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Sputtering Atlantic Hurricane Season Start Is Typical

August 11, 2009

By WeatherBug Sr. Meteorologist, James West

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The first 10 weeks of the Atlantic Hurricane Season has started off quietly, but coastal residents should not let down their guard just yet. The peak of the hurricane season is just right around the corner and hurricanes are still possible.

So far this season, there has been only two tropical depression and no named storms to form in the Atlantic Basin of the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico and tropical Atlantic. However, the slow start is not unusual through the first two months of the Atlantic hurricane season, when only one to two storms usually form.

The peak of the hurricane season is still to come, with the most powerful hurricanes usually occurring in a 10-week span running from the middle of August through late October. This is the time when the water temperature in the tropical Atlantic, Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico and the energy that drives tropical cyclone development reaches its highest levels.

A silver lining for coastal residents fatigued by the last several years of destructive strong hurricanes may be the developing El Nino occurring over the eastern Pacific Ocean off the South America`s equatorial coast. This periodic warming of a large pocket of ocean water can change the typical Atlantic weather pattern. Resulting increased wind shear, or changing wind direction and speed throughout the atmosphere, often limits tropical development.

Seasons with El Nino historically see fewer storms than years without. Even so, hurricanes are possible in El Nino years, even destructive ones. Hurricane Andrew, which caused billions of dollars in damage in 1992, developed in a year with a strong El Nino. Other El Nino years like 2004 saw above-normal activity.

Residents living along the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Coast should not let their guard down and be prepared if and when a tropical system forms this year.

Check your WeatherBug often for the latest tropical developments.

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