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|Category 2 hurricane (SSHWS/NWS)|
|Formed||September 7, 2020|
|Dissipated||September 28, 2020|
|(Post-tropical after September 22)|
|Highest winds||1-minute sustained: 105 mph (165 km/h)
|Lowest pressure||965 mbar (hPa); 28.5 inHg|
|Damage||≥ $50 million (2020 USD)|
|Areas affected||Cape Verde, Bermuda, East Coast of the United States, Azores, Madeira|
|Part of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season|
Hurricane Paulette was a long-lived Category 2 Atlantic hurricane which became the first to make landfall in Bermuda since Hurricane Gonzalo did so in 2014. The sixteenth named storm and sixth hurricane of the record-breaking 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, Paulette developed from a tropical wave that left the coast of Africa on September 2. The wave eventually consolidated into a tropical depression on September 7. Paulette fluctuated in intensity over the next few days due to strong wind shear, initially peaking as a strong tropical storm on September 8. It eventually strengthened into a hurricane early on September 13 as shear decreased. On September 14, Paulette made landfall in northeastern Bermuda as a Category 2 hurricane while making a gradual turn to the northeast. The cyclone further strengthened as it moved away from the island, reaching its peak intensity with 1-minute sustained winds of 105 mph (165 km/h) and a minimum central atmospheric pressure of 965 mbar (28.50 inHg) on September 14. On the evening of September 15, Paulette began to weaken and undergo extratropical transition which it completed on September 16. The hurricane's extratropical remnants persisted and moved southwards then eastwards, and eventually Paulette regenerated into a tropical storm early on September 20 south of the Azores– which resulted in the U.S National Weather Service coining the phrase "zombie storm" to describe its unusual regeneration. Paulette's second phase proved short-lived, however, as the storm quickly weakened and became post-tropical again 2 days later. The remnants persisted for another week before they dissipated south of the Azores on September 28. Paulette was the longest-lived tropical cyclone worldwide in 2020, its lifetime spanning 21 days (3.0 weeks).
Paulette brought hurricane-force sustained winds and heavy rain to Bermuda, causing widespread power outages on the island. Paulette caused an estimated US$50 million in damage in the country. Large swells affected the East Coast of the United States, and 2 people drowned off the coasts of New Jersey and South Carolina, respectively, after getting caught in rip currents generated by the hurricane. Minimal impacts were recorded in Azores from Paulette's second stint as a tropical cyclone.
Origins and early phase
As early as 12:00 UTC on August 30, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) began to track a tropical wave, a type of atmospheric trough, located over Africa for possible development once it was to move into the Tropical Atlantic. The wave, which moved off the coast of West Africa on September 2, produced a large area of convection, or thunderstorms, over the Eastern Atlantic as it trekked westward. To the west of the disturbance was another broad area of low atmospheric pressure which merged with the wave on September 5, producing a well-defined surface low. However, convective activity remained disorganized. The disturbance gained sufficient organization by 00:00 UTC on September 7 to be designated a tropical depression about 1,160 miles (1,865 km) west of the Cabo Verde Islands and about 1,425 miles (2,290 km) east of the Northern Leeward Islands. Late on that morning, an Advanced Scatterometer (ASCAT) pass indicated that the depression had begun to produce winds up to gale-force, warranting its upgrade to Tropical Storm Paulette 12 hours later.
Paulette moved generally west-northwestward over the warm Atlantic waters and gradually strengthened on September 8, despite the presence of southwesterly wind shear and mid-level dry air in its vicinity, which caused most of its thunderstorms to be dislocated from the low-level circulation (LLC) on satellite images. As a high-pressure area began to develop to the north, Paulette accelerated slightly during this time. At 15:00 UTC on September 8, Paulette reached its first peak intensity with 1-minute sustained winds of 60 mph (100 km/h) and a minimum central pressure of 996 mbars (29.41 inHg). It held this intensity for roughly 12 hours before wind shear started becoming increasingly hostile, with wind shear levels reaching as high as 50 mph (80 km/h). This was as a result of a large upper-level trough positioned to the storm's northwest, which put a halt to Paulette's intensification. The storm's circulation became exposed on satellite images on September 9, although weakening remained slow.
