Hurricane Ophelia (2017)

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Hurricane Ophelia
Category 3 major hurricane (SSHWS/NWS)
Ophelia 2017-10-14 1454Z.jpg
Hurricane Ophelia at peak intensity south of the Azores on 14 October
Formed9 October 2017
Dissipated18 October 2017
( Extratropical after 16 October)
Highest winds 1-minute sustained:115 mph (185 km/h)
Lowest pressure959 mbar (hPa); 28.32 inHg
Fatalities3 direct, [1] 3 indirect
Damage> $87.7 million (2017 USD)
Areas affected Azores, Portugal, Spain, France, Ireland, United Kingdom, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, and Russia
Part of the 2017 Atlantic hurricane and
2017–18 European windstorm seasons

Hurricane Ophelia (known as Storm Ophelia in Ireland and the United Kingdom while extratropical) was regarded as the worst storm to affect Ireland in 50 years, and was also the easternmost Atlantic major hurricane [nb 1] on record. The tenth and final consecutive hurricane and the sixth major hurricane of the very active 2017 Atlantic hurricane season, Ophelia had non-tropical origins from a decaying cold front on 6 October. Located within a favorable environment, the storm steadily strengthened over the next two days, drifting north and then southeastwards before becoming a hurricane on 11 October. After becoming a Category 2 hurricane and fluctuating in intensity for a day, Ophelia intensified into a major hurricane on 14 October south of the Azores, brushing the archipelago with high winds and heavy rainfall. Shortly after achieving peak intensity, Ophelia began weakening as it accelerated over progressively colder waters to its northeast towards Ireland and Great Britain. Completing an extratropical transition early on 16 October, Ophelia became the second storm of the 2017–18 European windstorm season. Early on 17 October, the cyclone crossed the North Sea and struck western Norway, with wind gusts up to 70 kilometres per hour (43 mph) in Rogaland county, before weakening during the evening of 17 October. The system then moved across Scandinavia before dissipating over Russia.

Republic of Ireland Country in Europe, occupying 5/6 of the island of Ireland

Ireland, also known as the Republic of Ireland, is a country in north-western Europe occupying 26 of 32 counties of the island of Ireland. The capital and largest city is Dublin, which is located on the eastern side of the island. Around a third of the country's population of 4.8 million people resides in the greater Dublin area. The sovereign state shares its only land border with Northern Ireland, a part of the United Kingdom. It is otherwise surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the Celtic Sea to the south, St George's Channel to the south-east, and the Irish Sea to the east. It is a unitary, parliamentary republic. The legislature, the Oireachtas, consists of a lower house, Dáil Éireann, an upper house, Seanad Éireann, and an elected President who serves as the largely ceremonial head of state, but with some important powers and duties. The head of government is the Taoiseach, who is elected by the Dáil and appointed by the President; the Taoiseach in turn appoints other government ministers.

United Kingdom Country in Europe

The United Kingdom (UK), officially the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and sometimes referred to as Britain, is a sovereign country located off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland, and many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state, the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world. The Irish Sea lies between Great Britain and Ireland. With an area of 242,500 square kilometres (93,600 sq mi), the United Kingdom is the 78th-largest sovereign state in the world. It is also the 22nd-most populous country, with an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017.

Extratropical cyclone type of cyclone

Extratropical cyclones, sometimes called mid-latitude cyclones or wave cyclones, are low-pressure areas which, along with the anticyclones of high-pressure areas, drive the weather over much of the Earth. Extratropical cyclones are capable of producing anything from cloudiness and mild showers to heavy gales, thunderstorms, blizzards, and tornadoes. These types of cyclones are defined as large scale (synoptic) low pressure weather systems that occur in the middle latitudes of the Earth. In contrast with tropical cyclones, extratropical cyclones produce rapid changes in temperature and dew point along broad lines, called weather fronts, about the center of the cyclone.

Contents

Three deaths can be directly attributed to Ophelia, all of which occurred in Ireland. Total losses from the storm were less than initially feared, with a minimum estimate of total insured losses across Ireland and the United Kingdom of US$87.7 million.

