Meteorologists are warning of a potentially major storm system moving toward the Caribbean that could threaten the US, Mexico or island nations like Cuba or Jamaica by next week.
The system has not yet formed a cyclone and is currently being referred to as “Invest 98L” — but the National Hurricane Center (NHC) gives it an 80 per cent chance of forming a tropical depression by the end of the weekend.
If it reaches tropical storm status or higher, it would likely be named Hermine.
After a slow start, the 2022 hurricane season in the Atlantic is starting to really heat up. Hurricane Fiona formed over the weekend, slamming into Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, leaving millions without power or running water.
Fiona is hitting Turks and Caicos on Tuesday and is expected to reach Category 4 status before getting to Bermuda later this week. Another system, Tropical Storm Gaston, formed on Tuesday in the north Atlantic, but is forecast to have little impact on any land.
But the system to really keep an eye on could be Invest 98L, which is heading towards the Carribean.
Starting on Wednesday, heavy winds and rain could hit islands like Grenada and St Lucia in the eastern Caribbean, the NHC warns.
11 AM EDT Tue: Satellite data indicate that the tropical wave located several hundred miles east of the Windward Islands has become better organized. Additional development is expected, and a tropical depression is likely to form within the next few days. https://t.co/tW4KeGe9uJ pic.twitter.com/MdAKr39FYH
— National Hurricane Center (@NHC_Atlantic) September 20, 2022
If the storm reaches the southeast Caribbean mostly intact, warm waters could then help quickly power up the storm, reports AccuWeather. Warmer oceans can add a ton of energy and water to a storm, which can magnify the damage once the storm reaches land.
It’s too soon to say exactly where might be at risk. But the potential path tracks anywhere from Mexico through the Gulf Coast and into Florida, AccuWeather says.
Hurricane season was slow to start this year, with just three named storms forming by the end of August. But since the start of September, activity has really picked up, with three hurricanes and a tropical storm forming so far.
Hurricane Fiona has so far been the most destructive, and the only one to reach “major” hurricane status of Category 3 or higher.
Over the next few decades, hurricanes are likely to grow stronger on average as the climate crisis accelerates and raises both air and ocean temperatures – bringing a higher chance of destructive storms.
The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) had forecast an “above-normal” season this year, with up to 20 named storms and 10 hurricanes, including three to five major hurricanes.
Hurricane season lasts between June and November, usually peaking in mid-September.