Sept. 10 (UPI) — Paulette is expected to pass close enough to Bermuda to bring hurricane conditions Sunday, and there is the likelihood that the storm could reach Category 2 status or even a major hurricane –Category 3 or greater — as it nears the island.
Interests in Bermuda are urged to closely monitor the progress of Paulette which will close in on the islands during the weekend as it takes a general northwesterly course.
As of 8 a.m. AST Saturday, Paulette was a strong tropical storm packing 70-mph winds with gusts to hurricane force about 415 miles southeast of Bermuda and was moving west-northwestward at 15 mph. Some fluctuation in strength, including brief weakening, can occur as the system encounters disruptive wind shear into Saturday.
Officials issued a hurricane warning for the island. Forecasters expect the storm to strengthen into a hurricane later Saturday.
Wind shear is associated with strong winds aloft or the rapid change in wind direction across an area above the ocean. Strong wind shear can prevent tropical cyclones from forming or cause established tropical cyclones to weaken.
“Paulette will be moving over warmer water and within a more moist and unstable environment with lowering wind shear during the balance of this weekend,” AccuWeather’s top hurricane expert Dan Kottlowski said.
“We are expecting Paulette to become a hurricane sometime Saturday night or Sunday morning as wind shear decreases as it approaches Bermuda and further intensification is expected through the rest of Sunday and Monday,” Kottlowski said.
If the wind shear drops off even more than currently expected, Paulette could strengthen into a major hurricane with winds of over 110 mph as it approaches Bermuda early next week.
Depending on the exact track, forward speed and strength of Paulette, conditions may deteriorate quickly over the islands during Sunday night with the worst conditions possible during Monday.
Seas and surf will build in the waters around Bermuda later this weekend, especially south and east of the islands.
Increasing winds, showers and gusty thunderstorms are likely during Sunday night in Bermuda. There will be the risk of high winds, coastal flooding and torrential rain, all dependent on Paulette’s exact track and strength, during Monday to Monday night.
Should Paulette make the northward and northeastward turn east of Bermuda, the islands would be spared the worst and may only experience tropical storm conditions.
Despite Bermuda’s strict building codes, some property damage and power outages are likely with a glancing blow, and more widespread damage and power outages are possible if the storm makes a direct hit on the island as a major hurricane.
Should Paulette drift farther west of the islands, a non-tropical system projected to move eastward from North America should be enough to steer Paulette northward away from the United States later next week.
Only if that non-tropical weather system is slower or weaker might Paulette drift close enough to the U.S for impacts other than building seas and surf.
There is a somewhat higher chance for Paulette to track close enough to Newfoundland with some wind and rain late next week. A period of rough seas is likely around the Canada province later next week, even if Paulette remains to the east.
Paulette is occurring around the traditional peak of the Atlantic hurricane season, which is Sept. 10-11.
Several systems are being monitored over the basin in a season that has already produced 17 named systems and could go on to rival the historic 2005 season. During 2005, 28 named storms set a record for the most ever in a season, and the Greek alphabet was used to name systems for the first time.
Developing tropical storms are likely to continue the 2020 trend of systems setting new early-formation records in the coming days, with the development of Sally and Teddy likely on the near horizon.
As many as five tropical cyclones may be spinning in the Atlantic at the same time over the next week or so.