Right about now, thousands of especially grumpy Miamians are sitting in traffic wondering what the hell happened to the tropical storm that was supposed to get them out of work today. Erika was a dud, turning into nothing more than a wave of decent thunderstorms Saturday and Sunday.
If obsessive hurricane tracking is your thing, though, the Atlantic has already obliged with another named storm. Say hola to Hurricane Fred, which was born early this morning in the far eastern reaches of the ocean.
Fred reached 80 mph sustained winds this morning as it rolled northwest toward the Cape Verde islands, the National Hurricane Center reports this morning.
If Erika was a bizarre storm — baffling meteorologists trying to predict its strength and path right up through Saturday morning — Fred is already even weirder. Full-force hurricanes almost never form so far in the eastern Atlantic. Every Miami resident knows Cape Verde because the most destructive 'canes usually start as tropical waves over the African isles before gaining strength over the open sea.
But Cape Verde itself never gets hurricanes; it's too close to Africa, so the storms never have room to strengthen. There's actually no record of the islands ever getting hit with a hurricane in modern times. That'll change today.
"Despite the fact that the Atlantic's most feared type of hurricanes are named after the Cape Verde islands, the islands themselves rarely receive significant impacts from one of their namesake storms," writes Bob Henson at the Weather Underground.
So what will Fred mean to the U.S.? It's way too early to say. The storm is expected to weaken after rolling through the islands as it moves west all week. Whether it can restrengthen over open seas into a hurricane remains to be seen.
As for what's left of Erika, Florida could continue getting soaked today by the storm's remnants. Miami saw plenty of rain yesterday and a particularly loud wave of thunderstorms Saturday night.
tropical storm erika or voldemort arriving in miami? pic.twitter.com/XfbCzNP2A3— nela (@danielaokay) August 30, 2015
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The island of Dominica, meanwhile, remains in a state of emergency; at least 20 people died amid massive flooding when Erika passed through last week.