INFOGRAPHIC: Atlantic Hurricane Season Off to Slow Start

By , Expert Senior Meteorologist
June 25, 2014; 6:41 AM
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Despite an attempt in the southwestern Gulf of Mexico early this month, there is little chance of tropical development in the Atlantic Basin through the end of June.

A disturbance over the southwestern Gulf battled disruptive winds then drifted onshore into Mexico, before developing a closed circulation during the last couple of days of May into early June.

The last time there were no tropical systems during May and June in the Atlantic was 10 years ago in 2004.

During the 2004 season, the first tropical system, Alex, did not form until late July. Four years later, during the 2009 season, a tropical depression formed in May.

However, so far this season, conditions have not been favorable for tropical development in the Atlantic Basin.

"The biggest limiting factor for early season development thus far has been moderate to strong wind shear from the Gulf of Mexico, across the Caribbean and into the southern North Atlantic," Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski said.

Wind shear occurs when air in the tropics blows from the west at high speeds over the middle layers of the atmosphere. These winds can prevent tropical systems from forming, limit intensification or lead their demise.

"Another factor deterring development are very strong northeast trade winds, which are causing tropical disturbances to move along at a very fast pace," Kottlowski said.

A strong area of high pressure between Bermuda and the Azores is creating the fast flow farther south in the tropical Atlantic.

In order for a tropical system to form, not only are light winds needed initially, but warm water is also necessary.

"We will have to watch to see if this pattern persists, as it could cool sea surface temperatures by way of upwelling over a large part of the Atlantic," Kottlowski said.

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One area to watch, through the end of June into the first few days of July, is just off the southeastern coast of the United States.

"Wind shear is weaker in this area relative to the rest of the basin, so should a thunderstorm complex or disturbance move into that region, it would not be impossible for something to spin up," Kottlowski said.

AccuWeather meteorologists are projecting a below-average hurricane season this year in the Atlantic with 10 tropical storms and five hurricanes.

Despite the low numbers forecast, two U.S. landfalls are predicted with the East Coast at risk.

Meanwhile, the Eastern Pacific should be very active with 19 tropical storms and 10 hurricanes projected for the season.

The areas along the west coast of Central America and the areas south of Mexico in the Eastern Pacific are being monitored for potential development of one or more systems into early July.

Thus far in 2014, the Eastern Pacific Basin has already yielded hurricanes Amanda and Cristina, as well as Tropical Storm Boris.

Thumbnail Image: The Star Jet roller coaster remains in the water after the Casion Pier it sat on collapsed from the forces of Superstorm Sandy, February 19, 2013 in Seaside Heights, New Jersey. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images News/Thinkstock)


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