December 2, 2022

Tropical Storm Karl formed in the Bay of Campeche off the Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday, becoming the 11th named storm of the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season.

Karl was 110 miles east-northeast of Veracruz, Mexico, and was moving northwest at about 6 miles per hour as of 8 p.m. Eastern time, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm’s maximum sustained winds were 40 m.p.h.

A storm is given a name after it reaches wind speeds of at least 39 miles per hour.

The government of Mexico issued a tropical storm watch for the coast of Mexico from Cabo Rojo to Puerto Veracruz. A tropical storm watch means that tropical storm conditions are possible within the area over the next 48 hours.

The storm is expected to continue strengthening gradually over the next day before weakening on Thursday, forecasters said. Karl is expected to continue moving northwest before a gradual turn west and west-southwest on Wednesday. By Thursday, forecasters said, the storm will approach the coast of Mexico and projections show that it could then hit the area by 1 a.m. on Friday.

Karl could dump up to 10 inches of rain on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec and Southern Sierra Madre Oriental mountain range, and the coast could see 6 inches. The Mexican coastline could also see swells that could create life-threatening surf and rip currents, forecasters said.

The Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June through November, had a relatively quiet start, with only three named storms before Sept. 1 and none during August, the first time that has happened since 1997. Storm activity picked up in early September with Danielle and Earl, which formed within a day of each other.

Next came Fiona, which left much of Puerto Rico without electricity for more than a week, and then Gaston and Hermine. Ian struck southwestern Florida as a Category 4 storm in late September, killing more than 100 people and causing a staggering scale of destruction. Julia, which formed 10 days after Ian made landfall in Florida, hit Central America with heavy rain on Sunday.

In early August, scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued an updated forecast for the rest of the season, which still called for an above-normal level of activity. In it, they predicted that there could be 14 to 20 named storms during the season, which runs through Nov. 30, with six to 10 turning into hurricanes with sustained winds of at least 74 m.p.h. Three to five of those could strengthen into what NOAA calls major hurricanes — Category 3 or stronger — with winds of at least 111 m.p.h.

Last year, there were 21 named storms, after a record-breaking 30 in 2020. For the past two years, meteorologists have exhausted the list of names used to identify storms during the Atlantic hurricane season, an occurrence that has happened only one other time, in 2005.

The links between hurricanes and climate change have become clearer with each passing year. Data shows that hurricanes have become stronger worldwide during the past four decades. A warming planet can expect stronger hurricanes over time, and a higher incidence of the most powerful storms — though the overall number of storms could drop, because factors like stronger wind shear could keep weaker storms from forming.

Hurricanes are also becoming wetter because of more water vapor in the warmer atmosphere; scientists have suggested storms like Hurricane Harvey in 2017 produced far more rain than they would have without the human effects on climate. Also, rising sea levels are contributing to higher storm surge — the most destructive element of tropical cyclones.

McKenna Oxenden contributed reporting.

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