It's late August and through Sunday, there have been no hurricanes in the Atlantic ocean, Caribbean Sea or Gulf of Mexico.
We've had 6 tropical storms (Andrea, Barry, Chantal, Dorian, Erin, Fernand), but most have fallen victim to dry air and/or wind shear. On average, the first hurricane of the season forms by August 10th and the second by August 28th. It's a virtual certainty that we will get through the month of August without a hurricane.
Is this unprecedented? No. Since 1960, there have been 5 other seasons in which the first hurricane didn't form until September.
2002: Sep. 11 - Gustav
2001: Sep. 8 - Erin
1988: Sep. 2 - Debby
1984: Sep. 10 - Diana
1967: Sep. 2 - Arlene
The lack of a hurricane in August does not mean the rest of the season will be quiet. Take a look at those same years that had a hurricane-free August and what their final totals were for the season.
2002: 12 storms, 4 hurricanes, 2 major hurricanes
2001: 15 storms, 9 hurricanes, 4 major hurricanes
1988: 12 storms, 5 hurricanes, 3 major hurricanes
1984: 13 storms, 5 hurricanes, 1 major hurricane
1967: 6 storms, 5 hurricanes, 1 major hurricane
All but the 1967 season ended up being seasons with above normal activity. Interestingly enough, the 1961 season also had no hurricanes in August (one in July) and that was followed by a September with 4 major hurricanes!
Unfortunately, the Atlantic Basin is going to light up very soon. Historically, the hurricane season peaks around September 10th and there are numerous signs that favor significant tropical development by the end of August and through September:
1. The water across the Atlantic basin is sufficiently warm and slightly above normal.
2. Wind shear is gradually weakening and is at a minimum in September
3. Atmospheric pressure is lower than normal
4. Tropical waves are lining up across Africa
5. Saharan air from Africa is beginning to diminish
6 All the long range models are hinting at multiple storms forming in the Atlantic over the next two weeks.
The one thing that's been lacking is large quantities of rising air. There's a natural cycle of rising and sinking air that propagates around the world known as the Madden-Julian Oscillation or MJO. For much of the hurricane season so far, it's been in a particular phase that promotes sinking air which has prevented tropical storms from reaching hurricane status. That's likely to change very soon. All of the forecast models indicate the MJO will be entering a phase over the Atlantic that often enhances tropical development and correlates well with active periods.
It wont be long before our first hurricane of the season forms and September and October can easily make up for lost time.
I know we say it every year, but it is so true. You should prepare every year for a hurricane regardless of how active the season may or may not be.
As the director of the National Hurricane Center, Rick Knabb, says, if only one hurricane forms in 2013 and it hits you, the total number of storms for the season will be the furthest thing from your mind.
Buckle up. It may be quite a ride through September.