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NOAA says record warm sea temperatures increasing Atlantic activity with forecast of second major hurricane

Riviera Maya, Q.R. — A system that developed off the coast of Africa two days ago has already developed into a named storm. Tropical Depression Thirteen was named Tropical Storm Lee Tuesday after quickly becoming developed and organized in the Atlantic.

The storm, which does not present any risk to Quintana Roo, is expected to develop further into a hurricane early Thursday and even further to major hurricane status for Friday.

Forecasters are predicting a Category 4 status by mid-day Friday as the system passes the northern Lesser Antilles and makes its way toward the U.S. east coast.

Mexico’s National Meteorological Service (SMN) has reported that “due to its distance and trajectory, the system does not represent a danger to Mexican territory,” however, “it is being kept under surveillance.”

Tropical Depression Thirteen quickly developed into Tropical Storm Lee which is forecast to become a major hurricane by Friday.
Photo: SMN August 5, 2023.

When Lee developed into a tropical storm Tuesday, the SMN reported it being nearly 5,000 kilometers east of the coast of Quintana Roo. If the forecast for development is correct, it will be the second major hurricane to develop in Atlantic waters in a week.

On August 28, slow moving Tropical Storm Idalia finally passed Cancun. The system soaked the Quintana Roo coast for nearly four days as it made its way toward the Gulf of Mexico. Once there, it quickly developed into a hurricane that hit Florida days later.

Last month, scientists at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center forecast a sharp and sudden increase in Atlantic activity after a fairly quiet start to the hurricane season.

On September 4, there were five systems recorded in the Atlantic after a rather stagnant start to the 2023 hurricane season.

Forecasters have changed their 2023 Atlantic hurricane season prediction from near-normal activity to above-normal. The change was made due to the record-warm sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic.

“The main climate factors expected to influence the 2023 Atlantic hurricane activity are the ongoing El Nino and the warm phase of the Atlantic Multi-Decadal Oscillation, including record-warm Atlantic sea surface temperatures,” said Matthew Rosencrans, lead hurricane season forecaster with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.

“Considering those factors, the updated outlook calls for more activity, so we urge everyone to prepare now for the continuing season.” The update comes as the Atlantic nears peak hurricane season.

Last year, Cancun and Riviera Maya did not experience any tropical storms or hurricanes during the traditional season months.