Meteorological history

Map plotting the track and the intensity of the storm, according to the Saffir-Simpson scale Ophelia 2017 track.png
Map plotting the track and the intensity of the storm, according to the Saffir–Simpson scale

On 3 October, a broad low-pressure area had formed along a stationary front about 460 mi (740 km) west of the Azores. The low meandered over the north Atlantic for days. On 6 October, a large wind field had formed associated with the low. The low only developed shallow, weak convection, along with a long, curved cloud band, and a cold-core center—typical characteristics of an extratropical low. [3] The system began to acquire subtropical characteristics on the next day, benefits from warm sea surface temperature of 81 °F (27 °C), thus the National Hurricane Center (NHC) noted for a high chance of tropical cyclogenesis. [4] Although the system lost some of its organization due to dry mid-level air, [5] it managed to develop gale-force winds and a well-defined center. [6] Deep convection continued to develop near the center early on 9 October, [7] and the NHC classified the system as Tropical Stormat Ophelia at 06:00 UTC, about 875 mi (1,410 km) west-southwest of the Azores. [3]

A low-pressure area, low, depression or cyclone is a region on the topographic map where the atmospheric pressure is lower than that of surrounding locations. Low-pressure systems form under areas of wind divergence that occur in the upper levels of the troposphere. The formation process of a low-pressure area is known as cyclogenesis. Within the field of meteorology, atmospheric divergence aloft occurs in two areas. The first area is on the east side of upper troughs, which form half of a Rossby wave within the Westerlies. A second area of wind divergence aloft occurs ahead of embedded shortwave troughs, which are of smaller wavelength. Diverging winds aloft ahead of these troughs cause atmospheric lift within the troposphere below, which lowers surface pressures as upward motion partially counteracts the force of gravity.

A stationary front is a pair of air masses, neither of which is strong enough to replace the other. On a weather map, this is shown by an inter-playing series of blue spikes pointing one direction and red domes pointing the other. They tend to remain essentially in the same area for extended periods of time, and waves sometimes propagate along the frontal boundary.

Azores Portuguese archipelago in the North Atlantic Ocean

The Azores, officially the Autonomous Region of the Azores, is one of the two autonomous regions of Portugal. It is an archipelago composed of nine volcanic islands in the North Atlantic Ocean about 1,360 km (850 mi) west of continental Portugal, about 1,643 km (1,021 mi) west of Lisbon, in continental Portugal, about 1,507 km (936 mi) northwest of Morocco, and about 1,925 km (1,196 mi) southeast of Newfoundland, Canada.

Hurricane Ophelia near its initial peak intensity on 12 October Ophelia 2017-10-12 1530Z.jpg
Hurricane Ophelia near its initial peak intensity on 12 October

Despite moving over marginally warm waters of 79.7 °F (26.5 °C), the effects of cold air temperatures aloft and decreasing wind shear allowed Ophelia to gradually strengthen. At the same time, Ophelia drifted several hundred miles southwest of the Azores due to the cut off from mid-latitude westerlies. [8] In addition, the large temperature contrast between the unusually-warm ocean surface and the extremely cold temperatures in the upper atmosphere provided instability for Ophelia's thunderstorms, which allowed the storm to continue strengthening, despite marginally warm ocean temperatures. [3] [9] A slight degradation of the structure of the storm resulted in some weakening early on 11 October, [10] but this was short-lived as deep convection wrapped around the entire storm. [11] After developed a ragged eye, [12] the NHC upgraded Ophelia to a hurricane at 18:00 UTC about 760 mi (1,225 km) south of the Azores. [3] Upon the upgrade, Ophelia becoming the record-tying tenth consecutive hurricane to form during the 2017 hurricane season; this was the fourth such occurrence after 1878, 1886, and 1893 seasons. [13] [nb 2] Afterwards, Ophelia steadily intensified as it became nearly stationary, intensifying to a Category 2 hurricane late on 12 October, as the eye became better defined. [14] Ophelia achieved its initial peak intensity at 06:00 UTC on 13 October, with maximum sustained winds of 105 mph (165 km/h) and a central pressure of 966 mb (hPa; 28.53 inHg). [3]

Wind shear

Wind shear, sometimes referred to as wind gradient, is a difference in wind speed or direction over a relatively short distance in the atmosphere. Atmospheric wind shear is normally described as either vertical or horizontal wind shear. Vertical wind shear is a change in wind speed or direction with change in altitude. Horizontal wind shear is a change in wind speed with change in lateral position for a given altitude.