Wind shear began to gradually decrease by September 10, which allowed Paulette to resume its slow strengthening trend. Around this time, the area of high-pressure steering Paulette had developed a weakness to the storm's northwest, allowing Paulette to begin to turn northwest in its direction and cause its forward speed to increase. As it exited its unfavorable environment the cyclone continued to intensify into September 12, nearing Category 1 hurricane strength and displaying an eye-like feature on visible satellite imagery. By late on September 12, a Hurricane Hunter reconnaissance aircraft flew into the storm and confirmed that Paulette had intensified into a hurricane at 00:00 UTC on September 13 on its approach to the island of Bermuda. The hurricane made a turn to the west-northwest as yet another area of high-pressure built to Paulette's northeast, causing the storm to round the edge of it. Thus, Paulette began to be steered towards Bermuda while it continued to intensify, although its intensity was limited by occasional intrusions of dry air.
Paulette reached Category 2 strength on the Saffir–Simpson scale shortly before its large eye passed directly over, or made landfall, in Bermuda at 07:30 UTC on September 14 with estimated 1-minute sustained winds of 100 mph (160 km/h). Paulette reached its strongest peak intensity after passing north of Bermuda with 1-minute sustained winds of 105 mph (169 km/h) and a minimum central pressure of 965 mb (28.5 inHg). Paulette started to accelerate to the northeast in coordination with the mid-latitude wind flow north of the high pressure system previously steering it. Paulette began extratropical transition by September 15 while its wind speeds began to diminish. Paulette completed its transition and became an extratropical cyclone about 350 nmi (400 mi; 650 km) southeast of Cape Race, Newfoundland as it interacted with the baroclinic zone, over the cool waters of the Northern Atlantic, on September 16.
Extratropical phase, regeneration, and dissipation
Paulette continued to produce hurricane-force winds as a powerful extratropical cyclone while it accelerated to the northeast late on September 16. Waves as high as 50 ft (15 m) were produced by the cyclone close to its core, according to the Ocean Prediction Center. The powerful extratropical cyclone lost its strength while it turned in a more eastward direction, before turning southeastward and eventually southward on September 18. During when, the NHC began to monitor it for possible regeneration. The low gradually lost its frontal features as it continued moving southwards on September 19 while convection near the center became less sporadic and organized. By 18:00 UTC on September 20, Paulette had regenerated into a fully tropical storm about 200 nmi (230 mi; 370 km) south-southwest of the Azores in the Eastern Atlantic Ocean. More ridging occurred to the north of the newly-regenerated system, causing Paulette to abruptly turn eastward. Deep convection continued to occur near the center of the storm as it drifted eastward and obtained an eye-like feature, where it reached its third and final peak intensity with winds of 60 mph (97 km/h) and a minimum central pressure of 1,002 millibars (29.6 inHg) at 06:00 UTC on September 22. However, very shortly afterwards, cool sea surface temperatures and increasing wind shear took a toll on the system and its thunderstorms began to wane; thus, Paulette became a post-tropical cyclone yet again at 12:00 UTC that day.
Paulette, as a post-tropical cyclone, interacted with the baroclinic zone yet again which helped the low strengthen slightly on September 23. However, Paulette weakened yet again as the zone itself weakened on September 24. Paulette took a slight turn to the southwest, then the west, as high pressure began to build to the north throughout September 25–26. Dry air and cool sea surface temperatures continued to cause the remnant low's circulation to erode before it turned to the northwest and later took a sudden bend to the northeast, circling a high-pressure system. By 18:00 UTC on September 28, Paulette had dissipated and became a surface trough just southwest of the Azores.
Preparations and impact
The approach of Paulette prompted the Bermuda Weather Service (BWS) to issue a tropical storm watch at 03:00 UTC on September 12. This was upgraded to a tropical storm warning and hurricane watch at 09:00 UTC before a hurricane warning was issued at 15:00 UTC. The island's main airport, L.F. Wade International Airport, ceased operation throughout September 13–15, while government offices and public schools were closed nationally. Multiple observing stations in Bermuda started reporting tropical storm-force wind gusts beginning at 23:00 UTC on September 13 with sustained tropical storm-force winds coming soon after. Early on September 14, a wind gust of 117 mph (189 km/h) was measured at the Marine Operations Center (MAROPS), which is elevated at 290 ft above sea level. This came just over an hour after an island-wide power outage affected all of Bermuda, including the BWS, with only cell phone service remaining active. This led to an estimated 22,847 people losing electrical service. Despite COVID-19 concerns, 50 people decided to seek refuge in the Cedarbridge Academy building as Paulette passed over the island. The hurricane's eye was so clear during its nighttime landfall that, when it passed over the island, one resident reported he could see stars and planets in the sky.
