Where did all the hurricanes go?

The 2013 Atlantic and East Pacific hurricane seasons left much to be desired, unless you live along the coast, in which case I should say, thankfully!  But, what happened?  There are a few different ideas floating around, but from what I could assess, it appears that the Atlantic in particular was very hostile this year.  There was an abundance of dry air aloft and near the surface due to subsiding air within a large central Atlantic ridge.  The dust that made so much news was more due to the larger scale system and wasn’t directly responsible for the total lack of significant activity.  So, how has the season looked?

The 2013 Atlantic Hurricane Season through September (courtesy of NHC)
The 2013 Atlantic Hurricane Season through September (courtesy of NHC)
The 2013 East Pacific Hurricane Season through September (courtesy of NHC)
The 2013 East Pacific Hurricane Season through September (courtesy of NHC)

The two tracking maps above detail the season through September.  The Atlantic has seen 10 tropical storms (before Karen) with two of those becoming Category 1 hurricanes (Humberto and Ingrid).  The East Pacific has been slightly more active with 13 tropical storms (before Narda) with six of them becoming hurricanes (nothing above Category 2).

The relative quiet is rather unprecedented, but more impressive is the lack of major hurricane landfalls in the U.S.  According to Brian McNoldy’s blog, we have gone 2,909 days (as of this post) since the U.S. has been hit by a Category 3 or stronger hurricane.  I know, Sandy was wild, but wasn’t technically deemed a hurricane at landfall (though did contain Category 1 winds).  When was the last major hurricane landfall?  Hurricane Wilma in 2005 (in southwest Florida)!

As of this writing, the Atlantic is quiet, but we do have two very powerful tropical cyclones on the globe.  Tropical Cyclone Phailin is officially classified at 135 knots (155 mph) in the Bay of Bengal according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC), yet the satellite representation looks stronger yet.  The cyclone is forecast to make landfall in eastern India on Saturday as a possible Category 5 cyclone (greater than 156 mph).  Ironically, prior to this storm, the North Indian Ocean had been very quiet this year.

Meteosat-7 RGB False Color animation of TC Phailin (155 mph). (Click to animate)
Meteosat-7 RGB False Color animation of TC Phailin (155 mph). (Click to animate)

The other strong tropical cyclone is Typhoon Nari in the West Pacific.  The current intensity from JTWC is 100 knots (115 mph or Category 3) and will be making landfall in Luzon, Philippines in the next few hours.  It seems all the big storms have been in this basin and that may continue as another storm (Wipha) forms east of Nari and strengthens to a Category 3 typhoon while recurving south and east of Japan.

MTSAT RGB False Color animation of Typhoon Nari (115 mph).  (Click image to animate)
MTSAT RGB False Color animation of Typhoon Nari (115 mph). (Click image to animate)

 

For those interested in weather state-side, the current nor’easter (with some input from what was Tropical Storm Karen) will continue to mill around the Mid-Atlantic for a couple more days.  Areas from Richmond up to NYC will see showery conditions the next 24-36 hours, but tapering down to pesky drizzle storms.  The winds will also start to relax during this time as the pressure gradient between the storm and strong high pressure over New England weakens.  The highest wind gusts along the NJ coast have been around 40-45 mph, while farther south there were gusts approaching 50-55 mph.  Coastal flooding will continue to be a threat for a couple more days.  The general wet pattern may not be done after this storm, but I’ll try to update later.

Thanks for reading!

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