Satellite image
Tropical Storm Paulette (left) and Tropical Depression 18 (right) as seen at 11:45 a.m. EDT Monday, September 7, 2020, by the GOES-16 satellite. (Image credit: Tropical Tidbits)

The 2020 parade of record-early named storms in the Atlantic continued on Monday, September 7, with the formation of Tropical Storm Paulette in the central Atlantic. Paulette has been joined by Tropical Depression 18 (TD 18) in the eastern Atlantic, which will likely become Tropical Storm Rene later on Monday. Neither storm is on a track that poses a long-range threat to the Caribbean or U.S.

A west-northwest to northwest track into the central Atlantic

Steering currents will carry both Paulette and TD 18 to the west-northwest or northwest during the week. This will put them into the central Atlantic in a location where few tropical cyclones ever go on to make a landfall in the Caribbean or the U.S., making them excellent candidates to be “fish” storms – tropical cyclones primarily of concern to shipping, with no impact on any land areas. There are two exceptions: TD 18 may bring tropical storm conditions to the Cabo Verde islands on Monday evening through Tuesday, and Paulette could affect Bermuda by the middle of next week.

It is likely that as Paulette gets stronger, it will move farther north, where strong winds of an upper-level trough expected to form north of Puerto Rico later this week will have a greater influence on a stronger storm. This trough is also likely to bring higher wind shear, weakening Paulette.

TD 18 is less likely to experience high wind shear from this trough, and more likely to become a hurricane. TD 18 may move slightly faster than Paulette, allowing the two storms to grow close enough late this week to affect each other’s track and intensity.

Figure 1
Figure 1. Predicted rainfall rates (mm/hr) and sea level pressure (black lines) for 8 a.m. EDT Monday, September 14, from the 8 a.m. EDT Monday, September 7, run of the GFS model. The model predicted that three tropical cyclones would be active in the Atlantic. (Image credit: Tropical Tidbits)

2020 parade of record-early named storms continues

With three days to go until the typical September 10 frequency peak of the Atlantic hurricane season, we’ve already had 16 named storms, five hurricanes, and one intense hurricane. According to Colorado State University hurricane scientist Phil Klotzbach, the averages for this point in the season are six named storms, three hurricanes, and one intense hurricane.

Paulette’s arrival on September 7 marks the earliest date, in records going back to 1851, that any Atlantic season has produced its sixteenth tropical storm, topping the record held by Philippe from September 17, 2005. Only five more names remain on the 2020 Atlantic list: Rene, Sally, Teddy, Vicky, and Wilfred. TD 18 is likely to become Tropical Storm Rene later on Monday; the record for earliest-forming “R” storm in the Atlantic is September 18, 2005 (Rita).

It is looking increasingly likely that the National Hurricane Center will have to turn to the Greek alphabet, a last resort that’s been used only in 2005. That unforgettable year produced tropical storms Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, Epsilon, and – on December 30 – Zeta.

A potential more concerning storm: the next African tropical wave

Top models for forecasting tropical cyclone genesis are giving strong support for development to a new tropical wave predicted to emerge from the coast of Africa on Thursday.

This wave is predicted to move mostly westward at low latitude at roughly 15 mph next week. Given its lower-latitude position compared to Paulette and TD 18, this new tropical wave may be a threat to the Caribbean and North America. In a 2 p.m. EDT Monday Tropical Weather Outlook, NHC gave the new wave two-day and five-day odds of development of 0% and 50%, respectively.

NHC was also watching an area of low pressure, located just southwest of Bermuda, producing sparse and disorganized heavy thunderstorm activity and moving slowly westward toward the southeastern U.S. In a 2 p.m. EDT Monday Tropical Weather Outlook, NHC gave this disturbance two-day and five-day odds of development of 10% and 30%, respectively.

Figure 2
Figure 2. Typhoon Haishen as seen from the International Space Station on September 6. (Image credit: Chris Cassidy)

Typhoon Haishen hits South Korea

Typhoon Haishen roared ashore in eastern South Korea near the city of Ulsan around 7 p.m. EDT Sunday as a category 2 storm with 100 mph winds. Haishen’s eye passed over the eastern side of the city of Busan, South Korea’s second largest city. Remarkably, this was only a few miles from the Busan-area landfall point for category 2 Typhoon Maysak on September 2.

As with Maysak, Haishen could not drive a large storm surge to the coast into the port of Busan (the world’s fifth-largest shipping port), as the winds in Busan blew offshore as the storm approached. However, Haishen caused considerable wind damage in Busan, where sustained winds peaked at 63 mph, gusting to 75 mph, at 7:30 a.m. local time on Monday.

