GeoColor satellite image of Tropical Storm Epsilon at 11:20 a.m. EDT Monday, October 19. (Image credit: RAMMB/CIRA/Colorado State University)

Tropical Storm Epsilon formed in the central Atlantic 735 miles southeast of Bermuda at 11 a.m. Monday, October 19, 2020, becoming the 26th named storm of this record-busy 2020 Atlantic hurricane season. Epsilon is expected to threaten Bermuda as a category 1 hurricane on Friday, but it is not a landfall threat for the U.S.

Epsilon’s October 19 arrival marks the earliest date that any Atlantic season has produced its 26th named storm, surpassing the record held by Delta from November 22, 2005. In total, 23 of the 26 2020 named storms have set records for being the earliest-arriving for their respective letter; only Arthur, Bertha, and Dolly fell short.

The Atlantic typically has over 85% of its activity by this date. So far, there have been 26 named storms, nine hurricanes, three intense hurricanes, and an accumulated cyclone energy (ACE) index of 123 (34% above average for the date). Only one Atlantic hurricane season since 1851 has had more named storms during an entire season: 2005, with 28 named storms. According to Colorado State University hurricane scientist Phil Klotzbach, the averages for this point in the season are 10.6 named storms, 5.5 hurricanes, 2.5 intense hurricanes, and an ACE index of 92.

Figure 1. Most likely arrival time (black lines) and odds of tropical storm-force winds (colors) for Tropical Storm Epsilon, from the 11 a.m. EDT Monday, October 19, advisory from the National Hurricane Center. Bermuda was given about a 60% chance of seeing tropical storm-force winds of 39 mph or more, most likely being Thursday night.

Forecast for Epsilon

Moderate wind shear of 10 – 20 knots and warm ocean temperatures near 27.5 Celsius (82°F) will favor development of Epsilon through Tuesday. However, the system is embedded in a dry atmosphere with a mid-level relative humidity of 45%, which will slow its development. By Wednesday, Epsilon will move into a region with light wind shear of less than 5 knots, which will favor more rapid strengthening.

Epsilon will meander slowly through Tuesday, but a ridge of high pressure is predicted to build over the Atlantic by mid-week, forcing the storm on a west-northwest to northwest track that will put it near or to the east of Bermuda on Friday. As Epsilon progresses to the northwest, cooler ocean temperatures will limit the amount of intensification that can occur. By the time Epsilon makes its closest approach to Bermuda on Friday, ocean temperatures will be near 26.5 degrees Celsius (80°F), which is marginally warm enough to support a category 3 hurricane. The 12Z Monday run of the SHIPS model gave Epsilon a 19% chance of becoming a category 3 hurricane with 115 mph winds by Thursday.

Keep an eye on the western Caribbean this week

A broad area of low pressure has formed over the western Caribbean. Over the past weekend, the GFS model and its ensembles were suggesting that this low could produce a hurricane during the last week of October, but they have backed off considerably from that idea in recent runs. In the 6Z Monday run of the GFS ensemble model, about 20% of the 31 forecasts predicted that a hurricane would be spawned by the western Caribbean low by next week; just one of the 51 members of the 0Z Monday European model ensemble predicted a hurricane. Any storm that does form in the region would likely move slowly west or west-northwest, potentially bringing heavy rains to Cuba and/or Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. In a 2 p.m. EDT Monday Tropical Weather Outlook, NHC gave two-day and five-day odds of development of 10% to this system.

