As Mid-August Approaches, Where Are All the Atlantic Hurricanes?

By Brian K. Sullivan | August 13, 2014

It’s almost the middle of August, and the Pacific has been cranking out hurricanes and typhoons all over the place.

So, what’s with the Atlantic?

After just about two and half months, hurricanes Arthur and Bertha are all the Atlantic has managed to come up with.

While it may seem as though the Atlantic is failing to keep up with the larger ocean, the basin is pretty much on pace in terms of the long-term average.

The Atlantic can usually be expected to produce its third storm of the season, which began June 1, by today, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami.

Of course, if the recent past is considered, the Atlantic looks almost anemic.

By Aug. 13 of last year, the Atlantic had already knocked off four named storms. Six had formed by this time in 2012 and six in 2011.

It often happens that when the Pacific is having a particularly active year, the Atlantic doesn’t do very much.

Part of the reason is El Nino. While the weather-changing event, most readily identified by a warming of the waters in the equatorial Pacific, hasn’t officially developed, the sea surface temperatures there have bobbed a little above normal for weeks at a time during the past few months.

Pacific Warmth
Warmer waters in the Pacific tend to boost the number of hurricanes that form on the eastern side of the ocean near the U.S. and Mexico and give typhoons closer to Asia longer lifespans, said Phil Klotzbach, lead author of Colorado State University’s seasonal hurricane forecast.

The Eastern Pacific hurricane season, which started May 15, has produced 10 storms and shows no sign of letting up. It usually takes until Sept. 1 to hit that mark, and the 30-year average for the entire season is 15, according to the center in Miami.

The western Pacific has had 13 named storms, including Genevieve, which got itself counted as both a hurricane and a typhoon after it crossed the International Dateline.

So, is the Atlantic just returning to its normal pace after having a few spectacular years? Or is it going to be a lackluster season across the basin?

Time will tell.
The number of storms won’t matter if a really powerful one develops and causes a lot of damage. Hurricane Andrew did that in 1992, a year when the Atlantic only produced six storms.

Thus proving there is a difference between an active season and a devastating one.

 

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