(NJ.com) — The already busy, record-breaking Atlantic hurricane season has gone into hyperactive mode, with Tropical Storms Paulette and Rene continuing to spin, a tropical depression near Florida on the verge of strengthening into a named storm, and three other tropical disturbances brewing.
Forecasters say the tropical depression that formed near South Florida on Friday, lashing the region with heavy rain, will likely turn into a tropical storm by early Sunday. If that happens, the storm will be named Sally and would become one of the earliest “S” storms on record.
It also would mean three named storms would be actively spinning in the Atlantic hurricane basin at the same time, something that is uncommon but does happen on occasion.
UPDATE (2:15 p.m. Saturday): The tropical depression near Florida has been upgraded to Tropical Storm Sally, with maximum sustained winds now blowing at 40 mph. A map showing the storm’s latest forecast track is posted below.
Since the modern satellite era began in the 1960s, there have been six years in which four named storms — hurricanes or tropical storms — were spinning in the Atlantic basin simultaneously, according to Phil Klotzbach, a meteorologist and hurricane expert at Colorado State University. This happened in 1971, 1995, 1998, 2004, 2008 and 2018.
AccuWeather says the most unusual case in modern times was in late September 1998, when four hurricanes — Georges, Ivan, Jeanne and Karl — were swirling in the Atlantic at the same time. There are older records showing four Atlantic hurricanes spinning on Aug. 22, 1893, with one slamming into Georgia and South Carolina and killing as many as 1,000 to 2,000 people.
Status of the current storms
Here’s a look at the National Hurricane Center’s latest forecast maps for Tropical Storm Paulette, Tropical Storm Rene and Tropical Depression 19 (now named Tropical Storm Sally).
Update (11:30 a.m. Saturday): Tropical Storm Rene has been downgraded to a tropical depression, with its top sustained winds now blowing at 35 mph, with some higher gusts. A tropical storm has sustained winds of 39 mph to 73 mph.