Saturday 13 October 2012! Almost 75% done with the ‘official’ 2012 Atlantic Hurricane Season, and there is plenty of cyclonic activity our there in the tropics.
In the larger Atlantic basin there is Tropical Storm RAFAEL, the 17th named tropical cyclone of the 2012 Atlantic Hurricane Season, over the Lesser Antilles moving generally to the northwest, but expected to make a gradual turn to the north and eventually the northeast as it interacts with a trough over the southeastern USA, the Gulf of Mexico and Florida. With maximum sustained winds barely reaching 65 kph the storm had begun to show signs of getting better organized and becoming stronger, but the environment ahead contains strong wind shear and may not be too favorable for further development.
Closer to Florida there is now Tropical depression PATTY, the weakened remnants of the tropical storm of the same name, moving generally southward over Cuba being pushed by the system that is descending over the Gulf of Mexico and the southeastern USA.
What is interesting to see with RAFAEL and PATTY is how they are getting closer to one another and yet they are tracking in opposite directions under the influence and interaction of several atmospheric components now over the Gulf, Caribbean and western Atlantic region.
Farther to east over the Cape Verde Islands there is a large tropical wave that may need monitoring as it moves generally toward the west and ‘hurricane alley’ in the next day or so.
Continuing our outlook to the east, there is not much tropical activity along the ‘tropical wave assembly line’ over Equatorial Africa, but beyond the eastern coast of the African continent in the central Indian Ocean we find the first tropical cyclone to be generated in the southern hemisphere in a long time; a sign that after the ‘autumnal equinox’ the ocean waters and atmosphere south of the equator have started to grow warmer. This is Cyclone ANAIS, which has rapidly strengthened in the past 24 hours from tropical storm to a category 2 tropical cyclone. The storm is moving southwest toward Madagascar.
Far over the Philippines Sea, in the northwestern Pacific, Typhoon PRIPAROON a category 1 tropical cyclone is moving toward the northeast near the island of Okino-Tori-Shima (Japan) on a path that could take between Okinawa and Iwo-Jima. This typhoon is being shadowed by a large cell of stormy weather to its southeast that exhibits some interesting characteristics and may warrant close monitoring for potential further development.
At the other extreme of the Pacific Ocean near the coast of Mexico a strong tropical wave is generating strong storms and plenty of rain some 1,000 kilometers to the WSW of Acapulco, Mexico, and it is being monitored for potential cyclonic development over the next 24-36 hours.
So, there is plenty of activity in the northern tropics even as the transition toward a regime of tropical cyclones over the southern hemisphere has already began. While we have seen above average activity, in terms of number of tropical cyclones, over the Atlantic and Eastern Pacific basins, and plenty of activity also over the Northwestern Pacific, we are still below the historical average of the past 50 years on a calendar year-to-date basis worldwide. We will continue to monitor to see what else Mother Nature has in store in terms of tropical cyclone activity in what remains of 2012.