Currently in the Atlantic — September 22, 2022

by Glenn "Hurricane" Schwartz

This is what the peak of the 2022 hurricane season was expected to look like. There was a long lull in July and August, but the picture below shows a full FIVE systems that range from weak disturbances to major hurricane Fiona.

Gaston is at the top of the screen and is another "fish storm". A strong disturbance is on the far right, just coming off the coast of Africa, but is expected to turn northward quickly and not become a threat in our part of the world.

Fiona-Major hurricane-threat to Canadian Maritimes

Fiona is moving away from the Bahamas but will be tracking close to Bermuda. Then it is likely to slam into either Nova Scotia or Newfoundland in Canada. These areas have been hit by hurricanes in the past, but the extra warm waters in the North Atlantic may help make Fiona unusually intense when it hits.

Fiona-likely direct hit in Nova Scotia

This track is far west of where the models were predicting it to be just a few days ago. Below is the map from the same models from Sept. 17th.

Earlier predictions were WAAAY too far east

Now for the next threat to land. It will likely become Hermine (her-MEEN), unless one of the other systems develops faster. As you probably know by now, it has the potential to cause trouble in the Caribbean and parts of the U.S.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Even though there is good agreement from computer models for at least the next few days, the farther we go out in time the more uncertainty there is. And not just because some folks are talking about landfalls more than 5 days in advance. There are two immediate issues that make the future less certain:

  1. The disturbance doesn't even have a defined center yet. Remember the term, "garbage in, garbage out"? Accurate computer projections depend on accurate INITIALIZATION. What point are we exactly starting from?
  2. The disturbance is so close to the South American coast that it can't develop quickly, and that fact is going to continue until it moves far enough away from the coast.
  3. The disturbance is being inhibited by the upper-air outflow from Fiona. It will have a hard time developing before Fiona moves much farther away.

So, we'll start with a wide view of where the FIVE tropical systems are expected to be on Saturday.

The position of the Caribbean storm (or eventual hurricane) by Sunday is NOT immediately threatening land, so we're a long way from any potential U.S. threat.

European model potential LOW locations by Sat. night

But after that, the position of the storm becomes more and more uncertain. Some storms in this area at this time of year hit Central America. Others go into the Gulf of Mexico. And some curve more quickly and threaten Florida or even the Bahamas. But this particular pattern means that you can't take ANY forecast beyond 5 days literally. And anyone who tells you with confidence where this storm will hit and how intense it will be when it hits IS EITHER AN AMATEUR, A GUESSER, OR JUST DOING IT FOR CLICKBAIT. DON'T TAKE THEM LITERALLY!

Some on social media get so excited about possible extreme storms that we call them "WISHCASTERS" (they love weather so much they subconsciously wish for a "worst case scenario").

This storm is likely to become a serious threat to land, but not until next week. Let's find out where it is right now before we extrapolate a week or more ahead.....

Glenn "Hurricane" Schwartz

What you need to know, currently.

In early September of 1775 the wind off the coast of Newfoundland suddenly began to pick up. Newfoundland — an island off the coast of Canada, about the size of Ireland — was unaccustomed to hurricanes and the process of weather forecasting at the time was grounded more firmly in magic than math. According to Newfoundland’s Annual Register, around September 11th, “there arose a tempest of a most particular kind — the sea rose on a sudden 30 feet; above 700 boats, with all the people belonging thereto, were lost, as also 11 ships with most of their crews.”

Newspapers estimated that as many as 4,000 people died. One child, out on a fishing boat when the seas rose abruptly, was reported to have survived by being tied to the mast of a ship. For many years afterwards, residents claimed they could hear the cries of drowning men drifting up to the shore — a phenomenon that became known as “the hollies.”

Thanks to modern weather forecasting there is little to no chance that Hurricane Fiona, which is currently headed towards the Gulf of St. Lawrence, will be anywhere near as destructive as the Independence Hurricane of 1775. Still, it’s an unusual event for Canada, which rarely sees strong storms due the cold waters off its coast.

Fiona battered Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic over the weekend, causing widespread flooding, mudslides, and power outages. Roughly 75 percent of Puerto Rico was still without power at press time. The storm strengthened to a category 4 on Wednesday and it moved north through the Atlantic; although it’s expected to weaken as it approaches Canada, it still poses a significant risk to coastal areas.

While hurricanes have not necessarily become more frequent — this season, for example, has been unusually quiet thus far — data shows that they have become stronger due to climate change. Warmer air is able to hold more water vapor, making the storms themselves wetter and causing increased risk of flooding. The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane scale is based entirely off of wind speed and does not take into account the multi-level threats of these new, mutating storms. Even a hurricane like Fiona, which hit Puerto Rico as a Category 2, can cause immense damage, especially to regions that are still recovering from recent storms.