Friday, September 6, 2013

Fizzling Gabrielle continues a quiet hurricane season - at least so far

Curtis Morgan in the Miami Herald: Tropical Storm Gabrielle lasted all of 12 hours before largely fizzling on Thursday, the latest in a welcome but entirely unexpected string of duds fired out by the tropics. Hurricane season 2013, approaching the historic peak of activity early next week, has produced zero actual hurricanes so far.

If that trend continues another week — and it could with the National Hurricane Center monitoring four iffy systems — it would mark the quietest start to the Atlantic hurricane season in nearly a half-century. Since 1967 and the dawn of satellite tracking, the latest date for a first hurricane to form was Gustav on Sept. 11, 2002.

“We’ve had seven named storms but they’ve been little, very weak systems, really nothing,” said William Gray, a Colorado State University climatologist who pioneered the science of seasonal hurricane forecasting.

Those pre-season projections have become increasingly accurate but they have missed the mark to date. Gray and colleague Phil Klotzbach had forecast 18 named storms with nine hurricanes and four major storms this year. A host of university and government experts had expected roughly similar numbers and another active season.

...The most obvious X factor this year appears to be dry air, a combination of dust clouds swirling from Africa’s Sahara Desert and dry, sinking air over the open Atlantic, said NHC spokesman Dennis Feltgen. Tropical Storms Chantal, Dorian and Erin all passed through it, emerging gasping for life...

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