Conditions will remain favorable for tropical storms and hurricanes to form over the Atlantic, Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico for several more weeks.
Including Tropical Storm Ophelia, there have been 15 tropical storms, nine hurricanes and five major hurricanes so far in the 2017 Atlantic season.
As warmth persists over much of the southern and eastern United States this month, so too will the potential for additional tropical storms and hurricanes to form and track near populated areas.
During most years, around this point in October, atmospheric conditions begin to change near North America that tend to inhibit tropical storm formation and/or keeps tropical storms away.
However, the overall atmospheric environment will remain favorable for tropical storm formation for weeks this year.
Tropical and subtropical waters are still warm and winds aloft are rather weak in the key development areas, according to AccuWeather Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski.
“I think there will be at least two more tropical storms, of which one or two can become a hurricane into December,” Kottlowski said.
“There is still a chance of one more major (Category 3) hurricane.”
This is not to say that all or any of these will strike land in the U.S., Caribbean or anywhere, but the risk is there.
Aside from an occasional mid-ocean storm, the typical tropical storm formation areas during the rest of October and November are farther west than during August and September.
Since most tropical storms form in the Caribbean, near Central America and the southern coast of the U.S., it is nearly impossible for such a storm to avoid hitting land or at least avoid causing indirect impact.
This year, an area of high pressure off the southeastern Atlantic coast will persist. A high pressure area is a large zone of sinking air that rotates clockwise. The flow around this high is what is helping to pump temperatures in the southern and eastern U.S. and provide an avenue for tropical systems to travel upon.
As of Wednesday morning, Oct. 11, 2017, Ophelia was churning over the open waters of the Atlantic. Ophelia may become the Atlantic’s next hurricane.
Ophelia was located over the central Atlantic and may pass close enough to the Azores to bring rough seas, rain and gusty winds to the islands this weekend.
In the short term, Ophelia isn’t the only area of concern in the Atlantic.
“We will be watching a non-tropical storm moving westward just north of the large islands in the Caribbean this week,” Kottlowski said.
“Sometimes storms like this can slowly become tropical in nature,” Kottlowski said.
The non-tropical storm has produced torrential downpours as far south as the Leeward Islands, the British and U.S. Virgin Island and Puerto Rico.
There have been isolated incidents of flash flooding, since much of the landscape has been demolished by Maria and Irma.
Debris littering streets and clogging drains led to flooding in San Juan, Puerto Rico, over the weekend as rain poured down. This occurred as residents grapple with the storm’s aftermath, and 40 percent of Puerto Ricans do not have drinkable water, according to CBS News.
The non-tropical storm with its showers and thunderstorms will drift across the Bahamas at midweek and Florida by the end of the week then into the Gulf of Mexico this weekend.
There have been destructive hurricanes during late October and November. These include Category 5 Hurricane Mitch (1998) and Category 2 Hurricane Sandy (2012).