MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Do you remember when we had five named storms at once in the Atlantic? It was only the second time on record that there had been that many storms in the Atlantic at once. One of those storms was Paulette and Paulette would be known as the first zombie storm.
Hurricane Paulette made landfall in Bermuda as a Category 1 and strengthened to a Category 2 over the island on September 14. Not longer after it struck Bermuda, the storm reached category two status. Shortly after that, the environment surrounding the storm changed and the storm lost speed and lost its tropical storm status. It was was downgraded to a post-tropical low-pressure system which is usually the end to most storms but it’s 2020.
The remnants of Paulette some how held together and intensified back to tropical storm status approximately 300 miles off the coast of the Azores Islands, Portugal. This is rare, that this happened but not the first time a storm has spun back to life. It is is the first time, it was named a zombie storm by the National Weather Service. The last time we had a "zombie storm was in 2004 with Hurricane Ivan. I van came ashore near Gulf Shores, Alabama, and caused a lot of damage and deaths for some of the Gulf states. After that, Ivan moved back into the Atlantic and was downgraded to a tropical depression, Ivan regained strength and reached tropical storm strength before moving across Florida and into the Gulf of Mexico. It made a second landfall but this time it was over the extreme southwestern tip of Louisiana as a tropical depression.
The reason Paulette was able to strengthen a second time was the above average sea surface temperatures. Tropical systems are able to gain energy through warm waters. Normally, sea surface temperatures of more than 80F allows for tropical development. Once water temperatures fall below 77F, it is tougher for systems to maintain strength. The warmer sea surface temperatures near Portugal, Paulette was able to regain tropical storm strength.