Many of you may recall that this year’s hurricane season was predicted to be more active than normal. Well, it has turned out to be something of a dud as far as hurricane activity in the Atlantic is concerned.
As the season heads into the historic peak of activity, the start of the season may enter the record books as the quietest start to any Atlantic hurricane season in decades.
“It certainly looks like pretty much of a forecast bust,” said Jeff Masters, a hurricane expert and director of meteorology at the Weather Underground.
“Virtually all the (forecast) groups were calling for above-normal hurricanes and intensive hurricanes and we haven’t even had a hurricane at all, with the season half over,” he said.
With records going back to 1851, Dennis Feltgen, a spokesman for the U.S. National Hurricane Center, said there had been only 17 years when the first Atlantic hurricane formed after September 4.
In an average season the first hurricane shows up by August 10, usually followed by a second hurricane on August 28 and the first major hurricane by September 4.
Since the dawn of the satellite era in the mid-1960s, Feltgen said the latest date for the first hurricane to arrive was set by Gustav when it made its debut on September 11, 2002.
Nine named storms have been spawned by the 2013 season so far, including Fernand, which killed 13 people in central Mexico late last month.
Most of the storms have been small, weak systems, however, proving an embarrassment to experts who had predicted an active season in reports that are eagerly awaited y the insurance and energy industries.
“Statistical models can generally reasonably well replicate hurricane activity…but there are always going to be years when you bust,” said Phil Klotzbach, a Colorado State University climatologist who heads a team that issues one of the most closely watched long-range hurricane forecasts.
Colorado State University slightly lowered its seasonal forecast on August 2. But it still said 2013 would see above-average activity, with eight hurricanes and three that develop into major hurricanes of Category 3 or higher on the five-step Saffir-Simpson intensity scale.
Other prominent forecasts, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), were predicting an “above normal” season last month. An average season has six hurricanes.
Feltgen cautioned it was still too early to write off 2013 as a year when tropical weather unpredictable.
“We are at mid-point of the six-month hurricane season,” he said. “It is a mistake to believe that the second half of the season would resemble the first half.”
The first hurricane in 2001, Erin, only formed on September 9, Feltgen said. “That season ended with 15 named storms including nine hurricanes, four of which became major hurricanes.”