All quiet in the western hemisphere.

June 5, 2009

From a named storm standpoint, we’re off to the quietest start to the western hemisphere (North Atlantic + East Pacific) hurricane season since 1999. That year the first tropical storm was not named until June 12.

However, if we count tropical depressions, we are on par with 2004, which saw a system develop in the Pacific on May 22 with nothing else developing until 12 July.  Of course in that season, the quiet in the Atlantic was not at all indicative of what was to come as August and September brought nine hurricanes.

This year, however, relative quiet is expected to be the theme for the Atlantic.  Sea Surface Temperatures that are merely average combined with an expected  El Niño event yielded the lowest activity forecasts seen in this active hurricane cycle (1995-present).  Dr Masters has a fine round-up of NOAA’s, Colorado State’s and Tropical Storm Risks hurricane season projections.

At the moment the only area worth watching for signs of activity is the southwest Caribbean.  For the past day or two the GFS and NOGAPS models have been suggesting development like that of Arlene in 2005 (but with the storm heading to the northeast over Cuba instead of north into the Gulf of Mexico).   A tropical wave currently east of the Antilles may act as a catalyst when it passes through the western Caribbean in the middle of next week  However, during the time I’ve been drafting this, the most recent set of model runs have been generated and they are not as keen on this scenario as previously.

Between anomalously high wind shear throughout much of the basin and the lack of other catalysts, should the west Caribbean scenario fail to pan out, it seems probable that the Atlantic would continue to be quiet into mid-June.

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