Eyeing an early Atlantic disturbance

As a reminder that the 2011 hurricane season is right around the corner, a disturbance has formed north of the Leeward Islands. Satellite data and ship reports indicate the winds are gusting over 40 mph, but thunderstorm activity is being pushed far to the northeast by wind shear of more than 50 knots. Wind shear is forecast to relax a bit over the next day or two providing a small window of opportunity for this system to grow into a tropical or sub-tropical depression.If anything were to develop, it doesn't stand a chance of surviving beyond Saturday. Wind shear is expect to increase and rip the system apart. In fact, all the important tropical models dissipate the system over the weekend. Obviously, this is no threat to us or any land area.It's highly unusual for a tropical system to form during the month of April. Since 1851, only 2 systems have become sub-tropical or tropical storms. In 1992, an unnamed sub-tropical storm formed in the open Atlantic north of the Leeward Islands. In 2003, a second sub-tropical storm, Ana, formed north of Puerto Rico. Eventually Ana acquired tropical characteristics and became the first purely tropical storm ever in the month of April. Neither system ever impacted land.Does an April storm foreshadow a busy 2011 season? It's impossible to draw any conclusions based on such a small data set. In 1992, we only had 7 named storms while in 2003 we had 16. Both of those seasons had significant hurricane impacts. Everyone remembers category 5 hurricane Andrew slamming into south Florida in August of 1992. In 2003, category 2 hurricane Isabel dealt a significant blow to the Outer Banks of NC and the Mid-Atlantic producing heavy rain and killing more than 50. In both years, the Grand Strand was not impacted by a tropical system.

For a look back at the 2010 hurricane season, check out our tropical page here:§ionnavigation=false