Figure 3
Figure 3. Radar image of Typhoon Haishen showing its precipitation rate (in mm per hour) near the time of landfall in South Korea at 7:30 a.m. local time on September 7, 2020. Note that one inch = 25.4 mm. (Image credit: Korea Meteorological Administration)

The typhoon knocked out power to over 500,000 people on Japan’s island of Kyushu, where a wind gust of 138 mph was recorded at Nomomachi (Nagasaki Prefecture). Rainfall amounts as high as 600 mm (23.62 inches) were recorded on Kyushu, at Misato on the southeast coast. According to a story from, Haishen killed one person in Japan, left four people missing, and injured at least 108 people. South Korea suffered one fatality. South Korea’s Jeju Island received 552 mm (21.7 inches) of rain by 10 a.m. local time on Monday; Yangsan received 296 mm (11.7 inches), and Ulsan received 245 mm (9.6 inches).

An unprecedented battering for Korea

According to NOAA’s historical hurricanes database, between 1945 and 2019 Korea (including both North and South Korea) had not been hit by three typhoons (sustained winds of at least 74 mph) in one year.

So Typhoon Haishen’s landfall was historic, as Typhoon Bavi had made landfall on August 27 in North Korea at category 1 strength, and Typhoon Maysak had made landfall on September 2 in South Korea at category 2 strength. The NOAA database lists 14 typhoons that have passed over South Korea prior to 2020 – 10 at category 1 strength, three category 2s and one category 3. Only three typhoons passed over North Korea prior to 2020, all minimal category 1 storms with 75 mph winds.

Figure 4
Figure 4. Departures from average sea surface temperature (degrees Celsius) across the Northwest Pacific on September 1. Near-record-warm ocean temperatures were present to the south of Korea and Japan, though the passage of Typhoon Bavi had caused some cooling along the west coast of Korea. These warm waters helped fuel the twin category 2 typhoons that hit South Korea on September 2 and September 7 – Maysak and Haishen. (Image credit: Tropical Tidbits)

Extreme tropical cyclones can breed extreme jet stream behavior

As Typhoon Maysak plowed northwards towards Korea during the first two days of September, it was able to maintain its intensity unusually far to the north because of near record-warm ocean waters created by one of the greatest heat waves in east Asian history.

Papin tweet

Ocean temperatures in late August south of Korea were 30 degrees Celsius (86°F) – more than two degrees Celsius (3.6°F) above average. The intense heat wave that helped create these unusually warm ocean waters also brought Japan its hottest day in recorded history – Hamamatsu, Japan, on August 17 tied the record set in 2018 for hottest temperature ever measured in Japan, with 41.1 degrees Celsius (106°F). The extreme heat has carried over into the first week of September, with Sanjo, Japan, setting the nation’s all-time September heat record on September 3, with 40.4 degrees Celsius (105°F).

Supercharged by this remarkable ocean heat, Maysak was able to make landfall in South Korea on September 2 as one of only five category 2 or stronger typhoons on record since 1945 to hit the nation.

When Maysak merged with the jet stream as a powerful extratropical storm on September 2nd and 3rd, the supercharged storm injected a tremendous amount of energy into the jet stream, helping accelerate the winds of that mighty river of air to nearly 200 mph – a wind speed nearly five standard deviations above average. As shown in the tweet (click this link to animate and see the full explanation), the jet stream responded to Typhoon Maysak’s energy by contorting into a series of amplified ridges and troughs downstream from east Asia during Labor Day weekend. That in turn led to formation of an unusually strong trough of low pressure over Alaska, development of a record-intensity ridge of high pressure over the western U.S., and an unusually strong trough of low pressure now taking shape over the Rocky Mountain states.

How climate change is making hurricanes more dangerous

The ridge over the western U.S. brought all-time record heat and intense wildfire activity to many locations in California September 5 – 6. The intense trough of low pressure developing over the Rocky Mountain states is predicted to bring a startling case of weather whiplash to Colorado: places where it was 100 degrees Fahrenheit on Sunday will get snows of 3 – 7 inches on Tuesday. In some locations, these may be the earliest snows on record for the season.

