After an early start which produced 4 named storms through the month of June - the Atlantic hurricane season took the month of July off - choked by a combination of dry air, unfavorable winds, and Saharan dust.
In early August, Hurricane Earl briefly formed in the Caribbean, and lashed Belize, but the greater Atlantic - particularly the Cape Verde basin which spawns the biggest storms - has remained pretty quiet.
It's mid-August, and so that happy state of affairs may not last, as we are headed into the heart of the Atlantic hurricane season, and NOAA's Climate Prediction Center sees an active season still ahead.
First their announcement:
a. Predicted Activity
NOAA's updated 2016 Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook indicates an 85% chance that season will either be near-normal or above-normal. The outlook calls for a 50% chance of a near-season, a 35% chance of an above-normal season, and only a 15% chance of a below-normal season. See NOAA definitions of above-, near-, and below-normal seasons. The Atlantic hurricane region includes the North Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico.Compared to the pre-season outlook issued 27 May, the probability of either a near-normal or above-normal season has increased to 85% (compared to 75% in May), and the probability of a below-normal season has decreased to 15% (from 25% in May). The season is still expected to be the strongest since 2012.
This is a more challenging hurricane season outlook than most because it is difficult to determine whether there will be reinforcing or competing climate influences on tropical storm development. The outlook calls for a 70% probability for each of the following ranges of activity during the 2016 hurricane season:
- 12-17 Named Storms, which includes Alex in January
- 5-8 Hurricanes, which includes Alex in January
- 2-4 Major Hurricanes
- Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) range of 85%-150% of the median.
Assuming they are right, the next two months could be very busy indeed. None of this means the United States will take a major hit, but that possibility can't be discounted either.
Historically, the biggest, most long-lived hurricanes form in August and September, and there is literally no part of the Caribbean, Gulf Coast, or Atlantic seaboard that is immune.
So, if you haven’t already downloaded the updated Tropical Cyclone Preparedness Guide, now would be an excellent time to do so. You'll find additional preparedness information in my Hurricane Preparedness 2016 post from last May.
When it comes to getting the latest information on hurricanes, your first stop should always be the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida. These are the real experts, and the only ones you should rely on to track and forecast the storm.
And if you are on Twitter, you'll want to follow @FEMA, @CraigatFEMA, @NHC_Atlantic, @NHC_Pacific and @ReadyGov.
And a reminder, throughout the entire month of September FEMA, READY.GOV, state and local Emergency agencies, and grassroots coalition members will be promoting National Preparedness Month through community events, drills, and exercises and blogs like mine to encourage Americans to become better prepared to deal with all types of threats.