Tropical Storm Barry
made landfall near Veracruz, Mexico at 8 am CDT on Thursday, June 20, as an unremarkable tropical storm with top winds of 45 mph. Heavy rain will be the main threat from Barry, and up to ten inches are expected to fall in some mountainous regions as Barry pushes inland and dissipates over the next day. Satellite loops
show that Barry is a small storm, and its heavy rains will affect only a modest area of Mexico. Elsewhere in the tropical Atlantic, none of the reliable computer models is showing tropical cyclone development in the next seven days.Figure 1.
Satellite image of Tropical Storm Barry near the time of landfall.Barry's place in history
Barry is the second named storm of June 2013, and its formation date of June 19 is a full six weeks earlier than the usual August 1 date of formation
of the season's second storm. Only two hurricane seasons since 1851 have had as many as three tropical storms form in June: 1936
. The formation of two Gulf of Mexico storms so early in the year does not necessarily suggest that we will have an active hurricane season. June storms forming in the Caribbean and Tropical Atlantic are typically a harbinger of an active hurricane season, though.
The formation of Tropical Storm Andrea and now Tropical Storm Barry in June continues a pattern of an unusually large number of early-season Atlantic named storms we've seen in recent years. During the period 1870 - 2012, we averaged one named storm every two years in June, and 0.7 named storms per year during May and June. In the nineteen years since the current active hurricane period began in 1995, there have been sixteen June named storms (if we include 2013's Tropical Storm Andrea and Tropical Storm Barry.) June activity has nearly doubled since 1995, and May activity has more than doubled (there were seventeen May storms in the 75-year period 1870 - 1994, compared to six in the nineteen-year period 1995 - 2013.) Some of this difference can be attributed to observation gaps, due to the lack of satellite data before 1966. However, even during the satellite era, we have seen an increase in both early season (May - June) and late season (November - December) Atlantic tropical storms. Dr. Jim Kossin of the University of Wisconsin looked at the reasons for this in a 2008 paper titled, "Is the North Atlantic hurricane season getting longer?"
He concluded that there is a "apparent tendency toward more common early- and late-season storms that correlates with warming Sea Surface Temperature but the uncertainty in these relationships is high." He found that hurricane season for both the period 1950-2007 and 1980-2007 got longer by 5 - 10 days per decade (see my blog post
on the paper.)