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Gonzalo Could be First Atlantic Hurricane of the 2020 Season

Climate
Tropical Storm Gonzalo strengthened into a named storm on Wednesday, breaking the record for the earliest "G" storm of the season. NOAA


The National Hurricane Center (NHC) is tracking what could become the first Atlantic hurricane of the 2020 season.

Tropical Storm Gonzalo strengthened into a named storm on Wednesday, breaking the record for the earliest "G" storm of the season, CNN reported. NHC said it could strengthen into a hurricane later Thursday.


"Given the increased organization of the system and its small size, Gonzalo's likelihood of becoming a hurricane is rising. Small storms are prone to more significant fluctuations in intensity, both up and down," CNN meteorologist Taylor Ward said.

 

The storm is currently about 910 miles east of the Southern Windward Islands with sustained winds of 65 miles per hour, according to an 8 a.m. Atlantic Standard Time update from NHC. It is currently tracking west at around 12 miles per hour, but is expected to pick up speed and then turn west-northwest on Saturday.

Its center could approach the Windward Islands late Friday or Saturday, and a hurricane watch has been issued for Barbados, St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

In addition to wind, Gonzalo is expected to dump two to five inches of rain in Barbados and the Windward Islands.

"Rainfall in Barbados and the Windward Islands could lead to life-threatening flash floods," NHC warned.

Gonzalo seems to confirm predictions that 2020 will be an active hurricane season.

"The tropical Atlantic looks extremely conducive for an active season," Colorado State University meteorologist Philip Klotzbach told CNN.

The average seventh storm of the season occurs Sept. 16. The second earliest seventh storm was Gert on July 24, 2005, which holds the title for the busiest hurricane season on record.

 

Gonzalo isn't the only early storm for its place in the alphabet this season: Cristobal, Danielle, Edouard and Fay were all the earliest of their letters on record, the Associated Press pointed out.

Gonzalo is slightly different from this season's other early storms since it is the first to emerge from the "main development region" between Africa and the Lesser Antilles, Space Coast Daily reported. It is a region known for developing dangerous storms.

However, the storm activity in the Atlantic this season is partly driven by warmer-than-normal ocean temperatures, CBS News explained. This is also the case for the main development region, which typically does not start spawning storms until early- to mid-August.

"Not to beat a dead horse but, the Atlantic Main Development Region is exceptionally warm atm," tweeted Eric Webb, a graduate student at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

 

The climate crisis has not been shown to make hurricanes more common, but it does lead to warmer water temperatures that fuel wetter, more intense storms.

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