Following a particularly active 2017 hurricane season, the first named subtropical storm of 2018 is forming before this season has even started.
The National Hurricane Center began monitoring an apparent disturbance in the Gulf of Mexico in recent days, deciding this week that the system has the markings of a subtropical storm.
It was situated near the Yucatan Peninsula as of Friday and is expected to move upward into the Gulf Coast throughout Memorial Day weekend.
Experts warn that harsh weather could be in the cards for residents of Louisiana and Florida by Monday. Though forecasts do not include destructive winds, those in Subtropical Storm Alberto’s path should brace for a downpour of rain.
Aside from potentially hampered holiday plans, experts say the early storm could cause disruptions in the energy production, especially if oil companies are forced to evacuate exploration teams working offshore.
— National Hurricane Center (@NHC_Atlantic) May 25, 2018
Despite the storm’s formation before the traditional June 1 beginning of hurricane season, meteorologists say that factor alone does not suggest this year will be as devastating as 2017.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released a forecast based on satellite and computer models that indicates a less active season this year.
Nevertheless, experts advise there will likely be a higher than usual number of named storms.
Forecasts suggest a 70 percent chance that between 10 and 16 storms with winds at least 39 mph will form this season. Of that number, between five and nine are expected to grow into hurricanes with wind speeds topping 74 mph.
Major hurricanes, defined as those with wind speeds higher than 111 mph, could account for between one and four of this year’s storms.
U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, whose agency oversees the NOAA, recently emphasized the importance of accurate storm models, especially in the wake of last year’s destructive season.
“With the advances made in hardware and computing over the course of the last year, the ability of NOAA scientists to both predict the path of storms and warn Americans who may find themselves in harm’s way is unprecedented,” he said.
Those technological advances give forecasters another tool to offer advanced notice of storm formation and growth.
That added preparation time is critical in the days leading up to landfall, according to acting Federal Emergency Management Agency Deputy Administrator Daniel Kaniewski.
“Preparing ahead of a disaster is the responsibility of all levels of government, the private sector and the public,” he said. “It only takes one storm to devastate a community so now is the time to prepare. Do you have adequate insurance, including flood insurance? Does your family have a communication and evacuation plan? Stay tuned to your local news and download the FEMA app to get alerts, and make sure you heed any warnings issued by local officials.”
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.