Tropical Storm Philip forms in the Atlantic

Tropical Storm Philip formed on Saturday, becoming the latest named storm of the 2023 Atlantic hurricane season, but remained away from land until late Sunday.

The National Hurricane Center estimates the storm produced sustained winds of up to 50 mph. As of 11 p.m. Sunday, it was about 1,280 miles from the Cape Verde Islands, the hurricane center said.

Tropical disturbances that have winds of at least 39 mph earn their name. Once winds reach 74 mph, a hurricane becomes a hurricane, and at 111 mph it becomes a major hurricane.

The hurricane center said there were no watches, warnings or land threats related to Philip.

Given the conflicting data, forecasters described Philip as “very difficult” to predict at its expected intensity. But very little change in the strength of the storm is expected over the next three days. Philip is expected to move west-northwest in the coming days.

The Atlantic hurricane season began on June 1 and runs through November 30.

In late May, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted that there would be 12 to 17 named storms this year, which is “about normal” amount. On August 10, NOAA officials revised their estimate from 14 to 21 named storms.

There were 14 named storms last year after two extremely busy Atlantic hurricane seasons in which forecasters ran out of names and had to resort to backup lists. (A record 30 named storms occurred in 2020.)

This year an El Nino pattern is visible, which started in June. The intermittent climate phenomenon can have widespread effects on weather around the world, and it typically hinders the number of Atlantic hurricanes.

In the Atlantic, El Niño increases the amount of wind shear, or changes in the speed and direction of wind from the ocean or land surface into the atmosphere. Hurricanes require a calm environment to form, and the instability caused by rising wind shear makes those conditions less likely.

Additionally, high sea surface temperatures this year pose several threats, including the potential to supercharge hurricanes. That unusual confluence of factors has made storms more difficult to predict.

There is a consensus among scientists that hurricanes are becoming more powerful due to climate change. Although there may not be many named storms overall, the potential for major storms is increasing.

Climate change is also affecting the amount of rainfall from storms.

In a warming world, air can hold more moisture, meaning a named storm can hold more moisture and produce more rainfall, as Hurricane Harvey did in Texas in 2017, when some areas More than 40 inches of rain fell in less than 48 hours.

Researchers have also found that hurricanes have become slower over the past few decades, and persist over areas for longer periods of time.

When a storm slows down over water, it can absorb more moisture. When a storm slows down over land, it can drop more rain in one place. For example, in 2019, Hurricane Dorian slowed across the northwestern Bahamas, resulting in a total of 22.84 inches of rainfall in Hope Town during the storm.

Rebecca Carballo Contributed to the reporting.

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