The collaboration between the BWS and U.S National Hurricane Center (NHC) was the first in which the NHC provided detailed hourly intensity estimates and forecasts based off of radar images and other weather data provided by the BWS, prior to the radar going offline as the storm's eyewall came ashore. A storm surge of 2.38 ft (0.73 m) above normal tide was recorded by a U.S National Ocean Service (NOS) station in Eastern Bermuda, while a maximum official rainfall total of 2.91 in (94 mm) fell at the Bermuda Weather Service office. By September 17, 250 customers still remained without power on the island. The commercial fishing industry in Bermuda came to a stand-still as Hurricane Paulette, and Hurricane Teddy a week later, impacted the island back-to-back. Paulette and Teddy were also responsible for flooding and coastal erosion impacting several of Bermuda's nature reserves, such as on Coopers Island Nature Reserve or Spittal Pond Nature Reserve. Several islands of Castle Harbour sustained significant erosion on cliffs and caused some of the fortified walls to collapse, due to the heavy surf. Residents reported their homes had sustained some damage, but such infrastructural damage was rather minimal, since structures on Bermuda have been built to withstand high wind speeds and other severe weather events which frequently occur on the island. There were no reported casualties or otherwise serious property damage in Bermuda, but many trees and other debris were lofted, blocking roads.
Following the storm, Royal Bermuda Regiment soldiers were deployed to assess damage, clear roads, and provide assistance to effected locals. Bermuda Minister of National Security Renée Ming and Bermuda Premier David Burt appraised the Bermuda Electric Light Company (BELCO) crews who quickly restored electricity for thousands of customers and expressed gratefulness for the lack of damage, due to appropriate preparations for the hurricane, who the latter described as a 'remarkable achievement'. Overall, damage in Bermuda was estimated at US$50 million.
In the United States, swells as high as 10 ft (3 m) affected the East Coast on September 15 and prompted the issuance of several high surf advisories along the coastline. Despite these warnings of high rip current risk by the National Weather Service, a 60-year-old man and his 24 year-old son decided to go swimming in Lavallette, New Jersey and were subsequently caught in a rip current generated by Paulette; the 60 year-old man ultimately did not survive after both of them were rescued. In Folly Beach, South Carolina, a woman and two children were caught in a rip current. One of the children, a six year-old boy, died at a hospital after being rescued, while the woman sustained minor injuries and was taken to the hospital. The eight year-old child was evaluated, but not hospitalized.
After degenerating into a post-tropical cyclone for the second time, the cyclone led to the issuance of yellow alerts across the Eastern Group and the Central Group of the islands on September 26. Initially, there were also forecasts of Paulette bringing heavy rainfall to Flores and Corvo. Nonetheless, Paulette briefly caused thunderstorms on Santa Maria Island in the Azores before dissipating prior to impacting any other portions of the country.
- Tropical cyclones in 2020
- List of Category 2 Atlantic hurricanes
- List of Bermuda hurricanes
- Hurricane Fabian (2003) – Made a direct hit on Bermuda as a Category 3 hurricane, causing heavy damage
- Hurricane Igor (2010) – A large hurricane that passed close to Bermuda as a Category 1, causing minor damage
- Hurricanes Fay and Gonzalo (2014) – Two hurricanes that made landfalls on Bermuda a week apart
- Hurricane Nicole (2016) – Made a direct hit on Bermuda as a Category 3 hurricane, bringing moderate damage
- Hurricane Teddy (2020) – Another hurricane of the same year that also impacted Bermuda
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- This page is based on the Wikipedia article Hurricane Paulette; it is used under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License (CC-BY-SA). You may redistribute it, verbatim or modified, providing that you comply with the terms of the CC-BY-SA.