Weather Nerd

Humberto races against clock and record book, but poses no threat to land

Remember what I said on Thursday, near the end of my last post, about a then-hypothetical tropical wave “91L” near Africa, which could earn the name “Humberto” this week? Well, it has happened. 91L formed, was designated as Tropical Depression 9 yesterday, and then, this morning, became Tropical Storm Humberto. Now, it is expected to become the season’s first hurricane — and perhaps, if some of the computer models are to believed, a major hurricane soon afterward:

Humberto is expected to be a “fish” storm, posing no threat to land, but it’s a notable meteorological curiosity because of its timing. The all-time record for the latest date of Atlantic basin hurricane formation in the satellite era was set in 2002, when Gustav became a hurricane on September 11. More specifically, Gustav was declared a hurricane at 11:00 AM Eastern Time on 9/11/2002 (though the official NHC postmortem says it actually “became [a] hurricane just before 1200 UTC,” which is 8:00 AM Eastern). Wednesday of this week is September 11, 2013, and Humberto is forecast to become a hurricane sometime right around Wednesday morning. So it’s a race against the clock. Will Humberto 2013 “beat” Gustav 2002 to hurricane status, or will 2013 break the record for the season with the latest hurricane formation? Weather nerds will be watching closely!

Because it’s no threat to land, I won’t be posting regular updates on Humberto here. But I’ll be tweeting about it at @brendanloy, and also following the rest of the Atlantic tropics, including the potential for development in the southwestern Gulf of Mexico (proto-“Ingrid”?) this weekend or thereabouts. You can also keep abreast of the latest in the tropics by following Amy Sweezey’s “Wx Tweeps” Twitter list.

P.S. You probably remember the name “Gustav” from the 2008 hurricane that killed 153 people, mostly in the Caribbean; caused $4.3 billion of damage in Louisiana & environs; triggered a massive evacuation and a silly statement by Ray Nagin about the “Mother of All Storms”; and cancelled Day 1 of the 2008 Republican National Convention. The name “Gustav” was retired after 2008, but previously, it had been in the sextennial storm name rotation, so 2002’s Gustav, which brushed North Carolina and hit Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, was the penultimate “Gustav” in the Atlantic. There were also “Gustavs” in 1996, 1990 and 1984. “Gustav” will be replaced by “Gonzalo” in 2014.