Despite Active Start, Tropics Have Been Quiet

 – July has proven to be a quiet month in the tropics.

 – No storms expected in the next five days

 – Three times as many storms typically form in August

 

Busy Early, Quiet Since

Four named storms, including one hurricane, have already come and gone.  Two of these occurred before the 2016 Atlantic Hurricane Season officially began. Tropical Storm Danielle dissipated over Mexico on June 21st, and there hasn’t been even the hint of development since.  Despite this long stretch of inactivity, the season has already proven to be more active than usual to date.  During a typical year, the first named storm doesn’t develop until July 9th and the first hurricane August 10th.

 

The Quiet Continues

No new storm formation is anticipated over the next week. A strong ridge of high pressure, coupled with a large region of dry air, is dominating the Atlantic waters from west Africa to The Bahamas. This prevents thunderstorms from developing and tropical waves cannot mature into an organized system or storm.

 

TropicalOutlook-FPBS

 

This same ridge has extended as far west as the Gulf of Mexico recently, and has been largely responsible for our recent stretch of very warm weather in Florida. There is no sign of a major change to this pattern through the end of the month.  However, July isn’t over and climatology tells us that one storm does form this month on average.

 

Around the Corner

The busiest months of the hurricane season are right around the corner. According to data collected by the National Hurricane Center since the late 1800’s, nearly three times as many tropical cyclones develop in August compared to June. The peak of the season, with regards to frequency of storm formation and strength is in early September.

 

Storm Frequency-FPBS

 

In recent weeks, sea surface temperatures have warmed to “favorable” levels in the Central Atlantic.  Our eyes will not only be peeled to the Gulf and Caribbean waters, but also further east over the Main Development Region (or MDR) of the Atlantic Ocean.  This is where tropical cyclones typically form from African-born waves that move west of the Cape Verde Islands.

 

Storm Origins

 

Atmospheric conditions over the past two years have proven unfavorable for tropical cyclone development over a large portion of the Caribbean or Western Atlantic. This can be largely attributed to the El Nino of 2015-16 that typically produces higher amounts of wind shear in these regions. Wind shear creates a hostile environment that makes it difficult for a tropical storm or hurricane to develop or survive.
Contrary to an El Nino, the opposite phenomenon – La Nina – is forecast to develop later this fall. This can sometimes make conditions across the Tropical Atlantic more favorable for cyclone formation. It remains to be seen whether or not this weather cycle will lead to above normal activity or not. Forecasts for the season at large have generally been for a “near normal” year that includes a ballpark of 12 named storms, six hurricanes, and two major hurricanes.  The 2016 Hurricane Season ends on November 30.