The Peak of the Season Still Remains; It Only Takes One!!!

It has been a while since I last posted to my blog, but I have been dealing with a lot of personal issues over the last 20 months or so. Anyway, at first glance, you could say that the Tropical Atlantic has been quite active so far this season with 7 depressions, 6 named storms, and one hurricane (Franklin). However, these above average numbers are deceiving.

The 2017 season did get off to a very fast start with the first named storm emerging on April 19th. There were two more storms over the next two months to produce a very unusually high three named storms by the end of June. Usually, there is a named storm once every two years in the Atlantic by the end of June. Since then, there were four depressions, three named storms, and a hurricane.

However, in terms of tropical intensity, these storms have been fairly weak. First and foremost, Hurricane Franklin, which made two landfalls in Mexico this past week, has been the strongest storm to date in the Atlantic this season as a minimal hurricane with 75 mile per hour winds. Only one storm other than that, Tropical Storm Cindy had winds of over 50 mph (60 miles per hour).

Franklin was also the longest lasting storm with a duration of five days. The rest of the tropical cyclones in the Atlantic so far this season have only lasted about 2 to 3 days on average. Some of the storms such as Bret and Don were questionable storms in some ways. I myself have scratched my head at times this season about the development of certain storms.

While the season has been somewhat lackluster to this point, lets keep in mind that in 2011, there were eight tropical storms that formed before Hurricane Irene developed in the Atlantic, went through the Bahamas, and then came up the East Coast of the United States. Back in 1999, Hurricane Bret emerged during the month of August that year, but by the middle of September, we had Dennis and Floyd, which damaged much of Eastern North Carolina and New Jersey with flooding rains.

It doesn’t take much for a season as tame as the 2017 season has been to date to turn into a much more deadly and devastating one. Not every season is going to be like 2005 (30 depressions and 27 named storms), 1995 (19 named storms), 1969 (18 named storms), or 1933 (21 named storms). The first storm of the 1992 season, didn’t develop until the 2nd half of August, and was written off at one point, but then became the monster that was Hurricane Andrew that ended up causing some $27 billion in damage to South Florida.

The 1935 season was also quite similar. During that year, the first named storm actually emerged in May, but the second storm didn’t arrive until mid-August that year. However, by the end of the Labor Day Weekend that season, the United States and particularly, the Florida Keys experienced what would be the strongest storm on record in the Atlantic for over 50 years before Hurricane Gilbert came along. Two hundred people including many World War I Veterans were killed. Ultimately, there were only 8 named storms in the Atlantic in 1935, yet it remains one of the more memorable seasons due to the Labor Day Hurricane in the Keys.

Fast forward three years later, and the 1938 Atlantic Season. Like 1935, it was also a below average season with 9 named storms. The first named storm also occurred earlier than normal in January that year, but the second storm didn’t arrive until August. However, within six weeks or so, people were talking about the very rapid and devastating track of the Long Island Express of 1938, which ended up killing over 400 people. Let’s move ahead now to a year before Hurricane Andrew.

The 1991 season is also another year that wasn’t great in terms of numbers. There were eight named storms that season as well. The first named storm didn’t emerge until July. However, within a month and a half, Hurricane Bob came up the east coast, and went into New England. Two and a half months later, Hurricane Grace, which was actually only a Category Two Storm rather than the Category FIve storm that it was portrayed as in the movie, the Perfect Storm, but it contributed to that monster East Coast Storm late in October and early November of that year.

The moral of all of these stories is that it only takes one, and you don’t have to have a massive number of tropical storms and hurricanes to have a season to forget. We are closing in on 12 years since a major hurricane made landfall in the United States. During quite a few of those seasons, there have been bountiful numbers of tropical storms and hurricanes, but alas, none of them became major, nor impacted the United States directly.

Seasonal forecasts and projections are nice to have because they do serve the purpose of making us aware that hurricane season is coming, or is reaching its peak, and we need to be vigilant. However, the numbers they suggest are not always a guarantee that we are going to have that one big storm like an Andrew, Camille, Floyd, Gilbert, Hugo, or Katrina. Although they can definitely increase the odds of that unique monster storm, they are not the absolute final word.

So goes for a season like this because as I have just illustrated clearly with numerous examples, things can drastically change. Another thing to point out about this season so far is the large amount of activity in the Eastern Pacific. Today, we are tracking what is left of Tropical Storm Jova, the 10th named storm of the season in that basin. The lesson here is that whenever you have a high amount of activity in the Eastern Pacific, it is usually relatively quieter in the Atlantic.

There is also things such as sustenance and Saharan dust that tend to often cause problems for a period of time in the tropics during a particular season. Sometimes more than others. Those things can change. One thing that really has bothered me about people’s reactions about the season, and that is that some have written this season off already, and ironically after spewing out every single model run that hints at a huge storm some two weeks out.

All year round now, whether it is a winter storm or a tropical system, many jump to conclusions over every single model run. Whether it is the GFS, Euro, or other model. Any that may show that monster storm lurking somewhere off the coast of the United States from Maine to Texas, even if the storm hasn’t yet to come into its own. There is too much reliance on models, and too much jumping too conclusions about model runs that are two weeks out. I’ll admit that I have given into this frenzy in the past, but now I see many others doing it to a point that I don’t really like adding myself to the chaos. Even those who are so called experts.

Living in New Jersey, I don’t see as many hurricanes or even tropical storms as much as those in Florida or the Gulf Coast, and until six years ago, a hurricane hadn’t made landfall in the Garden State in over 100 years, and a major hurricane hadn’t struck in almost 200 years. Then, within a span of 14 months, the Garden State experienced two tropical systems (Irene and Sandy) that had been hurricanes at one point, and each caused a great deal of destruction in their own way. It only takes one to make a season.