Tropical Storm Bret is expected to develop into a hurricane

Tropical Storm Bret, which formed on Monday as the second named storm of the 2023 Atlantic hurricane season, is expected to strengthen into a hurricane over the next few days as it moves toward the Lesser Antilles, the National Hurricane Center said.

Bret formed nearly 1,300 miles east of the Windward Islands and was moving early Tuesday west at 21 miles per hour to the tropical Atlantic. . “This blanket motion is expected to continue for the next few days,” the National Hurricane Center said.

There is uncertainty over the runway and which islands could expect the worst impact. Rain, high winds and storm surges are all risks that could happen in places like the Lesser Antilles, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, but it is expected to weaken after its move to the Caribbean.

Precipitation is expected Thursday afternoon through Friday morning. Four to six inches are expected in parts of the Lesser Antilles, extending from Guadeloupe down to St. Lucia. The islands of Barbados and St. Vincent and the Grenadines can experience about two to four inches of rain.

Bret will likely remain at tropical storm level for the next three to four days, a National Weather Service meteorologist said. There is a possibility that a tropical storm watch could be released Tuesday afternoon or later.

Another Bret-like storm system is following in its footsteps and could make Cindy, the third named storm of the season, later this week.

On Tuesday morning, the storm had maximum sustained winds of 40 mph with higher tastes. Tropical storms earn a name once they have sustained winds of 39 mph. Once winds reach 74 mph, a storm becomes a hurricane, and at 111 mph it becomes a major hurricane.

Bret will likely approach the Lesser Antilles by the end of this week, the National Hurricane Center added. As of early Tuesday morning, there were no coastal watches or warnings in effect.

Bret is actually the third tropical cyclone to reach tropical storm strength this year. The National Hurricane Center said in May which had reassessed a storm that formed off the northeastern United States in mid-January and determined it to be a subtropical storm, making it the first Atlantic cyclone of the year. However, the storm was not retroactively named, making Arlene, which formed in the Gulf of Mexico on June 2, the first named storm in the Atlantic Basin this year.

The Atlantic hurricane season began on June 1 and ends on November 30.

In late May, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted there would be 12 to 17 named storms this year, an “almost normal” amount. There were 14 named storms last year, following two extremely busy Atlantic hurricane seasons in which forecasters ran out of names and had to fall back on backup lists. (In 2020, there were a record 30 named storms.)

However, NOAA didn’t express much certainty in its predictions this year, saying there was a 40% chance of a near-normal season, a 30% chance of a better-than-normal season, and another 30% chance one season lower than normal. normal season.

There were indications of above-average ocean temperatures in the Atlantic, which could fuel storms, and the potential for a higher-than-normal West African monsoon. The monsoon season produces thunderstorm activity that can lead to some of the most powerful and long-lasting Atlantic storms.

This year also features El Niño, which arrived this month. The phenomenon of intermittent weather can have wide-ranging effects on weather around the world, including a reduction in the number of Atlantic hurricanes.

“It’s a pretty rare condition for both to occur at the same time,” Matthew Rosencrans, head of hurricane forecasting at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, said in May.

In the Atlantic, El Niño increases the amount of wind shear, or the change in wind speed and direction from the ocean or land surface to the atmosphere. Hurricanes need a calm environment to form, and the instability caused by increased wind shear makes these conditions less likely. (El Niño has the opposite effect in the Pacific, reducing the amount of wind shear.) Even in average or below-average years, there’s a chance a powerful storm will hit.

As global warming gets worse, this possibility increases. There is a solid consensus among scientists that hurricanes are getting more powerful due to climate change. While there may be no more named storms overall, the likelihood of major hurricanes is increasing.

Climate change is also affecting the amount of rain storms can produce. In a warming world, the air can hold more moisture, meaning a named storm can hold and produce more precipitation, as did Hurricane Harvey in Texas in 2017, when some areas received more than 40 inches of rain in less than 48 hours.

The researchers also found that storms have slowed down, staying over areas longer, in recent decades.

As a storm slows down on water, the amount of moisture the storm can absorb increases. As the storm slows down over land, the amount of rain falling on a single location increases; in 2019, for example, Hurricane Dorian slowed to a crawl over the northwestern Bahamas, resulting in a rainfall total of 22.84 inches in Hope Town during the storm.

Other potential effects of climate change include increased storm surge, rapid intensification, and broader reach of tropical systems.

Rebecca Carballo, Orlando Mayor, Livia Albeck-Ripka AND Derrick Brison Taylor contributed report.