Randy Mann: Few tropical storms, hurricanes defied forecast
The 2013 tropical storm and hurricane season ends Nov. 30.
Over the past three decades, the Atlantic and Caribbean waters have averaged about 11 named storms. Usually six become hurricanes and two or three are Category 3 or higher.
For the 2013 season, there have been 11 named storms, including two hurricanes – Humberto and Ingrid. Neither reached Category 3 status. Since 1960, when satellites were used to track tropical storms and hurricanes, there have been only four years with no major hurricanes.
The last time the Atlantic and Caribbean waters did not have a major hurricane was 1994. That season recorded only seven named storms and three hurricanes.
Although the season isn’t over, the chances of a major hurricane developing are relatively small. Most of the major storms develop in August and September. Since 1851, a total of 53 hurricanes have hit the U.S. in October with only three in November. The last big storm to hit the U.S. so late in the season was Hurricane Kate back in 1985, which came onshore a week before Thanksgiving. During the record-breaking season in 2005, which had 28 named storms, Hurricane Wilma, the 13th hurricane and sixth major one of that season, made landfall on the Yucatan Peninsula on Oct. 20 and 21. Then, Wilma moved into the Gulf of Mexico and made landfall again in southern Florida on Oct. 24.
Many scientists believed that the 2013 tropical storm and hurricane season was going to be very active. We had a weak La Niña sea-surface temperature event, rather than the wind-sheering El Niño, in the waters of the south-central Pacific Ocean. During weak-to-moderate La Niñas, we often see a higher number of tropical storms and hurricanes.
For this season, the position of the Bermuda High off the eastern coast of the United States positioned itself to pump in much drier air from the Sahara Desert over the Atlantic Ocean. Dry air from the extreme drought in Brazil may have also contributed to the decreased activity.
In terms of our local weather, the high pressure system that has kept us dry and relatively mild will hold on into at least the first few days of November. However, it looks like we’ll start seeing some major changes as we get toward the second week of next month.