Tropics Peaking At The Right Time In 2008

Statistically speaking, the Tropical Atlantic usually hits full steam in August and September. The Cape Verde Season, where most of the powerful hurricanes develop in the deep tropics, occurs around this time after the ocean has been cooked by the strong rays of the summer sun for a couple months. The actual peak of the Atlantic Season is usually on September 10th. This season is heating up just at the right time.

Although there was a somewhat quick start to 2008 with Arthur forming the day before the official start, and Bertha developing into a powerful early season storm before causing problems for Bermuda, there really hadn’t been a great deal of significant activity. True, there has been a total of eight storms, and perhaps nine by the end of this weekend with the disturbance just off the coast of Africa, but there hasn’t really been this kind of activity yet. There is a potential to have three storms out in the Atlantic at the same time over the course of the next few days. In addition, parts of the Northeast have been dealing with the remnants of Tropical Storm Fay, which caused a great deal of flooding in Florida last week.

Gustav was the next storm to emerge from the warm waters of the tropics as it developed quickly on Monday, August 25th, after being closely monitored as a tropical disturbance over the previous weekend. Gustav became the season’s third hurricane on Tuesday before encountering mountainous terrain over Hispanola, and weakening to a tropical storm. Hanna followed suit on Thursday, August 28th, and is now a mild storm with winds of 50 miles per hour despite dealing with hostile upper level dynamics thanks in part to a nearby upper level low. In addition to those two tropical storms, there are a couple other areas of disturbed weather including one that was already discussed earlier.

Within the past 24 hours, a strong area of thunderstorms came off the West Coast of Africa, and has become a rather formidable tropical wave. Conditions are looking favorable for development, and this could very well become the ninth tropical depression, or even storm of the 2008 season. So far this year, there have been 8 named storms, 3 hurricanes, and one major hurricane. Pre-season projections indicated that there would be 12 to 16 named storms, 6 to 9 hurricanes, and 2 to 5 major hurricanes. After the fast start, those predictions, courtesy of NOAA, have gone up to 14 to 18 named storms, 7 to 10 hurricanes, and 3 to 6 major hurricanes.

It is reasonable that those numbers could be achieved since September usually brings 3 or 4 more named storms while October can result in two, especially since the latest active cycle began in 1995, and there have been a number of storms in November in recent years. Hurricane Michelle back in 2001 is a prime example. However, it is important to point out, that we are yet to see a major hurricane threaten the United States, and on this third anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, that is the measuring stick by which many along our coastlines are going by these days. Even last year, which was active in terms of the number of named storms, was not memorable since no significant storms affected the U.S.