It’s been a very active hurricane season for the Atlantic basin this year, with the hot spots being along the Gulf coast. Late in August, we had hurricane Laura, a powerful category 4 hurricane make landfall in southwest Louisiana. Moving forward to this morning, slow-moving hurricane Sally officially made landfall near 5:45 AM near Gulf Shores, Alabama as a category 2 hurricane. During it’s approach to landfall, it did show signs of weakening yesterday, weakening to a category 1. But as we saw with Hurricane Harvey back in 2017, Michael in 2018, and Laura this past August, it rapidly strengthened right before making landfall.
For it to be officially declared a land-falling tropical cyclone, half of the eye needs to be observed onshore. Typically if you follow the National Hurricane Center on Twitter or on Facebook, they will announce the exact place and time of the landfall. But once Sally’s landfall was official, it became the 8th named storm to make a continental U.S landfall in 2020. Why is that significant? That is now the most on record through September 16th, beating the previous record of 7 back in 1916. That’s pretty crazy to think about, especially since the end of the Atlantic hurricane season isn’t until November 30th. Aside from Sally, we have hurricane Paulette in the northern Atlantic, and hurricane Teddy in the eastern Atlantic. Paulette is expected to slowly weaken towards weeks end, while Teddy will continue to strengthen towards major hurricane status (Category 3 or higher).
After tropical depression 21 became Vicky earlier in the week, Wilfred stands alone as the last name on the Atlantic hurricane names list. Once we run out of names, the National Hurricane Center then turns to Greek letters for names. The last time this happened was during the historic season of 2005. Starting with tropical storm Alpha which formed late in October, to tropical storm Zeta which actually lasted into the next calendar year. As of this morning, there are two tropical waves that could potential become Wilfred. One in the southwestern Gulf of Mexico, and another off the coast of Africa. The National Hurricane Center has given the wave off the coast of Africa a better chance at organization. Only time will tell.