Westerlies

The westerlies, anti-trades, or prevailing westerlies, are prevailing winds from the west toward the east in the middle latitudes between 30 and 60 degrees latitude. They originate from the high-pressure areas in the horse latitudes and trend towards the poles and steer extratropical cyclones in this general manner. Tropical cyclones which cross the subtropical ridge axis into the westerlies recurve due to the increased westerly flow. The winds are predominantly from the southwest in the Northern Hemisphere and from the northwest in the Southern Hemisphere.

Atmospheric instability

Atmospheric instability is a condition where the Earth's atmosphere is generally considered to be unstable and as a result the weather is subjected to a high degree of variability through distance and time. Atmospheric stability is a measure of the atmosphere's tendency to discourage or deter vertical motion, and vertical motion is directly correlated to different types of weather systems and their severity. In unstable conditions, a lifted thing, such as a parcel of air will be warmer than the surrounding air at altitude. Because it is warmer, it is less dense and is prone to further ascent.

The hurricane then weakened slightly on the following day, as cloud tops warmed, [15] only to quickly strengthen as the eye became much more defined and cloud tops cooled significantly due to outflow from a strong trough to the northeast. The NHC upgraded the storm to a major hurricane (Category 3 or higher) at 15:00 UTC on 14 October; at 26.6°W, this was the farthest east that a storm of such intensity had been observed in the satellite era. [16] [17] At the same time, it attained its peak intensity with winds of 115 mph (185 km/h) and a minimum pressure of 959 millibars (28.32 inHg) while located approximately 235 miles (375 km) southeast of the Azores. After peaking in intensity, increasing shear and dry air from an encroaching frontal boundary began to disrupt the core of the storm, which caused Ophelia to begin weakening early on 15 October, as it began its extratropical transition, with the eye collapsing. [18] The process accelerated as Ophelia became further embedded in the trough, and ultimately, the storm became extratropical at 03:00 UTC on the next day. [19] Ophelia then made landfall in Ireland as a hurricane-force European windstorm. Afterward, Ophelia weakened, tracked over the UK, and turned eastward. Late on 17 October, Ophelia's remnant made landfall over Norway, before dissipating.

Outflow (meteorology) air that flows outwards from a storm system

Outflow, in meteorology, is air that flows outwards from a storm system. It is associated with ridging, or anticyclonic flow. In the low levels of the troposphere, outflow radiates from thunderstorms in the form of a wedge of rain-cooled air, which is visible as a thin rope-like cloud on weather satellite imagery or a fine line on weather radar imagery. Low-level outflow boundaries can disrupt the center of small tropical cyclones. However, outflow aloft is essential for the strengthening of a tropical cyclone. If this outflow is undercut, the tropical cyclone weakens. If two tropical cyclones are in proximity, the upper level outflow from the system to the west can limit the development of the system to the east.

Trough (meteorology) elongated region of low atmospheric pressure

A trough is an elongated (extended) region of relatively low atmospheric pressure, often associated with fronts. Troughs may be at the surface, or aloft, or both under various conditions. Most troughs bring clouds, showers, and a wind shift, particularly following the passage of the trough. This results from convergence or "squeezing" which forces lifting of moist air behind the trough line.

European windstorm type of storm

European windstorms are the strongest extratropical cyclones which occur across the continent of Europe. They form as cyclonic windstorms associated with areas of low atmospheric pressure. They are most common in the autumn and winter months. On average, the month when most windstorms form is January. The seasonal average is 4.6 windstorms. Deep low pressure areas are relatively common over the North Atlantic, sometimes starting as nor'easters off the New England coast, and frequently track across the North Atlantic Ocean towards western Europe, past the north coast of Great Britain and Ireland and into the Norwegian Sea. However, when they track further south, they can affect almost any country in Europe. Commonly affected countries include the United Kingdom, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, the Faroe Islands and Iceland, but any country in Central Europe, Northern Europe and especially Western Europe is occasionally struck by such a storm system.

