricanes and climate change are becoming increasingly clear. A warming planet can expect stronger hurricanes over time and a higher incidence of the most powerful storms – although the total number of storms could drop as factors such as stronger wind shear can prevent weaker storms from forming.
Hurricanes also get wetter due to more water vapor in the warmer atmosphere; scientists have suggested that storms like Hurricane Harvey in 2017 produced far more rain than they would have without the human effects on the climate. Also, rising sea levels contribute to higher storm surge — the most destructive element of tropical cyclones.
A major United Nations climate report released in August warned that countries have delayed cutting their fossil fuel emissions for so long that they can no longer prevent global warming from increasing over the next 30 years, leading to more frequent life-threatening heat waves and severe droughts. Tropical cyclones have likely intensified over the past 40 years, the report said, a shift that can’t be explained by natural variability alone.
Ana became the season’s first named storm on May 23, marking the seventh straight year that a named storm developed in the Atlantic before the official start of the season on June 1.
In May, scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted that there would be 13 to 20 named storms this year, including six to 10 hurricanes and three to five major hurricanes of Category 3 or higher in the Atlantic Ocean. In early August, in an interim forecast update, they continued to warn that the hurricane season will be above average this year, suggesting a busy season end.
Matthew Rosencrans, of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said an updated forecast suggested there would be 15 to 21 named storms by the end of the season on Nov. 30, including seven to 10 hurricanes. Kate is the 11th named storm of 2021.
Last year, there were 30 named storms, including six major hurricanes, forcing meteorologists to exhaust the alphabet and use Greek letters for the second time.
It was the highest number of storms on record, surpassing the 28 recorded in 2005, and included the second-highest number of hurricanes on record.