Forecast Bust: 2013 Hurricane Season

Only 2 hurricanes so far at the mid point of the 2013 season

By Rebecca Barry - Meteorologist
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - At the mid point of the hurricane season, this quiet start has hurricane forecasters scratching their heads.  Across the board, every hurricane forecasting service from the NWS to Bob Gray called for  "above average activity" for the 2013 season, which has been an above average forecasting bust.

The National Weather Service's May forecast for the 2013 hurricane season called for 13 to 20 named storms, including 7 to 11 hurricanes. Then in August, the NWS adjusted the initial forecast to predict 13 to 19 named storms, and 6 to 9 hurricanes.

The below-average hurricane season is credited to three aspects of storm formation.  Dry, desert air is more predominant currently off the coast of Africa, where hurricanes initially form.  Typically, big thunderstorm complexes roll off the West coast of Africa and begin to develop and rotate- that's how hurricanes are born. Africa's desert air is infiltrating the coastline currently, and very few thunderstorms are developing against all of that dry air.

Another factor that trends towards a more quiet season is strong winds in the Gulf and Western Atlantic, shearing any storms that do begin to develop. When a storm is cut off, it reduces the energy of the storm, and weakens any potential for development. 

Brazil's current drought also contributes to even more dry are over the ocean, decreasing moisture and storm potential. 

So far, the 2013 hurricane season has been spent focusing on very small, rather weak tropical storms, many of which never made significant landfall.  Hurricane expert George Winterling warns against the danger of "crying wolf":

"Since the National Hurricane Center and the computer models started projecting storm positions 5 to 7 days into the future, minor tropical disturbances that used to be ignored by most of our local population are now distracting us from paying attention to our local and regional weather. Formerly, such long-range forecasts were used only by military and Emergency Planning/Management agencies.

I've always been concerned with the "crying wolf" syndrome. I believe there should be a difference between being "concerned" and being "worried". During the hurricane season everyone should be concerned enough to take preliminary actions, such as having batteries, bottled water and food that doesn't need refrigeration. If we are concerned enough to inspect and trim large trees at least every 3 to 5 years, we can eliminate the worry we feel when strong thunderstorm winds threaten to topple a large tree or drop a large limb on a person, house or car.

I will now be going back to mainly commenting on weather that will affect, or has affected, our lives. I will no longer waste time studying a storm 2,000 miles away since nearly half of them do not strike the U.S. My heart goes out to those who live in other countries and hope they can protect themselves from the storms that head their way. "

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