In North Carolina, the the tropical moisture streaming northwards in advance of Nicole has generated an epic rainfall event. Wilmington, NC recorded 20.69 inches of rain over the past four days, and 21.28" for the five-day period ending at 10am EDT this morning.
October hurricane outlook
October is here, and it is time to take stock of where we stand and how far we have to go before hurricane season is over. The beginning of October traditionally marks the two-thirds point of hurricane season; approximately one-third of all hurricanes and 28% of named storms occur after October 1. Tropical Storm Nicole brought us up to fourteen named storms for the year, and I expect about 4 - 5 more named storms this year with 2 - 3 of these being hurricanes. That would add up to 18 - 19 named storms for the season, putting 2010 in 3rd - 5th place all-time for most named storms. Since record keeping began in 1851, only four seasons have finished with more than eighteen named storms. These seasons were 2005 (28 named storms, with the 17th named storm, Rita, occurring by October 1); 1933 (21 named storms, with the 18th named storm occurring by October 1); 1995 (19 named storms, with the 15th named storm, Opal, occurring by October 1); and 1887 (19 named storms, with the 10th named storm occurring by October 1.) The most likely time to get activity is during the first two weeks of October. There are still two weeks of peak hurricane season left before the activity traditionally begins to decline steeply (Figure 2.) Given the record warm sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic this fall, the presence of La Niña in the Eastern Pacific keeping wind shear lower than average, and the observed increase in late-season activity in recent decades, I expect this year's peak portion of hurricane season will last until the end of October. I predict three named storms, two hurricanes, and one intense hurricane will form in the Atlantic this month, with two named storms and one hurricane occurring in November - December, making 2010 as the third busiest Atlantic hurricane season of all-time.
NHC is giving 97L a 40% chance of developing into a tropical depression by Sunday, but as of this morning, had not tasked the Hurricane Hunters to fly into the storm over the next two days. 97L will slow down to 5 - 10 mph on Sunday, bringing the potential for an extended 3 - 4 day period of heavy rains for the islands in its path. Even if 97L does not develop into a tropical depression, its slow motion may result in life-threatening flash flooding and mudslides in Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and eastern Cuba next week.