Preparations and impact

Azores

The Portuguese Institute of the Sea and the Atmosphere issued a red warning for heavy rainfall for the eastern group of the Azores—São Miguel, Santa Maria and Formigas—on 14 October from 17:59 UTC to 23:59 UTC. [20] An orange gale warning was issued for the eastern group for the afternoon through night of 14–15 October, [20] as well as a yellow alert for high seas. [20] Rainfall alerts were also issued for the central group—Terceira, Graciosa, São Jorge Island, Pico and Faial.

The Instituto Português do Mar e da Amosfera or IPMA is the national meteorological, seismic, sea and atmospheric organization of Portugal. The IPMA was originally created in 1944 as the National Meteorological Service, assuming the present name in 2012, when it assumed also the responsibility for the fisheries and sea research that were formally under the responsibility of other agencies.

São Miguel Island Island in Azores, Portugal

São Miguel Island, nicknamed "The Green Island", is the largest and most populous island in the Portuguese archipelago of the Azores. The island covers 760 km2 (290 sq mi) and has around 140,000 inhabitants, with 45,000 people residing in Ponta Delgada, the archipelago's largest city.

Santa Maria Island Island in Azores, Portugal

Santa Maria, Portuguese for Saint Mary, is an island located in the eastern group of the Azores archipelago and the southernmost island in the Azores. The island is primarily known for its white sand beaches, distinctive chimneys, and dry warm weather.

The President of the Regional Service of Civil Protection of the Azores, Lieutnant-Colonel Carlos Neves, announced there was no serious damage. High winds downed four trees on São Miguel, three in the Ponta Delgada district and one in Povoação. The island also experienced some minor flooding. In the central group of the Azores, there were a few instances of light damage, with one home suffering a roof leak. [21]

Ponta Delgada Municipality in Azores, Portugal

Ponta Delgada is the largest municipality (concelho) and economic capital of the Autonomous Region of the Azores in Portugal. It is located on São Miguel Island, the largest and most populous in the archipelago. The population in 2011 was 68,809, in an area of 232.99 square kilometres. There are 17,629 residents in the three central civil parishes that comprise the historical city: São Pedro, São Sebastião, and São José. Ponta Delgada became the region's administrative capital under the revised constitution of 1976; the judiciary and Catholic see remained in the historical capital of Angra do Heroísmo while the Legislative Assembly of the Azores was established in Horta.

Povoação, Azores Municipality in Azores, Portugal

Povoação is a municipality located in the southeastern corner of the island of São Miguel in the Portuguese archipelago of the Azores. The population in 2011 was 6,327, in an area of 106.41 km².

Iberia

Satellite image depicting smoke from wildfires in northern Portugal and northwestern Spain on 15 October, ahead of Hurricane Ophelia Wildfires over Portugal and Spain on 15 October 2017.jpeg
Satellite image depicting smoke from wildfires in northern Portugal and northwestern Spain on 15 October, ahead of Hurricane Ophelia

Starting on 15 October 2017, winds from Ophelia fanned wildfires in both Portugal and Spain. The wildfires have claimed the lives of at least 49 individuals, including 45 in Portugal and four in Spain, and dozens more were injured. [22] [23] [24] [25] [26] In Portugal, more than 4,000 firefighters battled around 150 fires. [27] The National Hurricane Center's Tropical Cyclone Report on Hurricane Ophelia makes no mention of the fires, thus the associated fatalities are not included as part of the storm total. [3]

Republic of Ireland

Ophelia making landfall in Ireland as an extratropical cyclone on 16 October Ophelia 16 October 2017.png
Ophelia making landfall in Ireland as an extratropical cyclone on 16 October

Met Éireann, Ireland's national meteorological service, reported on 12 October that the storm would reach Ireland. On 14 October, it issued a 'Status Red' warning, its highest storm category, [28] for portions of Ireland. [29] [30] Issuing such a warning more than 48 hours in advance was "unprecedented," as such warnings are normally issued within 24 hours of the event. [31] On 15 October, the National Emergency Coordination Centre and Met Éireann convened to advise the public in relation to the post-tropical storm reaching the Republic of Ireland. At 20:15 on the 15th, 'status red' was extended to all of Ireland, [31] and all public education services were confirmed as cancelled. [32]

