Tropical Storm Paulette Forecast To Become A Hurricane Tonight

Tropical Storm Paulette is forecast to become a powerful hurricane as it nears Bermuda on Sunday through Monday. Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion.

This is the seventeenth tropical cyclone of the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season and the earliest 16th named storm in Atlantic history. The previous record was Philippe, which formed on September 17th, 2005.

This tropical cyclone is not forecast to directly impact Trinidad, Tobago, or the Lesser Antilles. However, Paulette has produced long-period swells that are propagating across the region, with adverse impacts possible across the Leewards ongoing, and high surf across parts of the Windwards.

List of names for the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season. The next named tropical cyclone will be called Teddy.
List of names for the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season. The next named tropical cyclone will be called Teddy.

Paulette’s influence on our winds and moisture will wane over the next 24 hours, as our wind regime returns to mostly easterly winds, though the ITCZ remains present.

At 5:00 PM AST, the center of Tropical Storm Paulette was located near latitude 28.4 North, longitude 58.5 West. Paulette is moving toward the northwest near 15 mph (24 km/h). A northwest or west-northwest motion is expected through Sunday night. A turn toward the north with a decrease in forward speed is forecast on Monday, followed by a northeastward motion Monday night and Tuesday. On the forecast track, the center of Paulette will move near or over Bermuda Monday morning.

Maximum sustained winds are near 70 mph (110 km/h) with higher gusts. Strengthening is forecast, and Paulette is expected to become a hurricane tonight. Paulette is expected to be a dangerous hurricane when it is near Bermuda Sunday night and Monday.

Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 195 miles (315 km) from the center. The estimated minimum central pressure is 987 millibars.

Tropical Storm Paulette Forecast Track as of 5:00 PM AST Saturday 12th September 2020. (National Hurricane Center)
Tropical Storm Paulette Forecast Track as of 5:00 PM AST Saturday 12th September 2020. (National Hurricane Center)

Watches & Warnings

Tropical Storm Paulette Watches and Warnings as of 5:00 PM AST Saturday 12th September 2020. (National Hurricane Center)
Tropical Storm Paulette Watches and Warnings as of 5:00 PM AST Saturday 12th September 2020. (National Hurricane Center)

A Hurricane Warning is in effect for:

  • Bermuda

A Hurricane Warning means that hurricane conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area. A warning is typically issued 36 hours before the anticipated first occurrence of tropical-storm-force winds, conditions that make outside preparations difficult or dangerous. Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion.

Hazards Affecting Land

Tropical Storm Paulette probabilities for tropical-storm-force winds as of 5:00 PM AST Saturday 12th September 2020, as well as the most likely time of arrival of tropical-storm-force winds. (National Hurricane Center)
Tropical Storm Paulette probabilities for tropical-storm-force winds as of 5:00 PM AST Saturday 12th September 2020, as well as the most likely time of arrival of tropical-storm-force winds. (National Hurricane Center)

WIND: Hurricane conditions are expected to reach Bermuda by Sunday night or early Monday. Winds are expected to first reach tropical storm strength by late Sunday, making outside preparations difficult or dangerous. Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion.

STORM SURGE: A dangerous storm surge is expected to produce significant coastal flooding on Bermuda in areas of onshore winds. Near the coast, the surge will be accompanied by large and destructive waves.

RAIN: Paulette is expected to bring periods of heavy rain to Bermuda Sunday through Monday, with rainfall accumulations of 3 to 6 inches likely.

SURF: Swells generated by Paulette are affecting portions of the Leeward Islands, the Greater Antilles, the Bahamas, and Bermuda and will continue to spread westward to the east coast of the United States over the next day or two. These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions. Please consult products from your local weather office.

High surf advisory in effect for Antigua, Barbuda, Anguilla, Montserrat, St Kitts, Nevis, and the British Virgin Islands. For T&T, while long-period swells are forecast into the first half of Sunday, mainly affecting Northern and Eastern Coasts, adverse impacts are not anticipated at this time.

This system is of no direct threat to the Windward Islands, including Trinidad and Tobago.

Tropical Storm Paulette Forecast Discussion

Tropical Storm Paulette in the Central Atlantic Ocean, with Bermuda to its northwest (Weathernerds)
Tropical Storm Paulette in the Central Atlantic Ocean, with Bermuda to its northwest (Weathernerds)

Convective cloud tops have cooled again as deep convection has redeveloped since this morning, with an eye-like feature noted in visible satellite imagery. Since the storm is still being affected by 20-25 kt of southerly shear, it is assumed that the low-level center is still displaced to the south of this feature a bit. But it won’t be surprising if the low- and mid-level centers become collocated soon as the shear drops significantly during the next 6-12 hours. The initial intensity remains 60 kt, and we should get a much better handle on Paulette’s maximum winds and structure once the first Air Force Hurricane Hunter aircraft reaches the storm this evening.

The motion remains northwestward (305/13 kt) due to a break in the subtropical ridge to the north-northeast of Paulette. A mid-tropospheric high currently centered near the U.S. Mid-Atlantic coast is expected to slide eastward to the north of Paulette during the next 24 hours, which should cause the cyclone to turn west-northwestward tonight. Once the high becomes established over the central Atlantic, Paulette is expected to recurve around its western periphery toward a longwave trough over the northeastern United States Sunday night through Monday night. On days 3 through 5 of the forecast period, Paulette should be accelerating northeastward toward the north Atlantic, embedded in the mid-latitude westerlies. The new NHC track forecast is embedded among the very tightly clustered guidance envelope, and no significant changes were made from the morning forecast.

As stated above, deep-layer shear is expected to be 10 kt or less between 12 and 48 hours. While ocean waters are plenty warm at 28-29 degrees Celsius, the main possible limiting factor for strengthening would be mid-level dry air, with the SHIPS model diagnosing ambient relative humidities of 30-40 percent for the next couple of days. But, if the shear remains low enough, that dry air is unlikely to infiltrate the circulation, and Paulette is therefore expected to intensify during the next 2-3 days. The NHC intensity forecast is close to the SHIPS, HCCA, and HWRF solutions, showing a peak intensity just under the major hurricane threshold in 2-3 days, when Paulette should be starting to move away from Bermuda.

Key messages for Tropical Storm Paulette (National Hurricane Center)
Key messages for Tropical Storm Paulette (National Hurricane Center)

Key Messages:

  1. Paulette is expected to approach Bermuda as a hurricane on Sunday and be near the island Sunday night and Monday. A prolonged period of strong winds, storm surge, and heavy rainfall is expected on Bermuda beginning Sunday evening, and a hurricane warning is in effect for the island. Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion.
  2. Swells produced by Paulette are affecting portions of the Leeward Islands, the Greater Antilles, the Bahamas, and Bermuda, and are expected to spread westward to the east coast of the United States during the next day or two. These swells could cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.

Forecast Discussion by Forecaster Berg from the NHC.

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