Double tropical trouble is possible next week

The extremely active 2020 Atlantic hurricane season is just three named tropical storms shy of tying the 2005 record for the most storms to develop in a year, and there is the potential that the placid conditions that have settled into the basin this week could change. As atmospheric conditions become more unsettled, two new systems could brew and spin at the same time in waters just east of North America next week.

A total of 25 systems have reached tropical storm strength or greater so far in the Atlantic Ocean this season, closing in on the record of 28 named storms set in 2005. AccuWeather meteorologists are concerned that not only could one system be named after a Greek letter next week, but now two systems could be on deck.

The next systems to strengthen enough to become tropical storms will be given named after the next letters in the Greek alphabet, which have been used only one other time, in 2005: Epsilon and Zeta. After that, the next storm would be named Eta, a Greek letter that has never been used to name a storm in the Atlantic. In post-analysis after the 2005 season, an originally unclassified system that was dubbed a subtropical storm by the National Hurricane Center (NHC), but it was not given a name.

AccuWeather meteorologists are monitoring a currently disorganized area of clouds located just a few hundred miles southeast of Bermuda. Even though this area of clouds isn’t showing signs or organization currently, forecasters say there is plenty of room for this system to evolve into a tropical or subtropical system late this weekend into the middle of next week.

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“A weakly spinning storm will form first at the middle levels of the atmosphere then may spin down to the surface southeast of Bermuda,” according to AccuWeather’s top hurricane expert, Dan Kottlowski.

This image, captured on Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020, shows a tropical disturbance spreading showers and thunderstorms into the easternmost islands of the Caribbean (lower right). Showers and thunderstorms are also visible over the southwestern Caribbean (lower left), where a gyre is developing. Another batch of thunderstorms can be seen well north of the Leeward Islands (upper right). (CIRA at Colorado State/GOES-East)

As this happens, the system could evolve into a subtropical depression or storm, with both tropical and non-tropical characteristics, then it could strengthen further into a tropical depression or storm over the warm waters of the Atlantic.

“This feature is forecast to move over warm water and be in relatively favorable environmental conditions for development from Sunday to Tuesday or Wednesday as it moves slowly to the west or northwest,” Kottlowski explained.

“The window for development may close by later next week as it enters an area of increasing wind shear,” Kottlowski stated. Wind shear is the sudden increase in wind speed with altitude and/or the sudden change in wind direction across a horizontal area of the atmosphere just above the