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Weather forecasting and analysis, space and historic events, climate information

1:10 PM | Atlantic tropical season about to get underway

Paul Dorian


The 2013 Atlantic tropical season officially begins this Saturday, June 1st, and continues until November 30th. Of course, this timetable is a “man-made” one and Mother Nature can begin and end any time she wants to with respect to the formation of Atlantic tropical storms, but all-in-all, these are pretty reasonable choices for the beginning and end dates of the tropical season based on historical data.

Fortunately, it has been nearly 8 years since a major hurricane (i.e., category 3, 4 or 5) has struck the US which is the longest such period since the Civil War. In fact, Hurricane Wilma was the last major hurricane to hit the US back in October of 2005, the year that was the most active Atlantic hurricane season in recorded history and featured seven major hurricanes. Unfortunately, 2013 promises to be an active tropical season and the US east coast is vulnerable to a major hurricane hit based on some similarities in oceanic temperature patterns to analog years that were very active along the coast. Specifically, the current sea surface temperature anomalies in the northern Pacific (cold phase, negative Pacific Decadal Oscillation) and northern Atlantic (warm phase, positive Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation) resemble closely many of the years in the decade of the 1950’s and there were numerous major hurricane hits during that time period. For example, in just the time between August 1954 and September 1955, there were five major hurricanes that struck the US east coast – Carol, Edna, Hazel, Connie and Ione. This certainly raises a red flag of warning along the east coast for the upcoming tropical season, and perhaps for the next few years as well.

I believe that the tropical season has a good chance of getting underway fairly quickly during the month of June – perhaps even as early as next week there could be some activity in the Caribbean Sea. Sea surface temperatures continue to be largely above normal across much of the tropical Atlantic and this is a primary cause of concern for an active season. (For more details on the tropical and Mid-Atlantic summertime outlooks and a comprehensive video discussion go to "Seasonal Forecasts" on the right panel).

Here is a list of the names for the 2013 tropical season (some interesting names on the list including the one for the 4th storm):

Andrea Barry Chantal Dorian Erin Fernand Gabrielle Humberto Ingrid Jerry Karen Lorenzo Melissa Nestor Olga Pablo Rebekah Sebastien Tanya Van Wendy