National Hurricane Center analysis shows a lack of tropical cyclone activity in the Atlantic Basin.
Things are pleasantly quiet in the Atlantic Ocean these days.
There has not been a named storm in the Atlantic tropical cyclone season so far in 2009. That marks the latest start to the season since 1992. In that year, Tropical Storm Andrew formed on August 16th, the latest date for a named storm. Last year Tropical Storm Arthur was churning by the last days of May.
A new forecast for the Atlantic hurricane season this week from the team at Colorado State University again lowers the numbers of storms expected this year. Dr. Bill Gray and Dr. Phillip Klotzbach are now predicting 10 named Atlantic storms. That’s down from 14 named storms in the initial forecast issued last December. The CSU team is predicting 4 hurricanes in the Atlantic this year with just 2 becoming major hurricanes.
The CSU forecast cites the rapid development of El Nino in the Pacific Ocean as the primary reason for reducing the forecast numbers. Stronger westerly winds aloft in El Nino years create unfavorable wind shear for tropical cyclone development in the Atlantic.
Gray and Klotzbach also warn that even though this may be a “down” year for hurricanes, we remain in an active multi-decadal hurricane phase that will last another 10 to 15 years.
British forecast firm Tropical Risk Inc. has a different take on the coming Atlantic hurricane season. They cite warmer than average ocean temperatures in the Atlantic as the reason they are increasing their forecast numbers. TRI’s updated forecast calls for 12.6 named storms, 6.5 hurricanes and about 3 major hurricanes.
These forecasts have shown some skill over the past few years. There have also been some big misses. In 2005, nobody came close to predicting the record 28 named storms that churned in the Atlantic and battered the U.S. coastline.
Even though 2009 is off to a quiet start, things can still get busy in a hurry. Hurricane activity peaks around September 10th.
Even one strong hurricane making landfall in the U.S. can leave a lasting impression.