Gordon Becomes a Hurricane; Helene Downgraded to Tropical Depression

This is what a tropical cyclone looks like.  Hurricane Gordon in the Central Atlantic at 945AM EDT on 8/18/12.

As I suggested could happen last night, Gordon was upgraded at 5AM EDT this morning to hurricane status, becoming the 3rd hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season.  As of the 11AM advisory, estimated maximum sustained winds were 80 mph and Gordon was moving eastward at 18 mph.  Given how far Gordon is from land (700 miles west-southwest of The Azores), maximum sustained winds are estimated by satellite observations.  The Portugal government has issued hurricane warnings for the central and eastern islands of the The Azores.  They should begin feeling the impacts of Gordon during the day Sunday with increased surf before the main impacts of a tropical cyclone (wind and rain) pass through Sunday night and during the day Monday.  So, I hope you weren’t planning a trip to The Azores this weekend.

Meanwhile, Helene has been downgraded to a tropical depression over Mexico.  To be honest, the naming of the storm was questionable, but a hurricane hunter aircraft found enough evidence of a circulation and maximum sustained winds above 35 kts to bump the storm to tropical storm status and slap a name on it.  Remember storms like Helene when you hear end-of-the-season reports talking about how many named storms there were in the Atlantic/Caribbean this year.  Helene was a tropical storm (level at which names are given) for about 18 hours and spent most of that time barely above the tropical storm threshold.  Now, the track of Helene will likely show the time spent as Tropical Depression Seven over the Atlantic basin and, perhaps, the time spent as an open wave over the Caribbean.  Again, just keep this in mind around November/December.

Finally, the tropical wave off the coast of Africa continues to produce showers and thunderstorms.  Conditions are favorable for gradual development over the next few days and it’s possible a tropical cyclone could form sometime next week.  It’s still a long way from affecting land, but it’s worth keeping on eye on.

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