Hurricane Beryl Forms in Atlantic Basin
July 6, 2018
The tropics in the Atlantic basin are heating up this week, as Hurricane Beryl has formed over 1000 miles east of The Lesser Antilles. There has been much buzz in the meteorological community of late regarding the abnormally cool waters in the Atlantic’s Main Development Region (MDR), but Beryl has managed to form in spite of cool waters across the area.
A couple major factors have aided the system’s formation over the past 24 hours. In early July, the Saharan Air Layer (SAL) is usually entrenched across the tropical Atlantic. The SAL is comprised of extremely dry air filled with dust, which is typically carried westward by easterly trade winds. This air can make it as far west as the United States, which happened this past weekend across portions of southeast Texas as skies turned brown from the dust entering the region. Thankfully for Beryl, it managed to form south of the SAL, so it has access to a relatively moist environment.
Wind shear across the tropical Atlantic is quite low at the moment, allowing thunderstorm activity to organize near the center of the low pressure system, which is critical to the development of tropical cyclones.
Beryl is a tiny storm, with a main circulation likely less than 75 miles in diameter. The intensity of these small storms is often difficult to forecast, which was made evident back in 2015 when Hurricane Danny rapidly intensified to a Category 3 storm in a similar location as Beryl. Beryl is not currently forecast to become as strong as Danny, but the system will bear watching over the next 24 hours to see if unexpected rapid intensification occurs.
Hurricane Beryl will pose no threat to the United States. As the storm moves into the eastern Caribbean Sea, strong wind shear will begin to displace thunderstorm activity to the east of the circulation center, eventually ripping the storm apart. Historically, 99% of Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) in the Atlantic Basin falls after the 4th of July holiday, so Beryl is just the start of the 2018 hurricane season.