Hurricane season: Zero and counting, with Humberto threatening to cross threshold
WASHINGTON — After a couple of years of wild, deadly and costly weather, the nation is mostly getting a lucky break this year.
With summer almost over, not a single hurricane has formed. Tornado activity is down around record lows, while heat waves are fewer and milder than last year, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Meteorologists credit luck, shifts in the high-altitude jet stream and African winds and dust.
“It's been great,” said Deke Arndt, climate monitoring chief for NOAA's National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C.
There have been eight tropical storms in the Atlantic. Not one has reached the 74 mph wind threshold to become a hurricane, though Tropical Storm Humberto off the coast of Africa is likely to become one soon.
If Humberto stays a tropical storm through 8 a.m. Wednesday, it will be the latest date for the first hurricane of the season since satellites started watching the seas in 1967, according to the National Hurricane Center.
This year, overall storm activity in the Atlantic — an index that combines number and strength — is about one-fifth the average. That's despite warmer-than-normal seas, which usually fuel storms.
It has been a record of nearly eight years since a major hurricane — one with winds of 110 mph — blew ashore in the United States. That was Hurricane Wilma, which hit Florida in October 2005.
Meteorologists say dry, stable and at times dusty air blowing from Africa is choking storms instead of allowing them to grow. On top of that, shifts in the jet stream — the same river of air some blame for wild weather in 2011 and 2012 — have caused dry air and wind shear, which interfere with storm formation, said Gerry Bell of NOAA's Climate Prediction Center.
Plain, old random chance is a big factor, said MIT meteorology professor Kerry Emanuel.
Several past seasons have started off slowly and ended busy and deadly — 1967, 1984, 1988, 1994 and 2002, said Ryan Maue, a meteorologist with Weather Bell. Hurricane season starts in June and runs through November.
“All it takes is one bad hurricane to ruin an otherwise quiet hurricane season,” said Weather Underground meteorology director Jeff Masters. “Recall that last year's worst storm — Hurricane Sandy — didn't occur until the third week of October.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Warning about cop-killer came moments too late
- IBM’s Watson supercomputing system to be applied to PTSD
- Gray wolf decision reversed
- Document hunt to begin for illegals who need proof of residency since 2010 for permit, reprieve
- Poor morale, training in Air Force ICBM program spur questions about usefulness as nuclear deterrent
- Cat saved from California storm drain after 2 weeks
- 3-D printed prosthetics give dog ability to run
- N.Y. reports crime decrease, credits ‘broken windows’
- Teenager who attacked California Highway Patrol officer with machete shot, killed
- 4 Afghans freed from Guantanamo
- Killer of New York police officers angry over Garner chokehold death, officials say