Early Start to the Atlantic Hurricane Season?

4 05 2015

Dale C. S. Destin |

Notwithstanding the forecast for a quiet Atlantic hurricane season this year, it looks like we will see an early start to the season.

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ECMWF Tropical Cyclone Strike Probability Forecast

ECMWF Tropical Cyclone Strike Probability Forecast

The U.S. National Hurricane Centre is presently indicating a low chance of tropical cyclone (depression, tropical storm or hurricane) formation in the next five days. However, one of the most reliable weather models, ECMWF, is indicating a high chance, up to 70% probability, of a tropical cyclone forming later this week, just north of the Bahamas.

If it forms, it looks likely that it will have an impact of the Carolinas and nearby southeast coastal areas of the United States. At most, they may have to deal with the effects of a strong tropical storm.

Antigua and Barbuda, has not been affected by a preseason storm in over 60 years and that streak is not expected to end this year. Our last preseason system was Hurricane Alice2 in January 1954, which actually formed in December 1953. Most of the rest of the Eastern Caribbean has never had a preseason storm and that is not about to change this year.

The initial disturbance is likely to develop from a cold front currently causing extremely wet weather across portions of the Cayman Islands, Cuba, the Bahamas and south Florida. Already, there has been massive flooding in Cuba causing three deaths and forcing tens of thousands from their homes.

TRMM_Rainfall

TRMM satellite has estimated up to a staggering 300 mm (12 inches) of rain has fallen across parts of Cuba and the rest of the affected area within the past seven days. Another 100 mm (4 inches) is possible over the next three days; hence, more flooding is expected.

It’s relatively rare but not unheard of for tropical storms to form in May. According to AOML, there have been 20 tropical storms in May over the period 1851-2014. This translates to one in every nine-ten years, on average. The last May storms were Alberto and Beryl in 2012.

Preseason tropical cyclones have no known omens for the Atlantic hurricane season. So, whether or not there is an early start, a quiet season is most likely this year, given the existing and expected prevailing atmospheric conditions.

Officially, the Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30.

We will continue to monitor this developing story.

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