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Submitted by Tim Buckley on Wed, 08/10/2011 - 8:49am.
Buckle your seatbelts! The last two months have been our hurricane season "in name only", now the real action begins. Even though there are no named systems in the Atlantic as I'm writing this -- Mother Nature is about to flip a switch and signal all systems go for the 2011 Hurricane Season.
Looking out to sea, the ocean is still quiet, for the most part. The Gulf and Caribbean are clear as a bell, but if you head out to the African Coast - you finally start to see some activity. The train of tropical waves is beginning to set up as it does each year around this time. This is when we start to see one system after another coming off the coast, blowing up into a cluster of thunderstorms and eventually forming into a tropical system, some of which can come get us here in North Carolina.
Right now, we're watching a fairly strong tropical wave pass just west of the Cape Verde Islands. This area of thunderstorms looks like it will at least turn into a depression in the next couple of days, and then possibly more after that. Many of our hurricane models turn this into a potent storm during the next week as it makes the long journey across the Atlantic.
Looking at some of the "its way too early to track this storm" tracks, many of them are curving whatever forms out of this wave out to sea and away from the East Coast. Given the way the sub-tropical ridge is right now, that would make some sense. But this is just the first system.
After this wave, there are many more lining up on the African continent getting ready to parade across the ocean one by one. In a way, this is exactly how last season played out. Things were dead quiet up until early August, when the Cape Verde storms started forming one by one - sometimes as many as four at a time.
Forecasts like this looking at storms over a week out are just speculative, or as I call it "fantasy land". But, it's not too much of a stretch to say that we're seeing a pattern change here. We're going to go from no activity off the African coast, to plenty of it - and that should last well into September.
The problem for us is - once these storms start to form way out to sea, they have a huge area of warm water to strengthen into monster hurricanes before they approach the East Coast. Especially with the warmth of the water right now (80's all the way across the Atlantic) we should get ready for a strong period of storms. We dodged a lot of bullets last year, it's hard to say if we'll be so lucky this time.
Bottom line is -- get ready now, our season will be ramping up in a hurry. Make sure that hurricane kit is ready to go, just in case the big one comes to town.
That's all for now. Get ready for an interesting few months!
By: Tim Buckley