Weather

Edouard formed in the Atlantic, but it isn't the tropical system the US should watch

Posted July 6, 2020 11:32 a.m. EDT

— Tropical Storm Edouard formed in the Atlantic on Sunday night with sustained winds of 40 mph.

"The center of the Edouard is located a little over 500 miles south of Newfoundland," CNN meteorologist Dave Hennen says.

It is forecast to turn into a post-tropical system later Monday or Monday night and is expected to continue to track toward Ireland and the UK.

If it stays together, it could impact these countries later in the week.

But the tropical system people in the US should keep their eyes on is moving across the Southeast on Monday.

This system moved from the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday and drifted over the Florida Panhandle and into Georgia Monday. Once the low-pressure system emerges back into the Atlantic off the Carolina coasts, it could become our next named storm.

Formation over the next 48 hours is low, about 10%, says the National Hurricane Center. However, over the next five days, that chance increases to 40%.

If it does become better organized once it drifts back into the Atlantic, it could have impacts up the Eastern seaboard. A few forecast models take the storm up the coast, impacting New Jersey and New York later in the week. This is very similar to the way a nor'easter in winter would track up the coast.

Development or not, this storm system will bring a major flood threat to the Southeast. It could have similar flooding impacts that Bertha delivered earlier this season.

"The water temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico off the Florida Panhandle range from 83 to 85 and that very warm water will enhance the humidity in the air that is flowing onshore with this low," says CNN meteorologist Chad Myers. "The increased humidity will bring the threat of very heavy rainfall and possible flooding for Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas over the next few days."

The area is already soaked, which will exacerbate the situation.

"Over the last 30 days, the northern half of Florida has picked up eight to 10 inches of rain; same with the coastal regions of Georgia and the Carolinas. So any additional rain from this system could trigger widespread flooding," said CNN meteorologist Allison Chinchar.

Edouard adds another record to this historic 2020 hurricane season

Edouard is the earliest fifth Atlantic named storm -- storm with first letter E -- formation on record.

"On average, we don't typically see our first named storm in the Atlantic until July 9. It's July 6 and we've already had five," CNN meteorologist Haley Brink.

The Atlantic basin typically averages its first hurricane by August 10.

"All of the Atlantic storms so far in 2020 have been relatively weak and short lived," Philip Klotzbach, a research scientist at Colorado State University, tweeted.

"The last time we had an "E" storm this early in the season was 15 years ago in July 2005," CNN meteorologist Tyler Mauldin says.

That year both Dennis and Emily were extremely powerful hurricanes.

It was also the year hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated portions of the Gulf Coast.

Fortunately, Brink says, the five storms this year have all remained at tropical storm strength and we have yet to see a hurricane form.

CNN meteorologist Brandon Miller cautions that "a lot more goes into how 'busy' a hurricane season is than just the number of storms."

You also have to take into account the intensity and longevity of storms.

"Normally, early in the season we see weak tropical disturbances struggle to 'get over the hump' and become named tropical storms," Miller said. "But this year each one seemingly has formed into a named system -- will that portend a continuing trend right through the peak of the season? We will have to wait and see but, historically speaking, early activity does not necessarily correlate with an active peak season."

As of now, the forecast for an extremely active season remains on track.

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