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

1:00 PM | Historically quiet first half of the Atlantic tropical season may gets its first hurricane later today

Paul Dorian

tropicsInfrared satellite image of the tropics (courtesy of Wisconsin-SSEC)

Discussion

The climatological peak of the Atlantic tropical season happens to fall on today’s date, September 10th, and yet we have not had a single hurricane so far this year in the Atlantic Basin – but that could change as soon as later today. Currently, there are three areas of interest in the Atlantic Basin with two named tropical storms, Gabrielle in the western Atlantic and Humberto in the eastern Atlantic, and a third area in the western Caribbean that could become named during the next few days. Humberto is the strongest of the three systems and it could very well become a hurricane later today or tonight. Humberto’s latest measured sustained winds are at 65 mph with gusts to 75 mph – not far at all from the required 74+ mph needed for attaining official hurricane status.

Whether or not Humberto reaches hurricane status later today or tonight, the first half of this season has already made its mark as one of the least active periods on record. In fact, going back to the mid 1940’s when hurricanes hunters began to fly, there has been only one hurricane season in the Atlantic Basin that made it to the halfway point (September 10th) without a single hurricane and that was in the year 2002 when Gustav became a hurricane on September 11th. According to the National Hurricane Center, August 10th is the average date for the first Atlantic hurricane and typically there are three hurricanes by the mid-way point of the tropical season. An average season brings six hurricanes in the Atlantic of which two typically reach major hurricane status (i.e., category 3, 4 or 5). Going farther back, there were two years that had no reports of hurricanes in the Atlantic – 1907 and 1914. However, it is important to note that storms may have gone undetected back then without the aid of weather satellites.

The two tropical storms in the Atlantic, Gabrielle and Humberto, will stay over water for the next several days. Gabrielle will head northward affecting Bermuda later today and then the Atlantic Provinces of Canada this weekend. The western Caribbean disturbance may indeed develop into Tropical Storm Ingrid over the next few days as it heads out over the Gulf of Mexico - likely on its way towards South Texas and northeastern Mexico.

One word of caution, although the first half of this tropical season has been very quiet relatively speaking, the second half is usually more active than the first half. According to NOAA, there have been 645 hurricanes during the months of September, October and November as compare to 321 hurricanes during June, July and August.

humberto GOES visible satellite image of Tropical Storm Humberto in the eastern Atlantic (courtesy NOAA)