Tropical Storm Fred Nears Dominican Republic

The storm is expected to move over Cuba and head northwest into the Gulf of Mexico, near Florida.,

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Tropical Storm Fred Nears Dominican Republic

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By The New York Times

Published Aug. 10, 2021Updated Aug. 11, 2021, 5:20 a.m. ET

Tropical Storm Fred, which formed late Tuesday night as the sixth named storm of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season, was expected to bring heavy rain to the Dominican Republic on Wednesday morning and to parts of Haiti, Turks and Caicos, and the southeastern Bahamas later in the day.

In a 5 a.m. update, the National Hurricane Center lifted a tropical storm warning for the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, which had seen rain and wind since Tuesday as the storm moved northwest toward the Gulf of Mexico. The hurricane center warned of up to four inches of rain in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, and said some areas could see up to six inches, leading to flash flooding.

It was about 115 miles east-southeast of Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic, the hurricane center said, with maximum sustained wind speeds of about 40 miles per hour.

A tropical storm warning was in effect on Wednesday for the Dominican Republic. A tropical storm watch was in effect for parts of Haiti, the Turks and Caicos Islands, and the southeastern Bahamas, where rainfall forecasts were slightly lower.

The storm was expected to move over Cuba by Friday, and head northwest into the Gulf of Mexico, near Florida, according to a forecast by the hurricane center.

The storm could pose wind and rainfall threats to Florida by Friday, but forecast details were still unclear, the hurricane center said.

How Do Hurricanes Form?

John SchwartzReporting on the climate

How Do Hurricanes Form?

John SchwartzReporting on the climate

Hoboken, N.J., after Elsa.Eduardo Munoz/Reuters

Hurricane season is well underway; the fifth named storm, Elsa, hit Florida and caused flooding into the Northeast in early July.

Where do they come from? ->

How Do Hurricanes Form?

John SchwartzReporting on the climate

Atlantic hurricanes get their start in Africa. Wind blowing westward off of the coast hits warm ocean water and under the right conditions, storms can form.

The difference in temperature between the air and the sea powers storms.

Inside the storm moisture evaporates and rises, drawing in new air that swirls in behind it.

The rising moisture cools and forms storm clouds, releasing heat. Nudged by Earth’s rotation, the system spins faster and faster.

How Do Hurricanes Form?

John SchwartzReporting on the climate

Lake Charles, La.William Widmer for The New York Times

If wind shear doesn’t disrupt it, the storm will grow and move where the winds steer it. As it wanders to the west, it may harmlessly drift back out to sea or hit land, bringing disaster.

How Do Hurricanes Form?

John SchwartzReporting on the climate

When wind speeds hit 39 miles per hour it’s a tropical storm. At 74 mph, a hurricane. The strongest is Category 5, with winds over 157 mph.

Hurricanes have always occurred so scientists don’t say that climate change is “causing” storms. But the warming planet is affecting them in several ways.

How Do Hurricanes Form?

John SchwartzReporting on the climate

How? Warmer ocean waters give energy to storms, and climate change appears to be making strong Atlantic hurricanes even stronger than they otherwise might be.

A warmer atmosphere can hold more moisture, so storms are becoming rainier; many also move more slowly than before, and dump more rain.

Higher sea levels also make storm surge worse. Weather experts warn that the biggest risk of most hurricanes is water, not wind.

How Do Hurricanes Form?

John SchwartzReporting on the climate

NOAA

Last year’s hurricane season was a record breaker on many levels. Forecasters said in May and again in August that 2021 shouldn’t be as active, but a single storm making landfall can wreak tremendous destruction.

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The links between hurricanes and climate change are becoming more apparent. A warming planet can expect to see stronger hurricanes over time, and a higher incidence of the most powerful storms — though the overall number of storms could drop because factors like stronger wind shear could keep weaker storms from forming.

Hurricanes are also becoming wetter because of more water vapor in the warmer atmosphere; scientists have suggested storms like Hurricane Harvey in 2017 produced far more rain than they would have without the human effects on climate. Also, rising sea levels are contributing to higher storm surge — the most destructive element of tropical cyclones.

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Forecast track on Monday for what would become Tropical Storm Fred. Credit…NOAA/NWS/NHC

A major United Nations climate report released Monday warned that nations had delayed curbing their fossil-fuel emissions for so long that they could no longer stop global warming from intensifying over the next 30 years, leading to more frequent life-threatening heat waves and severe droughts. Tropical cyclones have most likely become more intense over the past 40 years, the report said, a shift that cannot be explained by natural variability alone.

Ana became the first named storm of the season on May 23, making this the seventh year in a row that a named storm developed in the Atlantic before the official start of the season on June 1.

The most recent named storm in the Atlantic was Hurricane Elsa, in early July. Elsa cut through Cuba and then Florida, eventually making its way into New York City, where heavy rainfall from the storm flooded subway stations and roadways.

In May, scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecast that there would be 13 to 20 named storms this year, six to 10 of which would be hurricanes, and three to five major hurricanes of Category 3 or higher in the Atlantic. Last week, in a midseason update to the forecast, they continued to warn that this year’s hurricane season would be an above average one, suggesting a busy end to the season.

Matthew Rosencrans, of NOAA, said that an updated forecast suggested that there would be 15 to 21 named storms, including seven to 10 hurricanes, by the end of the season on Nov. 30.

Last year, there were 30 named storms, including six major hurricanes, forcing meteorologists to exhaust the alphabet for the second time and move to using Greek letters.

It was the highest number of storms on record, surpassing the 28 from 2005, and included the second-highest number of hurricanes on record.

Jesus Jimenez contributed reporting.

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