SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) – Could Tropical Storm Gonzalo grow in intensity and become a hurricane by landfall in northern South America?
Tropical Storm Gonzalo started as a tropical disturbance, which is a weather system with organized convection that originates in the tropics or subtropics. Tropical disturbances are made known once it has maintained its identity for at least 24 hours.
Each storm in the tropics or subtropics is followed from its start as a tropical disturbance to see if it will strengthen into something larger
There are four categories for tropical storm systems. Each category is dependent on what the current depression or storm is showing. The four categories include:
- Tropical disturbance
- Tropical depression
- Tropical storm
The storm in the Atlantic is currently classified as a tropical storm. Once a disturbance reaches the tropical storm category it is officially named. This current storm is known as Tropical Storm Gonzalo.
This means that Tropical Storm Gonzalo has grown from a tropical disturbance, into a tropical depression, and now a tropical storm.
For a storm to increase in classification, it must show signs of becoming more organized and strengthening in intensity.
For a storm to go from disturbance to depression it must have sustained surface wind speeds of 38 mph or less. Sustained wind speeds refer to wind speeds on a one-minute timed average.
This means that the tropical depression became organized enough to grow in intensity and produce an average wind speed up to 38 mph.
As the tropical depression continued to head towards northern South America, it continued to strengthen, forming into a tropical storm.
Now that the disturbance has strengthened into a tropical storm, it officially receives a name. This one has received the name, Gonzalo.
A tropical depression becomes a tropical storm when the sustained winds increase and range from 39 mph to 73 mph. It also is a tropical cyclone, which is a low-pressure system that develops over tropical and sometimes subtropical waters and has organized deep convection with a closed wind circulation around a well-defined center, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). This just means that the storm itself is now showing signs of it rotating around the center of a low-pressure system (like a hurricane).
According to the NOAA, Tropical Storm Gonzalo’s estimated maximum sustained wind speeds are around 50 mph as of 11 a.m. Wednesday morning.
Tropical Storm Gonzalo will only become a hurricane if it (the tropical cyclone) has maximum sustained wind speeds of 74 mph or higher.
Tropical Storm Gonzalo is projected to reach hurricane status prior to reaching the northern Windward Islands; however, it is projected to lose intensity just before reaching the Windward Islands. This means as it reaches the northern WIndward Islands it is projected to make landfall as a tropical storm.
Gonzalo is expected to bring heavy rainfall and high wind gusts to areas in its path.