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The 2013 hurricane season: slow, so far

2:01 PM, Aug 29, 2013   |    comments
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Recently, a viewer asked me if the forecast for this year's Tropical season was going to be updated to reflect the fact that it's been a slow year in the tropics thus far. NOAA's prediction for 13-19 tropical systems this year might sound high, since we haven't felt the impact of a tropical storm or hurricane in the United States since the first one, Tropical Storm Andrea, made landfall in early June. That said, there have been six named storms so far in the Atlantic Basin in 2013. Last year at this point in the season, we'd had seven named storms. By the end of the year, there were 19 tropical storms and hurricanes on the books, including the most infamous from last year, Sandy. 

As the summer season winds down, hurricane season usually heats up. Believe it or not, the peak of hurricane season is right around Labor Day! This graph shows very clearly how the number of hurricanes peaks in early September: 

Courtesy of NOAA (National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration)

The map below shows the point of tropical storm formation for all cyclones between 1859-2009 in the first 10 days of September (typically, this includes all of Labor Day weekend). 

Courtesy of the NHC (National Hurricane Center)

As we head into the fall, the water in the Atlantic will slowly cool, and the number of potential storms will start declining. The map of tropical storm formation for October 1st-10th looks vastly different, with far fewer storms in the open waters off the coast of Africa, but more storms in the warm, shallow waters of the Caribbean: 

Courtesy of the NHC (National Hurricane Center)

So, this is the time of year when we expect to see tropical systems popping up in the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of western Africa. Lo and behold, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) says that there are two areas of potential development that they're keeping an eye on. 

Courtesy of the NHC (National Hurricane Center)

The yellow shaded area has a 10% potential for becoming a tropical storm in 48 hours, and the orange area has a 30% potential of formation in the same 48-hour period. The Atlantic Basin is starting to get more active, right on cue with climatology. So, even though the season has gotten off to a somewhat slow start, we need to remember that it is far from over! 


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