Figure 2. King tide flooding in Charleston, South Carolina on Sunday, October 18, at Lockwood Drive. (Image credit: Palmetto State Chasers)

King tides causing significant flooding on U.S. East Coast

Significant coastal flooding has been affecting much of the Southeast and mid-Atlantic U.S. coast since October 15, during the high “king tide” period associated with the October 16 new moon. The October king tides are some of the highest of the year, as the moon is near perigee (its closest approach to the Earth). Tidal levels were particularly high on Sunday over the southeastern U.S., because of powerful northeast onshore winds associated with the clockwise flow of air around a strong area of high pressure over the North Atlantic near Newfoundland. At least four tide gauges with a long period of record experienced a top-20 coastal flood event on Sunday:

Charleston, South Carolina (records since 1921) experienced a major coastal flooding event on Sunday morning, with water levels reaching its 14th highest level on record. The city has had 52 days in 2020 with at least minor coastal flooding, mostly from “sunny day” high tide floods. The city is predicted to see at least minor coastal flooding during every high tide through Wednesday, with major flooding expected on Monday afternoon.

Fort Pulaski, Georgia (records since 1935) experienced a moderate coastal flooding event on Sunday morning, with water levels reaching their 15th highest level on record.

Jacksonville, Florida, at Mayport on the St. Johns River (records since 1928), experienced a minor coastal flooding event on Sunday morning, with water levels reaching their 19th highest level on record.

Also see: Swells from Hurricane Teddy drive major king tide coastal flooding

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, (records since 1957) experienced a minor coastal flooding event on Sunday morning, with water levels reaching their 20th highest level on record.

King tide flooding will gradually diminish during the coming week.

Website visitors can comment on “Eye on the Storm” posts (see below). Please read our Comments Policy prior to posting. (See all EOTS posts here. Sign up to receive notices of new postings here.)

Posted on October 19, 2020(1:16 p.m.EDT).

Jeff Masters

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...

34 replies on “Tropical Storm Epsilon forms in the central Atlantic”

  1. (clipped)..Flood Advisory
    National Weather Service Miami FL
    1230 PM EDT Wed Oct 21 2020
    
    FLC011-086-099-211900-
    /O.EXT.KMFL.FA.Y.0169.000000T0000Z-201021T1900Z/
    /00000.N.ER.000000T0000Z.000000T0000Z.000000T0000Z.OO/
    Broward FL-Miami-Dade FL-Palm Beach FL-
    1230 PM EDT Wed Oct 21 2020
    
    The National Weather Service in Miami has extended the
    
    * Flood Advisory for...
      Southern Broward County in southeastern Florida...
      Northern Miami-Dade County in southeastern Florida...
      Southern Palm Beach County in southeastern Florida...
    
    * Until 300 PM EDT.
    
    * At 1230 PM EDT, Doppler radar indicated heavy rain. Minor flooding
      is ongoing or expected to begin shortly in the advisory area.
      Between 2 and 4 inches of rain have fallen.
    
    Some locations that will experience flooding include...
      Miami, Hialeah, Fort Lauderdale, Pembroke Pines, Hollywood,
      Miramar, Coral Springs, Pompano Beach, Davie, Miami Beach,
      Plantation, Sunrise, Boca Raton, Deerfield Beach, Boynton Beach,
      Delray Beach, Homestead, Tamarac, Margate and Coral Gables.
    
    Additional rainfall of 1 to 2 inches is expected over the area. This
    additional rain will result in minor flooding.
    
  2. About to make landfall over Aurora province in the Luzon region of the Philippines

    Japan Meteorological Agency
    Tropical Cyclone Advisory #13 – 21:00 PM JST October 20 2020
    TROPICAL STORM SAUDEL (T2017)
    =============================================
    Sea East of the Philippines

    At 12:00 PM UTC, Tropical Storm Saudel (996 hPa) located at 15.8N 122.0E has 10 minute sustained winds of 35 knots with gusts of 50 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving west at 12 knots.

