On September 18, 2020, around 6:30 p.m., a surprise subtropical storm formed off the coast of Portugal. It was called ‘Alpha’ and I say that it was formed “by surprise” because, although we had data that something strange was happening, this type of phenomenon is so rare that nobody paid attention to it until it was upon us.
Therefore, when the Meteosat woke us up With the amazing images that head this article, all the alarms went off.
A storm more spectacular than dangerous. We had already talked about the Atlantic storm that had been producing a drop in temperatures for days that did not correspond to what we could expect next summer. What we had not been able to tell is that the storm was stationed in the west of the peninsula and, by dint of twisting and turning, it has created a really curious structure with certain subtropical characteristics.
Luckily for everyone, he hasn’t reached the level of Alpha. But, as Juan José Villena pointed out, it has come very close to having a warm nucleus and, naturally, making a very difficult mess along the entire Atlantic coast. It may sound weird, but honestly, with our string of extreme weather events, it wouldn’t be surprising at all.
Hurricanes in the neighborhood. Also, we only have to go a few months before Alpha, in 2019, to see a Category 5 hurricane very, very close to Spain. Come on, we’ve never seen it so close before. If we think of less intense hurricanes, we can go back to 2005 to see Vince make landfall in Huelva.
This is kind of weird, really. The usual thing, if we talk about the North Atlantic, is that the most powerful storms begin to form near the coast of Cape Verde and, pushed by the trade winds, take shape in the Caribbean, the Gulf of Mexico and the surrounding areas. From there, hurricanes often follow the path of ancient trading ships (and the Gulf Stream) to climb up the eastern seaboard of the United States and veer toward Europe.
The great European meteorological advantage… These hurricanes reach Europe (if they arrive) very weakened and are only exceptionally capable of putting us in trouble. However, each time we are seeing a different type of subtropical storm: one that is born off the coast of Morocco and heads towards the Iberian Peninsula, becoming increasingly powerful.
The luck we had is that there was no space, nor enough energy for those ‘hurricanes’ to be more than category 1 or 2. Waters at more than 26 degrees and considerable depths are needed for the atmosphere to sustain convection beyond those limits and in Europe it is not easy to reach those levels.
…which may be about to disappear. However, more and more experts are pointing out that we are seeing the beginning of a new dynamic of cyclonic storms: one that is going to increase the intensity of storms in Europe. As we said a long time ago, they are only estimates, but as the years go by they do nothing but become more plausible.
Image | weathered
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism