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BY GEORGE: Where's the Hurricanes?
Submitted by George Elliott on Sat, 09/14/2013 - 6:57am.
Even though the total number of named storms this hurricane season has been average, (nine as of mid-September…the statistical peak of hurricane season), the season seems very, very quiet. And really, in reality, most of the named storms were either brief, and/or nothing more than open water storms. Humberto has been the only named hurricane, and that was an open eastern Atlantic storm with no chance of long term survival or interaction with any land masses. As a matter of fact, hurricane Humberto was the latest formed named hurricane since the advent of sophisticated monitoring of the globe by way of satellite technology.
What in the heck is going on? For one thing, there’s been an abundance of drier air across the Atlantic Basin this year, making the region much more stable than usual, and definitely something that works against the development of significant storms. Also, there has been an unusually greater area in the atmosphere that’s had significant wind shear this year. Wind shear occurs when winds from different directions, and/or different wind speeds, occur as you go up into the atmosphere. This serves to disrupt the vertical environment in which tropical systems form. Tropical systems require a stable wind pattern through great depths in order to organize and intensify. Some experts also say that due to very dry weather over western Africa, the excessive dust from the region that has been observed over the eastern Atlantic could be supressing storm development due to reduced atmospheric and ocean heating over the area. Some scientists also note that the drought over Brazil may be playing a role.
There’s been no El Nino, in which unusually warm eastern Pacific water develops. It is pretty well confirmed that El Nino years are years with reduced hurricane activity in the Atlantic Basin. At the same time, there isn’t a strong La Nina (the opposite of El Nino) either. It’s been pretty much neutral in-so-far as eastern Pacific water temperatures are concerned.
The Atlantic waters overall are warmer than normal, so one would have thought things might have been busier. But, it appears that storms are having trouble getting to the stage and location of being able to stay viable. In addition, the circulation over North America has been active, sending many fronts and their associated upper-level jet streams across the country on a regular basis. This could serve as a sort of “block” to tropical storms or hurricanes that do form from hitting the east coast of the U.S. if the timing is right to steer the potential storms away. Any storms that development in the Gulf Of Mexico would not be as impacted by these jet streams and cold fronts, but even there things have been quiet.
Let’s face it, however, no one is complaining, but plenty are curious. Even though the total number of storms that have and are likely to form will make the forecast seem o.k., the storms thus far have been immaterial, and the number of hurricanes versus the early outlook a bust. However, this is a bust we can all live with.
By: George Elliott