Atlantic active again as peak of hurricane season approaches

·6 min read

Following a nearly two-month-long summer vacation, the Atlantic Ocean basin has finally woken up. As two named storms -- Danielle and Earl -- inhabit the basin, AccuWeather forecasters continue to monitor for other potential tropical threats in the coming days.

There will be a brief window in the next few days when more than one hurricane can churn in the basin simultaneously for the first time in nearly two years.

The last time the Atlantic basin had more than one active hurricane in the basin was during the record-shattering 2020 hurricane season. For a brief time on Sept. 16, 2020, Hurricane Paulette, Hurricane Sally and Hurricane Teddy maintained at least Category 1 hurricane strength simultaneously.

Here's a rundown of the now-active Atlantic basin as the climatological peak of hurricane season, Sept. 10, quickly approaches.

Hurricane Danielle (top center) and Tropical Storm Earl (lower left of center) can be seen over the Atlantic Ocean on Monday, Sept. 5, 2022. (AccuWeather Enhanced RealVue™ Satellite)

As of Tuesday morning, Danielle was located roughly 805 miles (1,290 km) west-northwest of the Azores, an island chain located to the west of Portugal. Danielle had maximum sustained winds of 75 mph (120 km/h) and was moving to the east-northeast at 6 mph (9 km/h), according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC). Hurricane-force winds extended up to 25 miles (35 km) from the hurricane's center. Tropical-storm-force winds extended outward up to 150 miles (240 km).

Danielle is expected to retain its hurricane status through midweek before it tracks into an area more hostile to tropical development. The storm is expected to lose wind intensity late this week and eventually transition back to a tropical storm. By the upcoming weekend, Danielle is expected to lose enough wind intensity to become a tropical rainstorm.

Danielle is forecast to remain over the open waters of the Atlantic and pose no threat to land for much of its life cycle. However, late this week and into the upcoming weekend, depending on the storm's exact track, Danielle may usher in impacts to portions of Europe.

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"After transitioning into a tropical rainstorm, there is some chance that Danielle could bring rain to western Europe next week. The extent and location of the rain will depend on the exact track of the storm," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Adam Douty explained, noting that gusty winds could also accompany the storm.

Impacts from former tropical storms or hurricanes are irregular but not altogether uncommon across Europe. If any rain from Danielle reaches Europe, it would be the first such occurrence this season.

Over the weekend, Tropical Storm Earl made its closest approach to land as it skimmed the northeastern Caribbean. In Puerto Rico, over 3 inches of rain were reported in some areas. On the south side of the island, in Cayo Matias, 2 people were reported to have been killed after being struck by lightning as thunderstorms moved through the area.

As of Tuesday morning, Tropical Storm Earl was located 595 miles (960 km) south of Bermuda. The storm was moving to the north at a speed of 5 mph (7 km/h) with maximum sustained winds of 65 mph (105 km/h), which is just shy of hurricane strength. Tropical-storm-force winds extended 115 miles (185 km) from Earl.

The storm brought sporadic rainfall to the Leeward and the Virgin Islands and briefly some stronger wind gusts early in the weekend. Most of the storm's strongest winds occurred on its north and east sides, away from land.

Rain will continue to impact parts of the British Virgin Islands into Monday, but impacts elsewhere across the Caribbean will taper off by late Sunday. The only exception being rough seas will remain a concern for northeastern portions of the Caribbean even as Earl pulls away and tracks into the open Atlantic.

Earl is set to remain a tropical storm through the early week but will gradually gain strength each day. Forecasters expect Earl to become the second hurricane of the season for the Atlantic by midweek.

Earl is then expected to quickly increase in forward speed and race across the open Atlantic, and pass southeast of Bermuda. Just how far the storm passes from Bermuda will determine the impacts experienced there.

"There has been some shift westward in the expected track of Earl, bringing it closer to the island of Bermuda. Should this trend continue, gusty winds and torrential rainfall would be a possibility," AccuWeather Meteorologist Alex DaSilva said, also noting that rough seas and rip currents would be a hazard regardless.

At this time, from 1-2 inches (25-50 mm) of rain is forecast with the bulk of the downpours to occur at the end of the week. Non-flooding rainfall is generally welcomed on the islands and is captured and repurposed.

The storm is forecast to continue on a generally northeastward track over the open Atlantic through the upcoming weekend, likely still as a hurricane. Earl could become the first major hurricane of the season in the Atlantic by Friday.

Following a flurry of development late last week, AccuWeather forecasters are monitoring the Atlantic basin for additional potential development in the coming days. Mother Nature will try to toss a little more zest into this hurricane season as tropical waves continue moving off the African coast and into the open waters of the Atlantic.

"A tropical wave currently emerging off the west coast of Africa will have to be monitored for development this week," Douty cautioned. "Conditions appear to be somewhat conducive for tropical development through the first half of the week, so it is not out of the question a tropical depression or storm can develop."

Time is ticking on this scenario, though, and forecasters say the chance for development is rather slim.

As the week progresses, conditions in the path of this tropical wave will become a bit more hostile to organized tropical development.

"By the second half of the week, the feature is expected to move into a part of the central Atlantic less favorable for tropical development, which may cause it to become less organized," Douty explained.

Even if the climatological peak of hurricane season passes with no additional development, the Atlantic hurricane season is far from over.

AccuWeather forecasters expect a total of 12 to 16 named tropical systems in the Atlantic hurricane basin when the final tally is in this season, including five to seven hurricanes, two or three of which may strengthen into major hurricanes (Category 3 or greater on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale) and three or four direct impacts to the United States.

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