Tropical storms Alberto and Beryl were early birds with split personalities. When Alberto formed on May 19, it was the first time on record that a tropical storm started before the official season in both the Atlantic and Pacific. Four days later, Beryl began and it broke a 100-year-old record by becoming the strongest tropical storm to hit the coast of the Atlantic before the official start of the hurricane season.
Besides breaking records, both storms literally blew hot and cold. They started off as subtropical storms, a very unusual type of storm. A subtropical storm is a normal thunderstorm cluster that drifts over hot water and begins to turn tropical. It is a swirling tropical storm near the surface of the water and a cool thunderstorm higher up. Both Alberto and Beryl warmed up and eventually became completely tropical. Then they pounded the Southeast coast with heavy rains.
Chris: The “Zombie Hurricane” wandering in the North Atlantic
Hurricane Chris was even more unusual – in the words of AccuWeather meteorologist Rob Miller, it was a zombie! “It was alive, but it should not have been.” The first hurricane of the season formed at the same latitude as New Jersey! Never before since record keeping began in 1851 has a tropical storm formed that far north in the Atlantic this early in hurricane season. It was too far north, the waters were too cool, yet there was Chris staggering through the North Atlantic.
Now we have Tropical Storm Debby. For the first time in hurricane history, four tropical storms have begun before July 1. Unlike her three tropical partners, however, Debby has been in no hurry. She is currently lingering off the coast of Florida, generating rain and tornadoes.
The weird season of 2012 is not all bad news, however. The cluster of tropical storms has brought desperately needed rain to the drought-stricken South. Additionally, many experts are predicting an El Niño during the second half of the year. If that happens, the freaky Atlantic Hurricane season of 2012 will finally slow down.