Rare three-storm formation leads to ‘hurricane déjà vu’

A comparison photo between the 2010 and 2017 Atlantic storm seasons during the month of September. – Photo: Weather Underground

The existence of three hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico at the same time last week brought a bit of déjà vu for international storm observers.

Although the occurrence of three such powerful storms simultaneously in the Atlantic is quite rare – it’s happened fewer than 10 times since 1851, according to Colorado University meteorologist Dr. Phil Klotzbach – a strikingly similar event happened almost exactly seven years ago.

On Sept. 16, 2010, three active hurricanes were recorded in the Atlantic including Karl in the southern Gulf, Igor approaching the Caribbean and Julia out in the Atlantic.

Last Thursday, it was Katia in the southern Gulf, Irma edging into the Caribbean from the Atlantic and Jose out in the Atlantic.

It was the same storm ‘letter’ names, in close to the same positions, within about a week of one another, seven years apart.

There are critical differences, however, between the two sets of hurricane “triple threats,” according to Dr. Klotzbach. The main difference being that the 2017 version is far more dangerous.

As of Friday, Dr. Klotzbach pointed out that the three hurricanes on the Atlantic side were all ‘category 2’ [at least 96 mph] wind strength or higher. That was not the situation in 2010.

“[It’s the] second time on record this has occurred and first time since 1893,” Dr. Klotzbach wrote on his Twitter feed Friday.

Dr. Klotzbach pointed out that 2017 also marks the first Atlantic hurricane season in history where consecutive storms [Harvey, Irma and Jose] have reached ‘category 4’ strength or greater.

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