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10.20.13 Checking In on Hurricane Season

With over a month left in hurricane season, Meteorologist Michael Page takes a look at hurricane season so far.
Over the past two years, the northeast has felt the wrath of tropical storms including Irene and Sandy. This year, it's a different story. No hurricanes have come close to the United States so far.

Government predictions of an active season have yet to materialize, with eleven named storms so far. That’s exactly average for a whole season. Just two of those storms became hurricanes. In a normal season six hurricanes form. Remember, there is still a month left in hurricane season (ends on November 30). The peak of the season has passed, however. That occurs in early September.

Keep in mind that every hurricane season features variability, and perception often trumps reality. For example, a season with many storms that stay out to sea is technically “active”, but the public perceives it as quiet. Other years are technically “quiet”, but feature just one powerful storm that hits land. In that case the public may perceive it as a busy year. Either way, the reason for this season’s tranquility is multifaceted.

For one thing, there has been a decent amount of wind shear over the Atlantic. That changing of wind speed and direction with height essentially tears storms apart. At the same time, large dust storms have been blowing off the coast of Africa. While the dust storms themselves aren’t unusual, this year’s storm have been larger than average. That dust often cools the ocean temperature, a key component in maintaining storm strength.
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