FLORIDA, United States, Tuesday November 22, 2016 – The depression that developed into Tropical Storm Otto yesterday afternoon and is building up to become a storm by later today, poses no threat to the Caribbean, forecasters say.
Otto became the 15th named storm of the 2016 Atlantic hurricane season – which ends on November 30 – in the southwest Caribbean Sea. At 10 a.m., it was about 320 miles east southeast of Bluefields, Nicaragua and 245 miles east of Limon, Costa Rica.
With maximum sustained winds near 70 miles per hour, it was this afternoon forecast to become an extremely rare late November hurricane landfall later in the day, threatening parts of Central America with flooding, mudslides and damaging winds this week.
A hurricane watch has been issued for Costa Rica and southern Nicaragua and a tropical storm warning is in effect for Panama, from Nargana to Colon. A tropical storm watch is also in effect from west of Colon, Panama to Costa Rica.
— NHC Atlantic Ops (@NHC_Atlantic) November 22, 2016
According to weather.com, November Atlantic Basin tropical cyclones aren’t all that unusual. In November, tropical cyclones typically form where the waters are warmest. Thus, one cluster of storms forming in November is in the western Caribbean Sea.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s best track database, only 18 storms of at least tropical storm strength had formed on or after November 21 dating to 1950.
The last to do so was Tropical Storm Olga in December 2007. In fact, it’s now been over 10 months between the season’s first named storm, the aforementioned Alex, and Otto.
If Otto becomes a hurricane, that would be even more rare on a couple of fronts. Only nine tropical cyclones became hurricanes in the Atlantic Basin after November 21 from 1950 through 2015. The last to do so was Epsilon in December 2005.
Only one of those nine hurricanes occurred in the southwest Caribbean Sea, Hurricane Martha in 1969.