Figure 5
Figure 5. This personal weather station in Denver marked a rare feat on Sunday, September 6: a temperature of 100 degrees Fahrenheit with a concurrent Winter Storm Watch. The official high at the Denver International Airport on Sunday was 97 degrees. (Image credit: Weather Underground, an IBM company)

The unusual jet stream behavior behind the current extreme U.S. weather was made more likely by global warming, as part of the ocean warmth that enabled Typhoon Maysak to penetrate so far to the north at high intensity occurred because the planet as a whole is on pace for its warmest or second-warmest year on record – behind only 2016.

As explained in a 2014 paper by Kossin et al., “The poleward migration of the location of tropical cyclone maximum intensity,” typhoons and hurricanes have been growing more intense farther to the north in recent decades, and this effect can be plausibly linked to the changes in global circulation that are causing an expansion of the tropics, which is thought to have a significant link to human-caused global warming.

The unusual jet stream behavior may also be linked to the near-record decline in Arctic sea ice currently underway. As of September 7, coverage of sea ice in the Arctic was the second-lowest on record, behind only 2012, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center. This is an area of active research, but numerous studies in recent years have linked Arctic sea ice loss to unusual jet stream behavior of the type now occurring (see the excellent June 2020 summary at Carbon Brief).

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Posted on September 7, 2020 (3:41pm EDT)

Jeff Masters, Ph.D., worked as a hurricane scientist with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990. After a near-fatal flight into category 5 Hurricane Hugo, he left the Hurricane Hunters to pursue a...

116 replies on “Tropical Storm Paulette, earliest ‘P’-named storm on record, forms in the Atlantic”

    1. Thank you young man, I will have my grandson teach me how to work with it once he gets home from work today.

  1. With the ridge rebuilding and shutting out the possibility of out to sea, the tropical wave to come off the african coast could be the big player down the road. It is already at a low latitude and moving due west with very little room to move out to sea . Sally as will expect it to get that name will be an impacting storm. Some models have it going over the virgin islands and Puerto Rico’s as a major cat 3. It is too early to say, but this system should be watched very closely. Next week will be very interesting with more waves expected to roll out from the African coast.

  2. Low Rider coming off Africa next. Models suggestive that it could make the eastern Carribean as a hurricane. 94L, our close to home may form, wouldn’t be very 2020 of it if it doesn’t. May be another invest that forms close to home soon afterwards as well. We may get fortunate with Paulette and Rene, we may not with the wave about to push off Africa. Five day outlook pictured, possible low rider highlighted.

    1. Wyatt, I am not capable of bringing up any models as my computer skills are limited due to my advanced age (I will be 93 on October 8th God willing) this low rider that you mention, will it go into the gulf? Or is there a chance that it turns NW and affect the southeast coast of US? I know that this is a premature question, but I was just wondering what the models are thinking at this time.

      1. Long way out to watch, too early to know yet Windsmurf. 93 wow! That’s amazing! Quite the last almost century you have witnessed. We’ll have a little better idea about track over this coming weekend.

      2. Thank you young man, I will continue to look for your comments in the upcoming days. You seem well centered and logical.

      3. My pleasure, thank you for your kind words. When the rest of the bunch make it over you will be pleasntly surprised. Some to the best minds in the business. Hope you get to meet the famous and wise Grothar. He’s about your age, you would get a real hoot out of his knowledge and humor. He gets all the declassifed doom models first sure seems. He use to often drop them on the blog to the delight of the crowd. 🙂

  3. “So much for a wild crazy 2020 prediction continental US got nothing”- Tornadosky wrote below. This is glaringly patently false and downright shameful considering the suffering ongoing from landfalling hurricanes already in 2020.

    1. I totally agree; his comments are REALLY dangerous, especially since we still have a couple more months to go, and October can really bring some dangerous hurricanes. I hope people don’t take his posts too seriously on here.

  4. It’s one thing to have scientific reasoning for only downcasting mockingly ad nauseam, it’s another, to do so while never using any logical reasoning. That’s called mocking, and the trolling should be obvious to all. It may be easy for you to make light of such, I just hope your empathy is as great for those suffering. Hurricane Laura damage pictured.

    1. Wow, that’s incredible damage! I don’t know if people realize how damaging that lack of empathy can be. It’s especially concerning since I’m sure there are people who frequent this blog and the remaining Weather Underground section, who aren’t regulars and may be popping in to get the latest news on the tropics, and take those trolls seriously. That’s a problem because the next time a big hurricane comes around, people might not take it as seriously. Trolling on weather forums is SUCH a bad thing to do!

      1. Why I’m combatting it with facts that show it clearly. Most see it, and I appreciate you echoing this Benjamin. Thank you.

