UPDATE — Earlier this week, “non-tropical invest 91L” was predicted as only having a 30 percent chance of developing into a tropical system. Thursday evening the storm defied the odds, and developed into the first named storm for 2017, “Tropical Storm Arlene.”
Steve Pfaff, warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service, says “the storm has sustained winds of 50 m.p.h., and is moving west at approximately 31 m.p.h.”
According to Pfaff, Arlene is currently located about 1,100 miles to the west of the Azores Islands, and poses no threat to land.
“We (NWS) anticipate the westward motion to continue today, but the storm is forecast to become absorbed by another larger area of low pressure later this evening,” Pfaff said. “This is probably the last day of this storm.”
Could this early storm be a harbinger for the rest of the season? According to Pfaff, “It’s possible. But the official NOAA forecast won’t come out until May.”
The official start of the Atlantic Hurricane Season is June 1.
“We’re going to do our due diligence before putting the forecast out there,” Pfaff said. “We’re looking at the developing El Niño, La Niña, and and neutral cycles in the Pacific.”
According to the official NOAA website, “El Niño and La Niña are opposite phases of what is known as the ‘El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) cycle.’ The ENSO cycle is a scientific term that describes the fluctuations in temperature between the ocean and atmosphere in the east-central Equatorial Pacific (approximately between the International Date Line and 120 degrees West).”
“We’re predicting a neutral or El Niño season this year,” Pfaff said. He notes that a typical El Niño season indicates a weaker hurricane season in the Atlantic, but a Neutral year could result in a stronger one.
ORIGINAL STORY BELOW
WILMINGTON — The National Weather Service National Hurricane Center in Miami issued a “special tropical weather outlook” Monday concerning a storm off the Atlantic coast right now.
Dubbed “non-tropical Invest 91L,” the storm has potential to develop into a tropical system over the next three to five days, almost a month-and-a-half before the official start of the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane season (June 1 to Nov. 30).
According to Steven Pfaff, a warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Wilmington, the storm is currently an “oceanic cyclone, with a nice counter clockwise spin.” The storm only has a 30 percent chance of developing into a tropical storm, but Pfaff notes it is not out of the realm of possibility at this time of year.
“We’ve had storms develop in January, but it would take very special circumstances for this to turn tropical,” Pfaff said.
The storm, currently located between the Azores and Bermuda, has limited rainfall, but areas of gale force-winds are being detected by the NWS to the west of it’s center.
According to NOAA, the storm will continue to drift east/southeast over the next three to five days, then turn north, possibly bringing some rain to the east coast.
Pfaff does note that the storm will continue to build up swell in the North Atlantic over the next few days, and has potential to disrupt trans-Atlantic shipping. Fortunately though, it’s greatest effect would more than likely be waves for area surfers.
“Surfers are our favorites, they’re so in-tune with the weather.” Pfaff said, “I’m sure they’re already on the lookout for this one.”