Continued quiet in the Atlantic

August 2, 2009

It was five years ago yesterday afternoon that Tropical Storm Alex formed and 29 years ago yesterday evening that Allen formed.  With that, the 2009 season moves up the list of  seasons late to have a tropical storm (year links point to the season’s Unisys page, hurricane links point to the storm’s Wikipedia page):

Year Date
of first tropical storm (Zulu/UTC)
1977 30 August Anita
1967 30 August Beulah
1962 26 August
1952 24 August Fox
1949 21 August Hurricane #
1984 19/29 August Diana
1992 16 August Andrew
1983 15 August Alicia
1950 12 August Easy,
1987 9 August Emily
1988 7 August Gilbert
2000 4 August Keith
2009 ??? ???
1980 2 August Allen
1963 2 August Flora
2004 1 August Ivan

In compiling this list, I went back to 1944, the first year of airborne storm reconaissance and one of the starting points for a reliable storm climatology.  Out of season sub-tropical storms were not considered, but in-season ones were. This put 1992 on the list and keeps 1974 off (and affects the first storm date for 1984).  Any list extending back more than a few years is going to have its limitations due to the increased amount of remote sensing data available.

A key thing to note when reviewing these seasons, is that while a few of the overall quietest seasons on record are on the list, these were not seasons without noteworthy storms. In fact, 7 of the 15 seasons (47%) featured a category five storm, which is a bit higher than climatology for the period (32%).

Visible satellite view of the western Atlantic

Visible satellite view of the western Atlantic

As we look at the Atlantic this morning, we see the basin as about quiet as can be.  Some stray showers near Bermuda and that’s it.  In the southeast, we see dry air pushing down to the ITCZ.

Visible satellite view of the eastern Atlantic

Visible satellite view of the eastern Atlantic

Looking further east, we see the latest thunderstorms to roll off the African coast along with the dry air just north of it.  The GFS model has intermittently suggested a surface low forming from this over the next few days.  A somewhat dubious propsect, but it is the only prospect of tropical cyclone formation out there at the moment. Regardless of what happens with this, we should see this season advance past 2000 on the list. If nothing materializes, 1988 and 1987 are likely to be surpassed as well before anything else threatens to form.

In the meantime, on August 4. Colorado State and Tropical Storm Risk will publish their updated season forecasts and we will probably see an update from NOAA as well next week.


One Response to “Continued quiet in the Atlantic”

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    John Wirth
    Stroudsburg, PA

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