Otto becomes 8th hurricane of the season
Tropical Storm Otto has graduated. It is now Hurricane Otto, the 8th of the 2010 Atlantic season. But it continues to move off to the northeast, of no concern to the U.S. mainland. It could become a problem for the Azores early next week.
The National Hurricane Center said Otto is more than 400 miles south of Bermuda, moving east northeast at 17 mph, with top sustained winds of 75 mph. Forecasters say the storm will strengthen some before beginning to weaken again late Saturday as it accelerates into the northeast.
Even so, the NHC indicates Otto is leaving its calling card in the islands of the northeast Caribbean Sea:
"RAINFALL...ADDITIONAL HEAVY RAINFALL IS POSSIBLE IN THE NORTHERN
LEEWARD ISLANDS...THE VIRGIN ISLANDS...PUERTO RICO...AND THE EASTERN
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC TODAY. THESE RAINS COULD PRODUCE LIFE-
THREATENING FLASH FLOODS AND MUD SLIDES."
Elsewhere in the tropics, forecasters are watching a stormy region in the southwestern Caribbean. It is expected to get better organized in the next few days, but is given only a 20 percent chance of becoming a tropical cyclone in the next 48 hours. If it does become the next tropical storm, it would be named Paula.
So, how are the prognosticators doing so far this season, with a little more than 7 weeks to go? They predicted an active season compared with the long-term averages, and that has certainly held true.
AVERAGE (1966-2009): Named: 11.3 Hurricanes: 6.2 Major (Cat. 3 or higher): 2.3
ACTUAL 2010 TO DATE: Named: 15 Hurricanes: 8 Major: 5
Colorado State Univ.: Named: 15 Hurricanes: 8 Major: 4
AccuWeather: Named: 17 Hurricanes: 10 Major: 4
NOAA: Named: 14-23 Hurricanes: 8-14 Major: 3-7
Fortunately, nine of the 15 named storms have blown themselves out at sea (although a few have sent dangerous surf ashore). Only one - TS Bonnie made landfall in the U.S., a brush with South Florida. Nicole sent loads of rain our way, and Hermine caused serious flooding in Texas after a landfall in Mexico.