Frequency of Storms in Atlantic to Surge

By Jillian MacMath, Staff Writer
August 12, 2013; 8:01 PM ET
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Large waves generated by Hurricane Sandy crash into Jeanette's Pier in Nags Head, N.C., Saturday, Oct. 27, 2012 as the storm moves up the East Coast. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

What seems like a slow start to the 2013 Atlantic Hurricane Season is actually right on par with normal, experts say. It's still expected to be an active season for the Atlantic Basin.

As many notorious storms have impacted the coastal U.S. during the summer months, public perception seems to be that July and August should yield strong, impactful storms.

Hurricane Andrew, which slammed the Florida coast in mid-August in 1992, and also Hurricane Dennis in July 2005, bolstered these beliefs.

However, hurricane season peaks from late August to late October.

Superstorm Sandy which made landfall in October of last year and Hurricane Wilma in October of 2005 caused millions of dollars in damages and served as a reminder to coastal populations that the threat for hurricanes continues into the fall.

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Already in 2013, the Atlantic Basin has seen four named storms. Those numbers will continue to rise in September and October, and increase in frequency.

"This year, we've had two tropical systems that developed in the deep tropics, Dorian and Chantal, which is somewhat unusual early in the season," according to Expert Senior Meteorologist Dan Kottlowski.

"Typically through July, on average, we have about two tropical systems. It's not until about August 20 that we end up with four," he said.

This puts the seemingly slow 2013 season slightly ahead of schedule.

Though June 1 marks the official start of the Atlantic Hurricane Season, development is more difficult in the earlier months due to several inhibiting factors.

Wind shear and Saharan dust both threaten the formation of storms in July and August.

Saharan dust is dry air and dirt that floats off the coast of Africa and can drift as far as Florida, roughly 5,000 miles from its origin.

The dust limits the moisture in the air, which is required for development, and inhibits formation.

Storms can usually overcome one of these factors, but multiple limiting factors suppress development.

By September and October, however, the factors decline and an uptick in storms begins.

Dorian and Chantal, which formed in the Atlantic Basin in July, managed to do so during a period with weak wind shear and lessened Saharan dust.

"This gives us some insight that once these factors go away, things are ready to develop," Kottlowski said.

As September and October get underway, water temperatures peak, Saharan dust dies down, and prime conditions exist for tropical development.

"if we can get at least 2 more storms by the end of August that will put us on track to a very active season."'s 2013 Atlantic Hurricane Forecast predicts, in total, 16 tropical storms, eight hurricanes and four major hurricanes.

The Fall Forecast will release Wednesday, Aug. 14 and will revisit in detail the potential for fall tropical activity.


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