How the warm water that fueled Hurricane Beryl heralds an alarming storm season

The explosive growth of Hurricane Berylwhich has become an unprecedented storm, It shows that the Atlantic and the Caribbean are in a critical situationand the kind of season to expect, according to experts.

Beryl broke several records even before its hurricane-force winds approached land.. The powerful storm is acting more like those monsters that form at the peak of hurricane season, thanks above all to the fact that the water temperatures are currently so high —or higher— than those the region normally reaches in September.

Beryl set the record for the earliest Category 4 storm of the season with winds of at least 130 miles per hour (mph), The first Category 4 storm in recorded history in a month of JuneIt was also the earliest storm to have explosive growth, with winds intensifying by 63 mph in 24 hours, going from an unnamed depression to a hurricane. category 4 in 48 hours.

Beryl is following an unusually southerly path, especially for a major hurricane, said Kristen Corbosiero, an atmospheric scientist at the University at Albany.

It made landfall on Monday on Carriacou Island with winds of up to 150 mph.just shy of a Category 5 storm, and is expected to hit islands in the southeastern Caribbean.

“Beryl is unbelievably strange,” said Weather Underground co-founder, Jeff Mastersa former government hurricane meteorologist. “It’s so unrelated to the weather that you look at it and say, ‘How could this happen in June?“’”.

Get used to it. Meteorologists predicted months ago that it would be a tough year, and now they are comparing it to the record-breaking 1933 and the deadly 2005, the year of Katrina, Rita, Wilma and Dennis.

This is the kind of storm we’re expecting this year, these atypical things happening when and where they shouldn’t.“It’s not just that things are forming and intensifying and reaching higher intensities, but that the probability of rapid intensification is increasing. All of that is coming together right now, and it won’t be the last time.”

Phil Klotzbach, hurricane researcher at the Colorado State University, ranked Beryl of “potential harbinger of more interesting things to come”. It’s not that Beryl isn’t interesting in itself, but it may mean that there will be more threats and more storms of this type in the future, and not just one, but several.”

The temperature of the water around Beryl is 2 to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (°F) above normal, with 84 °Fwhich “is great if you’re a hurricane,” Klotzbach said.

Warm water fuels the storms and clouds that form hurricanes. According to Corbosiero of the University of Albany, The warmer the water and therefore the air at the bottom of the storm, the more likely it is to reach higher altitudes in the atmosphere and create deeper storms..

Sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic and Caribbean “are above what the average September temperature (the peak of the season) should be, given the average of the last 30 years,” Masters said.

It’s not just the warm water on the surface that mattersOcean heat content — a measure of the deeper water that storms need to continue feeding — is well above record levels for this time of year and what the September peak should be, McNoldy said.

So when you get all that heat energy, you can expect some fireworks.“Masters said.

This year, in addition, there is a significant difference between water and upper air temperatures in the tropics.

Warm water fuels the storms and clouds that form hurricanes, so the warmer the water, the more likely it is to reach higher in the atmosphere and create deeper storms. (Ricardo Mazalan)

The greater that difference, the more likely storms are to form and the larger they are, said Kerry Emanuel, a hurricane expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.It’s the warmest I’ve seen the Atlantic relative to the rest of the tropics.“, he claimed.

The waters of the Atlantic have been unusually warm since March 2023 and have had record warmth since April 2023. Klotzbach said a high pressure system that normally sets up trade winds collapsed then and has not returned.

Corbosiero pointed out that Scientists are debating what exactly it does. climate change to hurricanesbut they have reached a consensus that it makes it more likely that they will escalate quickly, as it did Beryland the number of stronger storms, such as Beryl, will increase.

According to Emanuel, the slowing of Atlantic ocean currents, likely caused by climate change, may also be a factor in warming waters.

The arrival of La Niña, a slight cooling of the Peaceful that modifies the climate throughout the worldExperts say La Niña tends to reduce the high-altitude crosswinds that decapitate hurricanes.

La Niña also typically means more hurricanes in the Atlantic and fewer in the Pacific. The eastern Pacific saw no tropical storms in May and June, something that had only happened twice before, Klotzbach said.

Globally, This may be a below average year for tropical cyclonesexcept in the Atlantic.

On Sunday night, Beryl underwent an eyewall replacement, which typically weakens a storm as it forms a new center, Corbosiero said. But the storm has now regained strength.

This is our worst case scenario“We are getting off to an early start with some very severe storms… unfortunately, it looks like it is developing the way we had anticipated.”