Tropical Storm Paulette To Near Bermuda At Hurricane Strength

Tropical Storm Paulette has now overcome the unfavorable wind shear affecting the tropical cyclone and gradual strengthening is forecast. Paulette is now forecast to near Bermuda as a powerful hurricane Sunday night through Monday.

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 Sally.

A trough extending southward from its large circulation has degraded the weak pressure gradient across T&T and the Lesser Antilles. Winds are now from the south, at times from the southwest across T&T.

Friday night into Saturday, strong thunderstorms off the Northern Coast of Venezuela will move offshore toward Trinidad, bringing hazardous seas in the Gulf of Paria and adverse weather across Trinidad on Saturday due to southerly winds.

At 5:00 PM AST, the center of Tropical Storm Paulette was located near latitude 24.6 North, longitude 53.7 West. Paulette is moving toward the northwest near 13 mph (20 km/h). A motion toward the northwest or west-northwest is expected through Sunday night, followed by a sharp turn toward the north by late Monday. On the forecast track, the center of Paulette should be near Bermuda Sunday night and Monday.

Maximum sustained winds are near 65 mph (100 km/h) with higher gusts. Strengthening is forecast, and Paulette is expected to become a hurricane Saturday or Saturday night. Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 205 miles (335 km) from the center. The estimated minimum central pressure is 989 millibars.

Tropical Storm Paulette Forecast Track as of 5:00 PM AST Friday 11th September 2020. (National Hurricane Center)
Tropical Storm Paulette Forecast Track as of 5:00 PM AST Friday 11th September 2020. (National Hurricane Center)

Watches & Warnings

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

There are no coastal watches or warnings in effect.

Interests in Bermuda should monitor the progress of Paulette. A hurricane watch could be required for the island tonight or early Saturday.

Hazards Affecting Land

Tropical Storm Paulette probabilities for tropical-storm-force winds as of 5:00 PM AST Friday 11th 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 Friday 11th September 2020, as well as the most likely time of arrival of tropical-storm-force winds. (National Hurricane Center)

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

A high surf advisory is in effect for Montserrat, St Kitts, and Nevis. A High Surf Warning is in effect for Antigua, Barbuda, Anguilla, and the British Virgin Islands. For T&T, while long-period swells are forecast Friday into Saturday, 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)

Paulette inconveniently fell in a gap between all three ASCAT passes this morning, so we haven’t gotten any better handle on the cyclone’s intensity since last evening’s pass. However, Dvorak classifications have not budged, so maintaining the initial intensity of 55 kt seems sound. In addition, although an AMSR microwave pass from around 17 UTC still showed the system being sheared, it also revealed a ragged mid-level eye feature. Since the shear is expected to abate to less than 10 kt by 48 hours, Paulette is likely to intensify, possibly significantly so, and it is now forecast to become a hurricane on Saturday. The intensification trend is expected to continue through day 4, and Paulette has the potential to be a dangerous hurricane when it makes its closest approach to Bermuda on Monday. Paulette’s forecast peak intensity (on day 4) has been nudged up slightly, lying near the SHIPS and HCCA guidance, but still a little below the latest HWRF simulation.

Paulette has picked up some speed and is now moving toward the northwest (310 degrees) at 11 kt. The track forecast reasoning has not changed since this morning. Paulette should maintain a motion toward the northwest or west-northwest during the next 2 to 3 days to the south of a weakening subtropical ridge. By day 3, a longwave trough is forecast to move across the northeastern United States, eroding the ridge eastward, and causing Paulette to recurve sharply toward the north and northeast in the vicinity of Bermuda on Monday. After that time, Paulette is forecast to become embedded in the mid-latitude flow and accelerate northeastward toward the north Atlantic. The spread in the track guidance has continued to tighten up, which increases the confidence in the official track forecast. The updated forecast has been shifted slightly westward around the time that Paulette will be near Bermuda, and it is embedded among the usually-reliable GFS, ECMWF, and HCCA model solutions.

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 during the next couple of days and make its closest approach to the island on Monday. A prolonged period of strong winds, storm surge, and heavy rainfall on Bermuda beginning Sunday night is becoming more likely, and a hurricane watch could be required for the island tonight or early Saturday.
  2. Swells produced by Paulette are affecting portions of the Leeward Islands and will continue to spread westward to the Greater Antilles, the Bahamas, Bermuda, and the southeastern United States into the weekend. These swells could cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.

Forecast Discussion by Forecaster Berg from the NHC.

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