Matthew, Nicole and other tropical cyclones worldwide

Hurricane Matthew

After forming just to the east of the Caribbean 11 days earlier, Hurricane Matthew finally ended its life as a tropical cyclone just off the coast of North Carolina in the USA this weekend. Although Matthew weakened to category 1 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale as it made landfall on Saturday, it produced huge amounts of rain and a significant storm surge to parts of northern Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas. An event total of 467 mm (18.38 inches) rain was recorded near Elizabethtown in North Carolina.

Last week there was some indication from forecast models that Matthew could make a turn to the south and move back towards the Bahamas or Florida this week. However, during the weekend forecasts started to agree that this would not happen. In the event Hurricane Matthew drifted eastwards into the Atlantic and became absorbed into a frontal zone and low pressure area crossing the USA. This combined system is moving north-eastwards and is tracking towards Greenland and Iceland.

Tropical Storm Nicole

Whilst Hurricane Matthew is no longer a tropical cyclone, Tropical Storm Nicole remains slow-moving in the Atlantic to the south of Bermuda. Nicole did attain hurricane status last Thursday and Friday, but then weakened over the weekend. However, latest predictions suggest that Nicole will again become a hurricane and will start to accelerate north, then north-east. The current forecast track takes Nicole directly over or just to the west of Bermuda on Thursday. This could bring strong winds, heavy rain, storm surge and rip currents to the islands.

Although Bermuda is only around 25 km long at its longest it is in a location which is often threatened by tropical cyclones. In 2015 Hurricane Joaquin passed just far enough to the west of the island to only inflict minor damage. However, in 2014 Bermuda was hit by category 1 Hurricane Fay followed by category 2 Hurricane Gonzalo just six days later. Gonzalo inflicted between $200 and $400 million of insured damages in Bermuda, but no deaths or serious injuries were caused.

Tropical Storm Nicole 11 Oct 2016. Image courtesy of US Naval Research Laboratory

Tropical Storm Nicole 11 Oct 2016. Image courtesy of US Naval Research Laboratory

After passing close to Bermuda Nicole is expected to remain in the central Atlantic for some time. Any progress towards Europe as a post-tropical cyclone is likely to be blocked by an area of high pressure which develops over the Atlantic to the east of the storm.

Elsewhere in the world

Typhoon Songda is located in the western North Pacific far from land and is expected to accelerate north-eastwards away from the tropics in coming days. Although it will not make landfall as a tropical system, current predictions suggest its warmth and moisture could be swept into a deep area of low pressure which will head across the Pacific towards the west coast of North America later this week.

Typhoon Songa 11 Oct 2016. Image courtesy of CIRA/RAMMB

Typhoon Songa 11 Oct 2016. Image courtesy of CIRA/RAMMB

Computer models are also agreeing that a typhoon could develop and track towards the central Philippines later this week. The Philippines has had a very quiet typhoon season so far this year with just one (Typhoon Nida) having made landfall as it crossed the north-eastern tip of Luzon.

Further Information

Official warnings for the latest tropical cyclones in the North Atlantic are issued by the US National Hurricane Center. In the western North Pacific warnings are issued by the Japan Meteorological Agency. The Met Office routinely supplies predictions of cyclone tracks from its global forecast model to regional meteorological centres worldwide, which are used along with guidance from other models in the production of forecasts and guidance. We also provide updates on current tropical storms via @metofficestorms on Twitter.

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