Tropical Storm Henri Is Poised to Become a Hurricane

The storm, the eighth of the Atlantic hurricane season, is expected to turn on a path toward the Northeast Coast.,

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Tropical Storm Henri Is Poised to Become a Hurricane

Tropical Storm Henri is the eighth named storm of the 2021 hurricane season.Credit…NOAA

By The New York Times

Published Aug. 16, 2021Updated Aug. 19, 2021, 6:36 a.m. ET

Tropical Storm Henri, the latest of a trio of storms that recently formed in the Atlantic Ocean, is expected to strengthen into a hurricane by Friday and could reach the Northeast coast by Sunday, meteorologists said on Wednesday.

The storm 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 Hurricane 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 — before making landfall again in Mexico on Thursday.

As of 11 p.m. on Wednesday, Henri was 280 miles southwest of Bermuda, where a tropical storm watch that had been in effect on Tuesday was lifted. The storm was moving west at nine miles per hour, with maximum sustained winds of 70 m.p.h., the National Hurricane Center said.

Henri was expected to keep moving west until Friday, when forecasters said that they expected it to turn north. An updated map of its possible track on Wednesday night showed that Henri could reach parts of Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts by Sunday or Monday.

“The forecast track of Henri remains near the northeast coast of the U.S. this weekend and early next week, and the risks of storm surge, wind, and rain impacts in portions of the northeastern U.S. and Atlantic Canada remains a distinct possibility,” center said in an update.

How to Decode Hurricane Season Terms

Karen Zraick and Christina CaronReporting on the weather ?

How to Decode Hurricane Season Terms

Karen Zraick and Christina CaronReporting on the weather ?

Emily Kask for The New York Times

What is “landfall”? And what are you truly facing when you’re in the eye of the storm?

During hurricane season, news coverage and forecasts can include a host of confusing terms. Let’s take a look at what they mean ->

How to Decode Hurricane Season Terms

Karen Zraick and Christina CaronReporting on the weather ?

You may read about hurricanes, typhoons or cyclones. So what’s the difference? Location.

“Hurricane” is largely used in the North Atlantic and Northeast Pacific; “typhoon,” in the Northwest Pacific; and “cyclone” in the South Pacific and Indian Ocean.

The Atlantic season, when hurricanes and tropical storms are most likely to hit the U.S., runs from June 1 to Nov. 30.

How to Decode Hurricane Season Terms

Karen Zraick and Christina CaronReporting on the weather ?

NOAA

Here’s what all these storms have in common: They’re low-pressure circular systems that form over warm waters. A system becomes a tropical storm when its winds exceed 39 miles an hour. At 74 miles an hour, it’s a hurricane.

How to Decode Hurricane Season Terms

Karen Zraick and Christina CaronReporting on the weather ?

Forecasters regularly talk about parts of the storm like the eye, the eyewall and the wall cloud:

The eye of a storm is the circular area of relatively light winds, even shining sun, at its center. Conditions may be calm within the eye.

But wrapped around it is the eyewall, a ring of cumulonimbus clouds also known as a wall cloud. It contains the strongest winds of a hurricane.

How to Decode Hurricane Season Terms

Karen Zraick and Christina CaronReporting on the weather ?

Tamir Kalifa for The New York Times

Perhaps counterintuitively, a storm doesn’t make landfall when its outer edge meets land.

Instead, landfall is when the eye crosses the shoreline.

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Even though there were no warnings or watches associated with Henri as of Wednesday night, the Hurricane Center said that it could produce hazardous rip currents.

“Swells are expected to increase across much of the east coast of the U.S. and Atlantic Canada later this week and this weekend,” the center said on Wednesday. “These swells could cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.”

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.

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 this month 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 midseason 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, Neil Vigdor and Jesus Jimenez contributed reporting.

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