A ‘zombie tropical storm’ just came back to life in the Atlantic

Tropical Storm Paulette just came back to life in the eastern Atlantic. The revival comes days after storm trackers issued what would have been their last update on Paulette. But you can’t keep a storm like Paulette down — it’s come back as a zombie.

“Zombie” isn’t a technical designation, just a nickname for storms that peter out, only to come back from the dead when conditions allow. For a tropical storm to form (or rise again) it needs favorable wind conditions, plenty of warm and moist air, and warm ocean waters. It also needs to have the general structure of a tropical storm, with a warm center, and a lack of cold or warm fronts. That structure is what Paulette briefly lost last week, causing its untimely “demise.”

A map image with blue, green and yellow blotches indicating where rainfall was occuring during Paulette. A satellite image showing Paulette’s rainfall on September 22 | NASA/NOAA/NRL

In other news, the National Weather Service is clearly just as tired of this year as the rest of us.

Paulette’s resurrection comes more than a week after it slammed into Bermuda as a hurricane. On September 16th, during their last discussion of the storm, the forecasters predicted that there was “some chance” Paulette could pull something like this. At the time, Paulette’s remains weren’t organized like a tropical storm, but it was still kicking, creating high seas — and it was headed into warm water, which fuels cyclones like this one.

The conditions were good enough that Paulette re-formed on September 22nd, but it’s just staggering along. The latest forecast, as of this writing, says that Paulette is weakening and is expected to become a remnant again within a day.

READ MORE  ‘Miss Anthropocene’: The Grimes album tailor-made for the coronavirus pandemic
A map of the Atlantic ocean. Towards the center and left, well off the East coast of the US is a boomerang-shaped swath of orange with red at the center. To the right, distant from the bigger shape is a smaller line of orange.Image: NWS / NHC
Paulette’s wind history, from when it formed until September 22nd.

While Paulette’s second life is likely to be brief, other zombie storms have been far more powerful. In 2018, Leslie hammered the Iberian Peninsula after an exceedingly weird 19-day tour of the Atlantic. And in 2014, Hurricane Ana re-formed in the Pacific just in time to slam into British Columbia.

Zombie storms aren’t entirely uncommon — in addition to Ana and Leslie, 2013’s hurricane season saw both Humberto and Gabrielle rise from the dead, and in 2014 a different zombie storm re-formed just before Halloween. That’s spooky timing, but what’s spookier than any zombie hurricane is the fact that over the past several decades, hurricanes have become stronger thanks to climate change.

This year’s hurricane season has already been extremely active. There have been so many storms that forecasters are now using the Greek alphabet to name new cyclones. Currently, we’re up to Beta.

Hurricane season will continue until November 30th.

The Verge

Ominy science editory team

A team of dedicated users that search, fetch and publish research stories for Ominy science.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Enable notifications of new posts OK No thanks