As August begins, tropical activity likely to ramp up in weeks ahead
Most hurricanes happen in August, September, and October
RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - As August begins, the Atlantic hurricane season comes into focus, with tropical activity likely to ramp up as we get closer to climatological peak season in early September.
The season has been mostly quiet so far, which is to be expected based on historical climatology. June and July are usually relatively quiet in the tropics.
There have been four named storms so far this year in the Atlantic basin. Arlene, Bret, and Cindy were all tropical storms that developed in June. Hurricane Don developed in the North Atlantic in mid-July. None of those storms had a direct impact on the U.S.
82% of all tropical storms and hurricanes occur in the months of August, September, and October. Looking at the graph below, one can see how the frequency of tropical systems quickly ratchets up through the month of August.
Two competing factors make this year’s seasonal forecast challenging. El Niño tends to reduce the number of tropical systems in the Atlantic basin because of increased wind shear that tears tropical low pressure centers apart before they can strengthen.
On the other hand, Atlantic sea surface temperatures are running warmer than average. That means any lull in wind shear could allow tropical systems to strengthen into powerful hurricanes as a result of the very warm water temperatures.
The outlook for the number of tropical systems expected in the Atlantic in 2023 has increased slightly since the initial hurricane season forecasts came out at the start of hurricane season on June 1, but the forecast is a little different depending on which agency’s outlook you look at.
The United Kingdom Meteorological Office issued a new Atlantic hurricane season forecast on Aug. 1. Out of the three most well-renowned hurricane forecasting agencies, the U.K. met office predicts the most tropical activity this year. The U.K. office forecasts an above-average tropical storm and hurricane season with 19 named storms, nine hurricanes, and six major hurricanes.
It would be highly unusual for six major hurricanes (category 3 or higher) to occur in one season, but with water temperatures running above average throughout the Atlantic basin, it makes sense hurricanes could become more intense.
The hurricane experts at Colorado State University likewise increased their forecast to 18 named storms with nine hurricanes and four major hurricanes in their last update in early July. CSU is scheduled to release another seasonal forecast update on Aug. 3.
The NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) forecast calls for a near-average season with 12-17 named storms, five to nine hurricanes, and one to four major hurricanes.
We don’t yet know how many storms will impact land or the specific track of tropical systems that may develop in the coming weeks. Now is the time to prepare for any tropical storms or hurricanes that may impact Virginia later this summer or fall.
An emergency kit with non-perishable food, medications, and first aid items is good to have ready before a storm approaches.
Be sure to download the NBC12 First Alert Weather app for updates on any tropical systems that may come our way this year.
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