The tropics have been quite active. It is rare to have so much activity in July, but it is 2020 so we have come to expect anything at this point. A disturbance in the Gulf of Mexico became Hurricane Hanna early Saturday morning and is headed directly for the southwest Texas coastline just to the south of Corpus Christi. Here is what you need to know about the first Atlantic hurricane of the decade.
What’s the latest on Hanna? For the answers, I always turn to the National Hurricane Center. As of the 7 am CDT advisory, Hurricane Hanna was a Category 1 storm with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph and a central minimum pressure of 982 mb. It was moving westward at 9 mph. Weather radar clearly shows an eye and convection (storms) wrapped around it. Hanna also displays the typical spiral rain band structure. Hurricane, tropical storm and storm surge warnings have been issued for much of the Texas coastline.
As for its future, the National Hurricane Center says that “A mid-level subtropical high to the north of Hanna has built a little and this should result in a turn toward the west-southwest during the next 12-24 hours.” This probably spares a direct impact in the more populated Corpus Christi, but impacts will still be felt throughout the region. The graphic above shoes the expected track before the storm dissipates over Mexico.
While tropical storm or hurricane magnitude winds (and associated surge) will certainly need to be monitored, rainfall and potential flooding will be a problem. IBM/The Weather Company tropical meteorology expert Michael Ventrice tweeted the projected rainfall from its Deep Thunder model and said, “Hanna is going to be a big rainmaker for southern Texas….Could see isolated spots exceed 15″ of rainfall over the next 40 hours.” As typical with landfalling hurricanes, the NOAA Storm Prediction Center is also alerting people of the possibility of tornadoes, particularly in regions to the right of the landfalling eye of the storm. That region includes Houston, Corpus Christi, and other coastal cities.
Hanna is the first hurricane of the 2020 Atlantic season and something tells me that it will not be the last one. Virtually all of my meteorology colleagues are calling for an above-normal season. The eighth named storm of the Atlantic season typically happens around September 24th, and the first hurricane, on average, is climatologically expected on August 10th according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). At this pace, 2020 could challenge the record-breaking 2005 season in which the hurricane name list was exhausted and Greek letters had to be used.
Given the current surge in coronavirus in many coastal states, this increases the urgency of being prepared on both fronts as I recently discussed with the University of Georgia. Stay safe.