Hurricane Danielle Officially Becomes First of the Atlantic Season

by Suzanne Halliburton

There’s finally some major activity in the Atlantic. On Friday, Tropical Storm Danielle got elevated to hurricane status.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami announced the news via social media in a mid-morning evaluation. At that time, Danielle had maximum sustained wins of 75 miles per hour. The storm was about 885 miles west of the Azores. And the hurricane was nearly stationary, moving west at only 1 mph.

The winds make Danielle a low category 1 storm. However, she went from tropical storm to hurricane overnight. The hurricane force winds extend 15 miles from the eye. But tropical-storm-force wind field (in excess of 39 mph) stretch 115 miles.

Danielle possibly jump started hurricane season, which was predicted to be an active one. She’s only the fourth named storm of the season and the first in about two months. Hurricane season usually is at its most active from late August through September. But it starts June. 1.

Good News: Hurricane Danielle Likely Will Fizzle in Cold Atlantic Waters

So where is Hurricane Danielle headed? All the weather models suggest she’s not a threat to the United States unless she does a weird, unexpected turn. The National Hurricane Center describes the storm’s current path as “meandering.” But the storm likely will turn northeast early next week.

Within the next two days, Danielle could reach cat 2 status (winds of at least 96 mph). But if Danielle heads to the northeast, then she’ll likely start to fizzle in the colder waters of the Atlantic. The NHC didn’t issue a hurricane watch or warning for any areas, as yet.

Will this late start to hurricane season mean we’re off the hook? The first named hurricane usually arrives by Aug. 11. So Danielle is about three weeks late. But the tropics are getting active. Earlier Friday, the Hurricane Center acknowledged it was tracking two other areas of concern.

There is a low pressure system that covers several hundred miles east of the Leeward Islands. It’s all drifting to the west, northwest. There is a medium chance that the system will develop into a depression within the next two days. However, it has a 70 percent chance into becoming a tropical depression within the next five days. Potential name? It’ll be Earl if the winds reach 39 mph.

An Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter plane will investigate the area this afternoon to gather more information. Meanwhile, there’s also an area of low pressure west of the Cabo Verde Islands. The strongest hurricanes usually get their start in this area. But the NHC says that the system is moving into a “less favorable environmental area.” Chances of development within the next 48 hours are about 10 percent.

A forecast in early August still suggested that there will be at least 14 named storms this season. We’re two years removed from the most active Atlantic hurricane season on record. Back in 2020, there were 30 named storms. Last year, there were 21. making it the third most active Atlantic hurricane season.