For the first time in several years, the start of hurricane season could arrive without any pre-season tropical systems in the Atlantic basin.
We are just a couple of weeks away from the official start of the Atlantic tropical season on June 1 and, fortunately, the long-range forecast models look very quiet.
After 30 named storms last year, it came as no surprise that Tropical Storm Arthur and Bertha kickstarted the season earlier than normal in May. In fact, each consecutive year over the past six hurricane seasons has started early.
The National Hurricane Center began issuing the tropical weather outlook forecasts two weeks early this year but no storms are likely to show up until after the official start.
Weather models indicate the tropical part of the Atlantic will stay quiet through the end of May. No storm tracks develop other than the non-tropical storms over the colder northern Atlantic.
“Named storms have formed prior to the official start of the hurricane season in about half of the past 10-15 years, including each of the past six years,” said Dennis Feltgen, communications and public affairs officer and meteorologist with the National Hurricane Center in Miami.
Storms in May and June typically develop around Florida but dry air in the mid-levels of the atmosphere is expected to suppress rain.
Another factor splashing cold water on preseason can be seen by the dust blowing off of west Africa which has covered the eastern Caribbean in hazy skies.
Saharan dust forms over the Sahara Desert during late spring, summer and early fall but this plume is about a month earlier than the typical mid-June ramp up.
Dust typically subsides after mid-August in time for the most active part of hurricane season through October. Be sure to use the lead time to get your hurricane supply kit ready, just in case a storm comes your way this year.