Currently in the Atlantic - Sept. 23, 2022

by Glenn "Hurricane" Schwartz

Fiona looks like a monster, Caribbean looks like a mess

Yes, there are other systems to watch in the Atlantic Basin, but the two on this map are the only important ones at the moment. Fiona has been a powerful Category 4 major hurricane-easy to spot. The Caribbean disturbance is-what? Nothing? I'll call it a "mess". First, Fiona.

Fiona - moving north, but still over warm waters

I've been talking about the "marine heat wave" in the North Atlantic for weeks (a pretty obvious climate change connection). Now we're going to see how that unusually warm water affects a major hurricane in a part of the ocean that should cause it to weaken. Not this time. Ocean temps are up to 26°C (79°F) as far north as the latitude of NEW JERSEY! So, Fiona is a long way from weakening.

Unusually warm waters up to NEW JERSEY latitude!

Theoretically, Fiona can get to within about 300 miles of Nova Scotia as a major hurricane. That's only about 12 hours of ocean cooling before landfall. Since Fiona will be moving quickly and hitting the coast almost "straight-on" (perpendicular, like Sandy did 10 years ago), it will have devastating impacts in the Canadian Maritimes. It could become the strongest storm to ever hit that country. As of now, the only helpful forecast is for it to make landfall closer to low tide than high tide. Still, Canadians will be remembering Fiona for decades-or generations.

Next, the Caribbean and potential U.S. threat....

Quick test: Guess where the center is?

This thing is what everyone is talking about? This thing is causing a run on water in Miami? As of this writing, it still isn't even a Tropical Depression, let alone a named storm!

There is a bit of a low-level circulation near the middle of the picture. But all the high clouds are moving in the same direction-toward South America. That shear will hurt development until things change. It's still too close to South America. It's still in a historically unfavorable part of the Caribbean for strengthening.

But all signs are that it eventually will develop and will intensify.

How soon? Too early to tell.

How intense will it get? WAAAAY too early to tell

How will it track? Toward Central America-or the U.S.? Too early to tell.

We still want to know, right? We want to know exactly where and when it will hit and how damaging it will be. The National Hurricane Center forecasts have become more and more accurate over recent decades. And their forecasts regularly beat EVERY computer model. But all forecasts are not equal-some have bigger ranges of possibilities than others.

Wide range - but clearly a U.S. threat next week

The above map shows good agreement for a track somewhat south of Jamaica by Sunday, but then a wide range of possibilities into the Gulf of Mexico by the middle of next week. But it could be just about anywhere in the Gulf or near Florida. The intensity forecasts show a huge range...

Unusually wide range of possible intensities

It's almost impossible to see a range of possibilities this large-anywhere from a weak Tropical Storm to a Category 4 hurricane. But if this storm stays over the near 90 degree, deeply warm water in the Northwest Caribbean, it would be hard for it to be on the weaker end. A worst case would be a track between Cuba and the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico in a small zone called the Yucatan channel.

Peak of season + extra warm waters + low shear = potential for big problems for some in a week or so.

Glenn "Hurricane" Schwartz

What you need to know, currently

Fridays for the Future will be holding a global climate strike tomorrow, calling on leaders to take long overdue action on climate change. The organizations demands include:

  1. Keeping the global temperature rise below 1.5 °C compared to pre-industrial levels.
  2. Ensuring climate justice and equity.
  3. Listening to the best united science currently available.

You can view their map here to find a strike in your city.

Today, for Loss and Damage Action day, activists called on polluters to pay reparations for the harm they've caused.

"In response to climate disasters, vulnerable communities rely on adaptation measures (eg. building flood defenses such as embankments) to survive; but these efforts can only go so far," Currently's Anna Abraham wrote in August. "Based on existing emission trends, climate change has dramatically increased the number of extreme weather events, making many disasters completely unavoidable. The social and fiscal impacts of these unavoidable events are referred to as ‘loss and damage.’"

Click here to read Abraham's full article on Loss and Damage finance.

Register for tomorrow's strike here!