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Quiet Hurricane Season . . . So Far

by Mario Gomez

Posted on August 3, 2009 at 10:37 AM

Updated Tuesday, Oct 27 at 11:12 AM


Things may be slow right now in the tropics but for how long ?

August is here and historically this is the beginning of the busiest part of the hurricane season. This time last year we where tracking tropical storm Edouard in the Caribbean. One year ago today five named storms had already formed compared to no storm formation this year. An average of two named storms formed in the last 120 Augusts on record. Since 1900 there has been only three times storms hadn't formed during the month of August. One of those years was 1997; a strong El Nino formed and most likely kept storms away. The 1997 hurricane season was one of the quietest seasons on record with only 7 named storms, 3 hurricanes and 1 major hurricane that year. During El Nino years warmer than normal water temperatures developed along the coast of Peru all the way west into the Pacific equatorial region. These warm waters disrupt global weather patterns. This in turn will cause stronger than normal upper troposphere winds in the tropical Pacific and tropical Atlantic. The intense winds shear off developing storms and hurricanes. The El Nino event of 1997 was exceptionally strong with Pacific water temperatures ten degrees above average. The El Nino of 1982 - 1983 was also strong with Pacific temperatures running six degrees above average. That year was also very quiet with only 5 named storms and 2 hurricanes. Unfortunely for Houston one of those hurricanes was Hurricane Alicia. The lesson here is that although El Nino disrupts the normal hurricane season, all it takes is just one hurricane in your back yard to elevate the threat. ELNINO_HIGHWINDSHEAR.JPG


This year the hurricane forecast team of Dr William Grey and Dr Phil Kloztback of Colorado State University have been scaling back their forecast due in large part to El Nino and cooler than normal North Atlantic water temperatures.


  • December 2008 14 named storms / 7 hurricanes

  • April 2009 12 named storms / 6 hurricanes

  • June 2009 11 named storms / 5 hurricanes

The forecast calls for a 28% chance of a hurricane making landfall along the gulf coast. This compares with an average of 30% during any given year. The forecast will be updated for one last time on August 4. Look for an update here when we get the latest numbers, but the trend is definitely downward.