The Department of Education and Skills confirmed that all Montessoris, crèches, primary and post-primary schools would be closed on 16 and 17 October. [33] [34] Other public services would be withdrawn such as Court and District Court services, third-level institutes such as UCC, CIT, University of Limerick, and Waterford Institute of Technology. [35] Aer Lingus confirmed a number of flights from Cork Airport and Shannon Airport would be cancelled, with the likelihood of 50 flights being cancelled. [36] All public transport previously scheduled within the red alert zone were cancelled including bus, rail and ferry journeys. Bus Éireann announced the cancellation of school bus services for the west of Ireland after Met Éireann issued a rare Status Red warning affecting the south western and western counties of Wexford, Waterford, Cork, Kerry, Clare, Mayo and Galway. [37] The Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government confirmed members of the public should not make any unnecessary journeys especially travelling within the red level warning areas and the department reiterated the storm's potential risk to life. [38]

On 16 October, gusts of up to 191 km/h (119 mph) were recorded at Fastnet Rock off the coast of County Cork, the highest wind speeds ever recorded in Ireland. 10-minute sustained wind speeds at Roches Point, Co. Cork, reached 111 km/h (69 mph), with gusts of 156 km/h (97 mph). [39]

ESB Group confirmed that more than 360,000 customers were without power in the wake of the storm. [40] [41] Two people, a man in Dundalk and a woman in Aglish, County Waterford, were killed when trees fell on their cars. [42] [43] In County Tipperary, another fatality occurred when a man was clearing a fallen tree with a chainsaw. [44] Two men died in separate incidents after suffering fatal injuries while carrying out repairs to damage caused by Ophelia and Storm Brian. In Cork, a man died after he fell while working on a shed roof, and in County Wicklow another man died after falling from a ladder while carrying out repairs to his farm shed. [45] Initially, it was estimated that Ophelia would cause €1.5 billion (US$1.8 billion) worth of losses in Ireland, mostly due to the shutdown of economic activities on the day of its passage. [46] However, as of 24 October, insurance claims across the country just reached €50 million (US$59 million), much less than the initial estimation of damage. [47] Total damage across the country stood at €68.7 million (US$81.1 million). [48]

United Kingdom

Saharan dust and smoke brought north by the former hurricane created hazy skies across parts of the United Kingdom on 16 October, resulting in an orange or red sun. Orange sun in Gloucestershire 16 October 2017.jpg
Saharan dust and smoke brought north by the former hurricane created hazy skies across parts of the United Kingdom on 16 October, resulting in an orange or red sun.

The Met Office in the United Kingdom issued the first severe weather warnings for Ophelia on 12 October, referring to the hurricane as "ex-Ophelia" in the context of the 2017–18 UK and Ireland windstorm season. [49] The severe weather warning initially issued on 12 October was a yellow weather warning for wind, covering Northern Ireland, northern England, Wales, south west England and southern and western Scotland, valid between 12:00 and 23:55 BST on 15 October. [49] The weather warning impact matrix warned of relatively severe impacts anticipated, although with a low level of certainty so far in advance preventing the issuance of amber weather warnings initially. [49] Subsequently, on 13 October, a yellow severe weather warning for wind was issued for Northern Ireland, southern Scotland and northern England, valid between 00:05 and 15:00 BST on 17 October. On 15 October, the weather warning for wind in Northern Ireland on 16 October was upgraded to an amber weather warning.

The arrival of Ophelia brought Saharan dust to parts of the United Kingdom, giving the sky an orange or yellow-sepia appearance, and the sun a red or orange appearance. [50] [51] A strange 'burning' smell was also reported across Devon, also attributed to the dust, and smoke from forest fires in Portugal and Spain. [52] Winds up to 115 km/h (71 mph) were observed in Orlock Head, County Down, at the height of the storm. Approximately 50,000 households lost power in Northern Ireland. Insurance claims from Northern Ireland, Wales, and Scotland are estimated to reach £5–10 million (US$6.6–13.3 million). [53]

Estonia

In Tallinn, Estonia, black rain fell because Ophelia brought smoke and the soot of fires to Estonia from Portugal, as well as dust from the Sahara Desert, Report informs citing the Estonian media. "We looked at photos from satellites and the Finnish weather service confirmed that the smoke and soot of the fires in Portugal and partly the dust from the Sahara reached us," meteorologist Taimi Paljak said. [54] [55]

