Tropical storm Julian forms in the Atlantic

Tropical Storm Julian's maximum sustained winds had increased to near 50 mph, with higher gusts. PHOTO: NYTIMES

NEW YORK (NYTIMES) - Tropical Storm Julian formed in the Atlantic on Sunday (Aug 29), becoming the 10th named storm of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season, forecasters said.

The storm emerged as Louisiana braced for Hurricane Ida, which forecasters described as an "extremely dangerous major" hurricane.

Ida, which made landfall on the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, battered the Louisiana coast with sustained wind speeds of 150 mph (241kmh), the National Hurricane Center said.

Unlike Ida, however, Tropical Storm Julian was expected to weaken as early as Monday and become post-tropical by Monday evening, the hurricane centre said. Julian was 865 miles (1,400km) south-south-east of Cape Race, Newfoundland, and was moving toward the north-east.

The storm was expected to accelerate toward the north-east before moving north over the North Atlantic through Tuesday, the centre said.

Forecasters said wind data derived from satellites indicated that Julian's maximum sustained winds had increased to near 50 mph, with higher gusts. The storm was expected to strengthen Sunday before weakening, the centre said.

It has been a dizzying few weeks for meteorologists who monitored several named storms that formed in quick succession in the Atlantic, bringing stormy weather, flooding and damaging winds to different parts of the United States and the Caribbean.

Tropical Storm Fred made landfall Aug 16 in the Florida Panhandle. As Fred moved across the south-east, it brought heavy rains and touched off several tornadoes. At least five people were killed after flash floods wiped out homes in Western North Carolina in the wake of the storm.

Grace formed in the eastern Caribbean on Aug 14, the same day a 7.2-magnitude earthquake rocked Haiti's western peninsula. The storm quickly moved west as the country struggled to free people trapped in rubble, dumping at least 10 inches (25cm) of rain.

Grace then made another landfall on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, bringing more heavy rain, power failures and hundreds of evacuations.

Another landfall, on the eastern coast of Mexico's mainland, left at least eight people dead.

And Henri formed Aug 16 as a tropical storm off the East Coast of the United States. It strengthened into a Category 1 hurricane but was downgraded before making landfall in Rhode Island, sparing the region the worst of what had been predicted.

It thrashed the North-east with fierce winds and torrential rain, knocking out power to more than 140,000 households from New Jersey to Maine.

Ana became the first named storm of the season on May 23, making this the seventh year in a row that a named storm developed in the Atlantic before the official start of the season on June 1.

The links between hurricanes and climate change are becoming more apparent. A warming planet could expect to have stronger hurricanes over time, and a higher incidence of the most powerful storms - although the overall number of storms could drop, because factors like stronger wind shear could keep weaker storms from forming.

Hurricanes are also becoming wetter because of more water vapour in the warmer atmosphere; scientists have suggested storms like Hurricane Harvey in 2017 produced far more rain than they would have without the human effects on climate.

Also, rising sea levels are contributing to higher storm surge - the most destructive element of tropical cyclones.

In May, scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecast that there would be 13 to 20 named storms this year, six to 10 of which would be hurricanes, and three to five major hurricanes of Category 3 or higher in the Atlantic.

In early August, in a midseason update to the forecast, they continued to warn that this year's hurricane season would be an above average one, suggesting a busy end to the season.

Mr Matthew Rosencrans, of the NOAA, said an updated forecast suggested there would be 15 to 21 named storms, including seven to 10 hurricanes, by the end of the season on Nov 30. Julian is the 10th named storm of 2021.

Last year, there were 30 named storms, including six major hurricanes, forcing meteorologists to exhaust the alphabet for the second time and move to using Greek letters.

It was the highest number of storms on record, surpassing the 28 from 2005, and included the second-highest number of hurricanes reported in history.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.