When It Comes To Hurricane Seasons–It’s Not How You Start, But How You Finish!

There has been some discussion here in the blog about the fast starts both the Eastern Pacific and the Atlantic Basins have gotten off to so far in 2007. After a quiet first two weeks, the Eastern Pacific got itself going with two meager tropical systems in Alvin and Barbara this past week. Meanwhile, in the Atlantic, we had our first named storm on May 9th, and our second and first tropical storm of the year within the first eighteen hours of the official start to the season on June 1st.

However, before people get to excited and caught up with the numbers, there is one thing to keep in mind: Hurricane Seasons are marathons, not sprints. It is how each season finishes that matter. Let’s take last year for example. In the Atlantic, there was a storm within the first week of the season, and two named storms by the middle of July, which is average. Then, the El Nino kicked in, and we only ended up with nine named storms, five hurricanes, and two major hurricanes leaving 2006 as only the second below average season since the latest active cycle began in 1995. Speaking of 1995, we had our first named storm within the first 72 hours of the start of that season, and we ended up with 19 named storms, 11 hurricanes, and 5 major hurricanes. Furthermore, in 2005, we had two named storms within the first month of the season, which had only happened previously twelve times, and then we ended up with a record of 28 named storms, 15 hurricanes, and a near record 7 major hurricanes including four that were Category Five.

While a storm or two during the first month of the hurricane season can be a good indicator of what’s to come, it doesn’t always work out that way. For instance, recent seasons such as 1998, 2000, 2002, and 2004. there was no named storm for the first six weeks to two months, and they all ended up slightly or well above average in terms of activity. Conversely, 1997 had four named storms, an unnamed subtropical system, and a depression by the next to last week in July, and ended up with only eight storms, three hurricanes, and one intense hurricane for the year. So, the moral of the story here is don’t get too caught up with how many storms there are in June. Instead, worry about how many we have in August, September, and October.

Nevertheless, there are a couple tropical waves that we are now watching in the Atlantic Basin this evening. One is interacting with the Northern Coast of South America, and another is a very impressive wave just off the African Coast. I happened to see the satellite imagery of this wave while talking to Barometer Bob of Hurricane Hollow on the phone, and I must say, it’s a pretty good wave for just the first few days of hurricane season. So, perhaps these early storms are just a harbinger of things to come. More on this strong wave and other features will be out later in the Tracking the Tropics report.