  5. i dunno, here in pinellas saturday evening we had a big thunder.lightning and very heavy rain…sunday evening just some thunder and a very light rain shower..did’nt last long

  6. As we head into uncharted territory for possible hurricane risks, from now through at least mid October, the downcasting, dangerously disingenous trolls, who are lying, like Tornadosky, should not be allowed here to mislead so. They’ve posted so dozens of times now. Some people take the likes of Tornadosky seriously. That’s dangerous with the season yet ahead.

    1. Don’t pay attention to them. If they really knew what they were talking about, they would be working at the national hurricane center and not giving us unfounded predictions

      1. I don’t take their downvotes personally anymore. It’s obvious to most, and it’s the trolls who are here regularly currently not the regs. I am thankful so many more have shown up recently though. I think that’s great.

    1. From Hurricane City on Savannah’s worst landfall ever recorded: 1893 aug 28th,115mph from the south 2,000 killed ,pressure at landfall of 958 mb weakened from 940mb at landfall and a 60 nmi Radius of maximum winds however this was a very large windfield and much larger than Hugo.. Additionally, the storm made landfall coincident with the full moon phase the moon reaching full at 3:42 am on the 27th. The highest measured wind in Savannah was 72mph due to land friction before eye passing over with 10mph winds. This hurricane was moving at a forward speed of 15mph while hitting and made landfall at 11:00PM.

    2. Shared from the link below: One of the deadliest hurricanes in American history made landfall south of Tybee Island near Savannah on August 27, 1893. Now known as the 1893 Sea Island Hurricane, the storm had winds as high as 120 mph and a sixteen-foot storm surge—the equivalent of a Category 3 hurricane on the modern-day Saffir-Simpson scale.

      This is a much more detailed link to this Hurricane’s effects:,%2Dday%20Saffir%2DSimpson%20scale.

    1. My question to you, sir, then, is: Did Laura not count? Did the strongest landfalling hurricane in Western Louisiana/Eastern Texas not do damage? I’ve seen the pictures, it was one heck of a hurricane! To say otherwise is essentially a mockery of everyone’s suffering, and also to imply that the NHC has a quota of storms to fill is ridiculous. I mean, we all recall 2006, when everyone thought it was going to be a hyperactive year and barely turned anything out. It happens, and to suggest otherwise is kinda foolish and unwise. You gotta remember that there may be people who aren’t “into” tropical meteorology as much, and that they may take comments like yours seriously, which would lead to problems later on down the line, especially if you sow the seeds of doubt with the NHC in people……maybe stop the trolling, dude?

    1. Close to a Dorian, Maria like track, maybe closer to Hurricane Jose 2017. When the MJO gets back, likely early October, gonna be a problem. Parade of recurves would be welcome. Hope they do.

    1. Good point to keep in mind!!! A lot of people just measure the season by the number of storms, not their intensity. We’ve got a loooonnngggg way to go yet if we’re to match the ACE of 2005 (which I doubt we will, but as this is 2020, I’m not discounting anything just yet)

  7. Thanks for this article. Especially interesting, the section on Maysak and jet stream effects.

  8. Morning everyone….there is some strange blue-ish water vapor reflecting on radar over Wyoming and Colorado this morning….. 🙂

    1. That’s snow. Green/yellow/orange is rain. And I don’t think that’s a water vapor image, though it does record precip.

      1. I didn’t put that -1 next to you Susan, but I was trying to be funny in my post given early September…I agree, it is precipitation but was still trying to make a funny reference…..enjoy your day, Susan!!

  9. Can’t believe we’re currently 1 1/2 weeks and one named storm ahead of 2005, and by Sunday, have a 76% chance of being 2 1/2 weeks / two named storms ahead, and a 24% chance of being 3 weeks / three “named” storms (including 2005’s unnamed storm) ahead.

    This is madness.

    1. First, respects and prayers for those directly affected by Laura and other storm this year.

      On point, no question 2005 was a wow season.

      You might want to also watch the (Accumulated Cyclone Energy) ACE values for 2020 as an indicator of tropical cyclone activity. 2005 was around 250 total. As of 3 am Mountain Time today, 2020 is at 46 – per the experts at Colorado State University

  10. Anyone else looked at the North Atlantic basin on on Forcast map for Tuesday the 15th yet? Shows 6 full on storm swirls and another wave cominig off Africa spinning up. Lol Looks really busy.

  11. What was the lowest pressure observed in South Korea during Typhoon Haishen? I looked at the pressure observations at Ulsan where a reading of 954 mb was observed, but the gap between observations was 3 hours.

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