Final weeks of historic hurricane season bring new storms


FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Just when you thought it should be safe to go back to the water, the record-setting tropics are going crazy. Again.

Tropical Storm Eta is parked off the western coast of Cuba, dumping rain. When it finally moves again, computer models and human forecasters are befuddled about where it will go and how strong it will be.

Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Theta — which formed overnight and broke a record as the 29th named Atlantic storm of the season — is chugging east toward Europe on the cusp of hurricane status. The last time there were two named storms churning at the same time this late in the year was in December 1887, Colorado State University hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach said.

But wait there’s more. A tropical wave moving across the Atlantic somehow survived the mid-November winds that usually decapitate storms. The system now has a 70% chance of becoming the 30th named storm. That’s Iota on your already filled scorecard. If it forms, it is heading generally toward the same region of Central America that was hit by Eta.

Never before have three named storms been twirling at the same time this late in the year, Klotzbach said. Hurricane records go back to 1851, but before the satellite era, some storms were likely missed.

“Someone didn’t give the tropics the memo that its mid-November. This map doesn’t look normal,” said University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy. “Usually by this time of year, the season is basically over. Now we’ve got the 28th, 29th and maybe 30th storm going on at the same time.”

Generally fewer than one storm forms in the Atlantic hurricane basin in November but not this year, said Mike Brennan, branch chief for hurricane specialists at the hurricane center.