Tropical Storm Margot is expected to become a hurricane

Tropical Storm Margot formed in the North Atlantic Ocean on Thursday, becoming the 13th storm of the 2023 Atlantic hurricane season.

The eye of the storm was 705 miles west-northwest of the Cabo Verde Islands on Friday evening, moving west-northwest at 17 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The storm had maximum sustained winds of 40 mph

Tropical disturbances that carried winds of 39 mph have a name. Once winds reach 74 mph, the storm becomes a hurricane, and when it reaches 111 mph it becomes a major hurricane.

The storm is not currently a threat to Earth.

“Some gradual strengthening is expected over the next few days, with Margot expected to become a hurricane early next week,” the hurricane center said.

Margot is one of two active tropical cyclones in the Atlantic Ocean. Farther west, Hurricane Lee became a Category 5 storm Thursday night, according to the Hurricane Center.

Hurricane season began in the Atlantic Ocean on June 1 and will last until November 30.

In late May, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted that there would be between 12 and 17 named storms this year, an “almost normal” amount. On August 10, NOAA officials revised their estimates upward, to 14 to 21 storms.

There were 14 named storms last year, after two very busy hurricane seasons in the Atlantic, when forecasters ran out of names and had to resort to standby lists. (A record 30 named storms occurred in 2020.)

This year is marked by an El Niño pattern that arrived in June. The intermittent weather phenomenon can have widespread impacts on weather around the world, and typically hinders the number of Atlantic hurricanes.

In the Atlantic Ocean, the El Niño phenomenon 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 instability caused by increased wind shear makes these conditions less likely. (The El Niño phenomenon has the opposite effect in the Pacific region, reducing the amount of wind shear.)

Meanwhile, rising sea surface temperatures this year pose a number of threats, including the potential for increased storm power.

This unusual confluence of factors has made predicting solid storms more difficult.

“Things are not looking good,” Phil Klotzbach, a hurricane researcher at Colorado State University, said after NOAA issued its updated forecast in August. “There’s a lot of crazy stuff that we haven’t seen before.”

There is a strong consensus among scientists that hurricanes are becoming more powerful due to climate change. Although there may not be any more generally named storms, the likelihood of major hurricanes is increasing.

Climate change also affects the amount of rain storms can produce. In a warming world, air can hold more moisture, which means a named storm could stick around and produce more rain, like Hurricane Harvey did in Texas in 2017, when some areas received more than 40 inches of rain in less than 48 hours. .

Researchers have also found that storms have slowed down, and stayed over regions longer, over the past few decades.

As a storm slows down over water, the amount of moisture the storm can absorb increases. When a storm slows down on land, the amount of rain that falls in one place increases; In 2019, for example, Hurricane Dorian slowed its crawl over the northwestern Bahamas, dropping a total of 22.84 inches of rain in Hope Town during the storm.

Other potential impacts of climate change include increased storm surge, rapid intensification, and expanding tropical systems.

John Keefe Contributed to reports.

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