Trouble in Paradise: Could Tropical Storm Sandy be in the Works?

by Sarah Dillingham
CNN Meteorologist

“I’m not dead yet!”  No, this isn’t a Monty Python spoof, but the Tropics are certainly not dead yet as Tropical Depression 18 developed earlier today, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC).  At 1:00 pm EDT winds in TD-18 were sustained at 30 mph, and movement was very slow off to the southwest at 5 mph.  If this depression reaches tropical storm status it will be Sandy, the 18th named storm of the Atlantic Hurricane Season.

Forecast models show this storm heading off to the north and east over the next several days, and most of them seem to develop this system into a tropical storm over the next 24-36 hours.  Typically, storms that originate in this region during the month of October will travel over the Caribbean before heading out into the Atlantic Ocean, towards Bermuda.  To obtain better data on this tropical disturbance, hurricane hunters are heading to the area to investigate it further.

So how busy has the season been?  Recall the NHC’s early August forecast was updated to 12-17 named storms in the Atlantic Basin, with 5-8 becoming hurricanes, and 2-3 being major hurricanes.  So far this season, there have been 17 named storms, 9 of which became hurricanes, and only 1 becoming a major hurricane, Hurricane Michael, with winds sustained at or above 111 mph.  This has obviously been an above normal season thus far, and will go down in the record books as one of the busier seasons in recent years.  Although we are fairly late in the Atlantic Hurricane Season, which lasts from June 1 – November 30, it is not uncommon to see tropical cyclones develop during the month of October.  According to the NHC, we typically see a secondary peak in tropical cyclone development around mid-October, which is evident in the recent development of Tropical Storm Patty and Hurricane Rafael.

From 1992-2011, there have been 49 named tropical cyclones develop within the month of October, and notable storms have made landfall on the U.S. coastlines during the month.  One storm in particular was Hurricane Opal on October 4, 1995 which attained Category 4 Hurricane status in the Gulf of Mexico and ultimately made landfall near Pensacola Beach, FL as a Category 3 hurricane.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNWeather for the link to our CNN Hurricane Tracker and to receive the latest #Tropical updates.

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