Heart of Atlantic Hurricane Season Starts as Storms Seem Dubious

Aug 19, 2014 8:07 am ET

(For more Weather Line insights, see NI WEALINE<GO>.)

Aug. 19 (Bloomberg) -- The official start of the most active part of the Atlantic hurricane arrives tomorrow with more of a whimper than a bang.

If tradition holds, William Gray, who pioneered seasonal hurricane forecasting more than three decades ago, will ring a bell in the halls of Colorado State University in Fort Collins to remind researchers of the date.

They might need the reminder. The Atlantic has been in a stupor since Hurricane Bertha churned a harmless path across the basin earlier this month. Colorado State predicts a below- average chance of a storm getting going during the next week.

In Miami, the National Hurricane Center is watching tropical waves meander across the Atlantic. As of today, the center gave two weak systems a 20 percent chance of developing into at least tropical depressions through the next five days.

The leading system is encountering wind shear and dry air, two things that can squash a budding tropical storm, Jeff Masters, co-founder of Weather Underground in Ann Arbor, Michigan wrote in his blog.

Its chances may improve later this week as it gets away from the dry air and encounters warmer ocean waters around the Lesser Antilles, Masters wrote.

No Expectations

It’s important to note that no one should extrapolate any meaning for the rest of the season out of this week.

The chances are good the Atlantic will produce something in the next six weeks, and it will do so in a patch of water known as the Main Development Region.

That’s an area that stretches from the Windward and Leeward islands in the Caribbean to the Cape Verde Islands off the coast of Africa. The next six weeks are when the region becomes the center stage for hurricane development, and that’s also where some of the biggest storms form.

About 85 percent of all major hurricanes, those Category 3 or greater on the five-step Saffir-Simpson Scale, are born out there, according to research by Chris Landsea, science and operations officer at the National Hurricane Center.

So far, North America has been pretty lucky, if one believes in such things, that a week in the most active part of the hurricane season has turned out to be pretty tame.