Relation to climate change

Climate scientist Reindert Haarsma of the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute said that climate change is likely to cause Europe to see more hurricanes like Ophelia, as the oceans get warmer, although they were still comparing their model's results (previously reported in 2013) with those from other climate centres. [56] But UCD Professor Ray Bates and Ray McGrath (also of UCD) argued that "insofar as the influence of the sea surface temperature is concerned, the exceptional strength of Storm Ophelia was due to natural variability" rather than global warming. [57]

See also

Notes

  1. A major hurricane is a storm that ranks as Category 3 or higher on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale. [2]
  2. 1878, 1886, and 1893 also had ten consecutive hurricanes form; however as these years are several decades before the advent of satellite data (post-1966), these years may be considered unreliable as several tropical storms in between could have been easily missed. Conversely, before the satellite era, hurricanes might have not been detected or detected but not as hurricanes, so there could be other seasons before the satellite era that had 10 or more consecutive hurricanes.

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Hurricane Nadine was the fourth longest-lived Atlantic hurricane on record. The fourteenth tropical cyclone and named storm of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season, Nadine developed from a tropical wave west of Cape Verde on September 10. By the following day, it had strengthened into Tropical Storm Nadine. After initially tracking northwestward, Nadine turned northward, well away from any landmass. Early on September 15, Nadine reached hurricane status as it was curving eastward. Thereafter, an increase in vertical wind shear weakened Nadine back to a tropical storm by September 16. On the following day, the storm began moving northeastward and threatened the Azores; by late on September 19, however, Nadine veered east-southeastward before reaching the islands. Nonetheless, the storm produced tropical storm force winds on a few islands. On September 21, the storm curved south-southeastward while located south of the Azores. Later that day, Nadine transitioned into a non-tropical low pressure area.

2017 Atlantic hurricane season hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean

The 2017 Atlantic hurricane season was a hyperactive and catastrophic hurricane season that, with a damage total of at least $294.67 billion (USD), was the costliest tropical cyclone season on record. With over 3,350 deaths, 2017 was the deadliest season since 2005 and also featured the highest total accumulated cyclone energy (ACE) since the same year. Most of the season's damage was due to three major hurricanes – Harvey, Irma, and Maria. Another notable hurricane, Nate, was the worst natural disaster in Costa Rican history; Harvey, Irma, Maria, and Nate had their names retired due to their high damage costs and loss of life. Featuring 17 named storms, 10 hurricanes, and 6 major hurricanes, the 2017 season ranks alongside 1936 as the fifth-most active season since reliable records began in 1851. The 2017 season had the most major hurricanes since 2005. This season is also one of only six years on record to feature multiple Category 5 hurricanes and the only season other than 2007 with two hurricanes making landfall at that intensity. All ten of the season's hurricanes occurred in a row, the greatest number of consecutive hurricanes in the satellite era, and tied for the highest number of consecutive hurricanes ever observed in the Atlantic basin. Additionally, this season is the only season on record in which three hurricanes each had an ACE of over 40: Irma, Jose, and Maria.

2018 Atlantic hurricane season Hurricane season in the Atlantic ocean

The 2018 Atlantic hurricane season was the third in a consecutive series of above-average and damaging Atlantic hurricane seasons, featuring 15 named storms, 8 hurricanes, and 2 major hurricanes, which caused a total of over $50.205 billion in damages. The season officially began on June 1, 2018, and ended on November 30, 2018. These dates historically describe the period each year when most tropical cyclones form in the Atlantic basin and are adopted by convention. The formation of Tropical Storm Alberto on May 25, marked the fourth consecutive year in which a storm developed before the official start of the season. The next storm, Beryl, became the first hurricane to form in the eastern Atlantic during the month of July since Bertha in 2008. Chris, upgraded to a hurricane on July 10, became the earliest second hurricane in a season since 2005. No hurricanes formed in the North Atlantic during the month of August, marking the first season since 2013, and the eighth season on record, to do so. On September 5, Florence became the first major hurricane of the season. On September 12, Joyce formed, making 2018 the first season since 2008 to feature four named storms active simultaneously. On October 9, Michael became the second major hurricane of the season, and a day later, it became the first Category 5 hurricane to make landfall in the continental United States since Hurricane Andrew in 1992. With the formation of Oscar on October 26, the season is the first on record to see seven storms that were subtropical at some point in their lifetimes.

