Tropical Storm Henri Strengthens in the Atlantic

The storm, the eighth of the Atlantic hurricane season, joins Tropical Depression Fred and Tropical Storm Grace, which are also moving through the region.,

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Tropical Storm Henri, the latest of a trio of storms swirling in the Atlantic Ocean, had strengthened a little more by early Tuesday morning, meteorologists said.

The storm had formed on Monday off the East Coast of the United States, when most of the attention was on Tropical Depression Fred, which made landfall in the Florida Panhandle on Monday afternoon as a tropical storm, and Tropical Storm Grace, which came ashore in Haiti as a tropical depression, complicating search-and-rescue efforts after a powerful earthquake killed at least 1,300 people on Saturday morning.

Around 5 a.m. on Tuesday, Henri was 135 miles south southeast of Bermuda, where a tropical storm watch was in effect, with maximum sustained winds of 50 m.p.h., the National Hurricane Center said. The storm was moving west southwest slowly at 5 m.p.h.

The center of Henri was expected to pass well to the south of Bermuda late Tuesday and was forecast to gain additional strength over the next day or so.

While it is not uncommon for there to be several active weather systems at once during hurricane season, forecasters with the National Hurricane Center said, it is somewhat unusual to have three with tropical storm watches or warnings for land areas at the same time.

“It’s a busy period here,” Michael Brennan, the branch chief of the center’s hurricane specialist unit, said on Monday.

Even though Henri is far removed from the Eastern Seaboard, the center warned that it could still produce hazardous rip currents.

“The weather can be really nice where they are, but there can be dangerous surf conditions,” Dr. Brennan 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.

A major United Nations climate report released in August warned that nations have delayed curbing their fossil-fuel emissions for so long that they can 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 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.

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. In early August, in a mid-season update to the forecast, they continued to warn that this year’s hurricane season will be an above average one, suggesting a busy end to the season.

Matthew Rosencrans, of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 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. Henri is the eighth named storm of 2021.

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.

Derrick Bryson Taylor and Neil Vigdor contributed reporting.

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