Thus far the 2013 Atlantic hurricane season has failed to live up to the hype.
Although hurricane forecasters predicted a busy season – with about 50 percent more activity than occurs during an average season – by almost any measure this season has been an exceptionally quiet.
Consider the following:
During the just-ended Labor Day weekend, the National Hurricane Center did not issue a single advisory for an active storm. That’s happened just five other times since 1963.
August ended without a hurricane forming in the Atlantic for the first time since 2002.
Overall activity during a season is measured by accumulated cyclone energy, a sum of the intensity and duration of all storms. Through Tuesday, this season’s accumulated cyclone energy value is just 22 percent of that during an average season, let alone a busy one.
Seasonal forecasters generally predicted an average of 16 named storms this season, with eight becoming hurricanes. So far there have been six named storms, none of which have become hurricanes.
Even though the hurricane season traditionally doesn’t peak for another week, some seasonal forecasters are acknowledging that they likely misfired on this year’s projections.
“At this point it looks like this is going to be a significant forecast bust,” said Phil Klotzbach, a Colorado State University hurricane scientist who, along with William Gray, produces the most widely read seasonal forecast.“The challenge with this year, unlike some of other forecast busts, is that there are no obvious reasons why.”
Some of the most prominent factors, however, appear to have been a large amount of Saharan dust that has moved over the tropical Atlantic Ocean and choked off storm formation, as well as wind shear that can rip apart a storm’s circulation.
There’s still time, of course.
A storm in the Caribbean Sea showed signs of development on Tuesday, and the system could become a tropical storm or even a hurricane during the next several days as it moves toward Cuba and likely curves northward before moving as far west as Florida.
Several forecast models also indicate that tropical waves moving off Africa could find favorable conditions for strengthening into hurricanes during the next week or 10 days.
Nevertheless, for Texas, time is running out for a significant tropical impact this year.
Although the Atlantic season does not end until Nov. 30, for Texas the chances of a hurricane strike fall off dramatically after the end of September.
No jinx intended, of course.