Hurricane Dean Brings To Halt Dormant Start To 2007 In Atlantic

After two months of relative dormancy, the Atlantic Basin has picked up in activity this past week with the development of Tropical Storm Erin and Hurricane Dean. Erin, which formed in the Central Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday evening, was a weak and short lived storm as it made landfall into Texas near the town of Lamar early Thursday morning. However, lurking further to the east in the Central Atlantic was another tropical storm system that had formed earlier in the week. The storm would be named Dean.

With these latest two storms, the Atlantic Basin has had five named storms this season with one of them being subtropical in nature. Dean not only became the first hurricane of 2007, but also the first major hurricane, and possibly the first Category Five storm. Prior to this week, there had only been three named storms, and no hurricanes. Seasonal forecasts by Dr. William Gray of Colorado State University and NOAA, which both predicted well above average activity for the season, were scaled back slightly within the past few weeks in reaction to the slow start. A feeling that I was getting from this sluggish beginning was that perhaps this active cycle of tropical storms and hurricanes in the Atlantic had come to an end.

With the development of Dean this week, and its subsquent strengthening into a strong Category Four Hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale, governments and people of all different kinds from across the Caribbean to the Gulf Coast of the United States and Mexico have gotten the wake up call that the Cape Verde season has begun for 2007, and that it is time to get prepared if you haven’t done so already. As of Saturday morning, August 18, 2007, which by the way is the 28th anniversary of Hurricane Camille’s coming ashore along the Gulf Coast of Mississippi, Dean had 150 mph winds, and forecasts indicated that the storm would head into Jamaica with 155 mph winds, or simply put, a much stronger storm than Gilbert was when it cut across the island back in September, 1988.

And it doesn’t appear that it will be stopping there either. Dean is forecast to head across the Western Caribbean, and pose problems for the Cayman Islands before slamming into the Yucatan Peninsula as a Category Five Hurricane with at least 160 mph winds. Dean will probably weaken if it does come ashore in the Yucatan due to its elevated plateau, but it will eventually have to re-emerge in the very warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, which according to CNN the other day, currently has water temperatures ranging between 86 and 90 degrees. On top of that, there is always the Loop Current, which played a key role in the explosive development of both Katrina and Rita back in that tumultuous summer of 2005.

Governors along the Gulf Coast have made superb steps in anticipating this storm. Yesterday, Governor Perry of Texas stated that the storm is an “Imminent Threat” to the Lone Star State while Governor Blanco of Louisiana, which absorbed plenty of the devastation from Katrina and Rita, issued a State of Emergency. Mississippi Governor, Haley Barbour, told his beleaguered residents to be prepared and ready, but not to panic. While the 2005 season as well as the 2004 season caused a lot of devastation, and a great loss of life, it did help leaders in affected states to realize that we must be better prepared.

After Dean, there was still things stirring out in the Atlantic earlier in the week. There were a couple disturbances in the Eastern Atlantic as well as plenty of shower and thunderstorm complexes moving across the sub-Saharan region of Africa. So, the Cape Verde Season is now underway, and Dean should just be the beginning of what is expected to be another dangerous peak of hurricane season.