    Gale Force Winds
    =====================
    200 nm from the center in northwestern quadrant
    120 nm from the center in southeastern quadrant

    Dvorak Intensity: T2.5

    Forecast and Intensity
    =========================
    12 HRS: 15.7N 118.6E – 35 knots (CAT 1/Tropical Storm) South China Sea
    24 HRS: 16.3N 117.4E – 45 knots (CAT 1/Tropical Storm) South China Sea
    48 HRS: 17.1N 115.9E – 55 knots (CAT 2/Severe Tropical Storm) South China Sea
    72 HRS: 17.3N 113.6E – 60 knots (CAT 2/Severe Tropical Storm) South China Sea

    1. hi did the runs of GFS this morning and so far it has no storms for us…but..each few days conditions down there are different so i stay alert till end of November for sure

  3. Japan Meteorological Agency
    Tropical Cyclone Advisory #11 – 15:00 PM JST October 20 2020
    TROPICAL STORM SAUDEL (T2017)
    =============================================
    Sea East of the Philippines

    At 6:00 AM UTC, Tropical Storm Saudel (996 hPa) located at 15.7N 123.2E has 10 minute sustained winds of 35 knots with gusts of 50 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving west at 14 knots.

    Gale Force Winds
    =====================
    210 nm from the center in northwestern quadrant
    120 nm from the center in southeastern quadrant

    Dvorak Intensity: T2.5

    Forecast and Intensity
    =========================
    12 HRS: 16.6N 119.9E – 35 knots (CAT 1/Tropical Storm) South China Sea
    24 HRS: 15.9N 117.8E – 40 knots (CAT 1/Tropical Storm) South China Sea
    48 HRS: 16.7N 115.6E – 50 knots (CAT 2/Severe Tropical Storm) South China Sea
    72 HRS: 16.8N 113.5E – 60 knots (CAT 2/Severe Tropical Storm) South China Sea

    1. Grothar always seemed to be one of the handful of WU regulars who inspired affection among the vast majority of those who posted on the blog. Deservedly so. His niceness and self-deprecating humor were a welcome presence. RIP, Gro.

    2. Thanks for all your great work with Dr.Jeff. I have previously invited Dr. Jeff to join me for a beer next time he gets to Jupiter, FL. He accepted, and you are invited too. I used to fly P-2s for the Naval Air Reserve; so I have a few stories for you. All the best.

    3. What sad news
      You will be missed by so many of us.
      Every time a big blob comes off Africa I will think of you.
      Rest in peace Gro.

  4. Has anyone ever studied how these cycles would change if the Moon orbited the Earth at the same velocity westward instead of eastward? It would transit from Moonrise to Moonset faster, overtaking the Sun such that if the last sliver of the Moon rose right after Sunrise, all but invisible, then the new moon would set just ahead of the sunset, all but invisible. What might happen to the atmospheric tidal waves associated with the Moon’s orbit? What happens to cyclone rotations? Anything significant, I wonder.

  5. Japan Meteorological Agency
    Tropical Cyclone Advisory #9 – 9:00 AM JST October 20 2020
    TROPICAL STORM SAUDEL (T2017)
    =============================================
    Sea East of the Philippines

    At 0:00 AM UTC, Tropical Storm Saudel (1000 hPa) located at 15.6N 124.7E has 10 minute sustained winds of 35 knots with gusts of 50 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving west northwest at 14 knots.

    Gale Force Winds
    =====================
    210 nm from the center in northwestern quadrant
    120 nm from the center in southeastern quadrant

    Dvorak Intensity: T2.5-

    Forecast and Intensity
    =========================
    12 HRS: 15.9N 122.3E – 35 knots (CAT 1/Tropical Storm) Sea East of the Philippines
    24 HRS: 16.0N 119.0E – 35 knots (CAT 1/Tropical Storm) South China Sea
    48 HRS: 16.2N 115.9E – 50 knots (CAT 2/Severe Tropical Storm) South China Sea
    72 HRS: 16.6N 113.9E – 60 knots (CAT 2/Severe Tropical Storm) South China Sea

  6. Thanks for the new blog thread. Question, do you think will we ever get to Zeta before the end of this 2020 Hurricane season?

    1. Wouldn’t be surprised if we go all the way to Kappa – to cap off the season.

      Though surely the question on everyone’s mind is,
      what’s the estimated time of arrival for Eta?

Comments are closed.