Tropical cyclone effects in Europe

The effects of tropical cyclones in Europe and their extra-tropical remnants include strong winds, heavy rainfall, and in rare instances, tornadoes. There is only one modern tropical cyclone officially regarded as directly impacting Europe—Hurricane Vince in 2005, which struck southwestern Spain—having made landfall in the European mainland while still fully tropical. Hurricane Debbie in 1961 might have still been tropical when it made landfall in northwestern Ireland, but this is disputed.

Winter storm naming in the United Kingdom and Ireland

The United Kingdom's Met Office, in collaboration with its Irish counterpart Met Éireann, decided to introduce a storm naming system following the St Jude’s day storm on 27–28 October 2013 which caused 17 deaths in Europe and the 2013–14 Atlantic winter storms in Europe to give a single, authoritative naming system to prevent confusion with the media and public using different names for the same storms.

Hurricane Alex (2016) Atlantic hurricane

Hurricane Alex was the first Atlantic hurricane in January since Hurricane Alice in 1955, and the first to form in the month since 1938. The first tropical cyclone of the 2016 Atlantic hurricane season, Alex originated as an extratropical cyclone near the Bahamas on January 7, 2016. The system initially traveled northeast, passing Bermuda on January 8, before turning southeast. It subsequently deepened and acquired hurricane-force winds by January 10. Slight weakening took place thereafter, and the system eventually turned east and northeast as it acquired tropical characteristics. On January 12, it developed into a subtropical cyclone well south of the Azores, becoming the first tropical or subtropical system during January in the North Atlantic since an unnamed storm in 1978. As it turned north-northeast, Alex transitioned into a full-fledged tropical cyclone on January 14 and became a hurricane. The storm peaked as a Category 1 on the Saffir–Simpson hurricane wind scale with maximum sustained winds of 85 mph (140 km/h) and a barometric pressure of 981 mbar. After weakening slightly, Alex made landfall on Terceira Island as a tropical storm the next day. Concurrently, Alex began transitioning back into an extratropical cyclone; it completed this cycle hours after moving away from the Azores. The system ultimately merged with another extratropical cyclone over the Labrador Sea on January 17.

The 2017–18 European windstorm season, or the 2017–18 UK and Ireland windstorm season was the third instance of the United Kingdom's Met Office and Ireland's Met Éireann naming of high impact extratropical cyclones and the first instance of Spanish, Portuguese and French naming as well. This season was also the deadliest windstorm season for the UK and Ireland since official naming began in 2015. In addition, a major amount of the season's damage was due to two of its storms – Emma and Ophelia and the "Beast from the East" cold wave. The first system, Storm Aileen, formed on 12 September. The season also featured Hurricane Ophelia, which impacted the Azores, Portugal and Spain, before it transitioned into an extratropical cyclone and impacted the United Kingdom and Ireland. Storm Brian struck Ireland less than a week later, resulting in three further fatalities.

The 2018–19 European windstorm season is the fourth instance of seasonal European windstorm naming in Europe. Most storms form between September and March. The first named storm, Ali affected primarily the United Kingdom and Ireland on the 19 September.

Hurricane Leslie (2018) Category 1 Atlantic hurricane in 2018

Hurricane Leslie was the strongest cyclone of tropical origin to strike the Iberian Peninsula since 1842. A large, long-lived, and very erratic tropical cyclone, Leslie was the twelfth named storm and sixth hurricane of the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season. The storm had a non-tropical origin, developing from an extratropical cyclone that situated over the northern Atlantic on 22 September. The low quickly acquired subtropical characteristics and was classified as Subtropical Storm Leslie on the following day. The cyclone meandered over the northern Atlantic and gradually weakened, before merging with a frontal system on 25 September, which later intensified into a powerful hurricane-force extratropical low over the northern Atlantic.

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    by ... Reindert Haarsma, Senior Scientist, Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute
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