– With apologies to the Chinese calendar, 2013 might go down as the Year of No Hurricanes or at least very few of them, and without much clout. Credit dry air, but don’t jump to conclusions too fast, says a Texas A&M University storm expert.
Robert Korty, an associate professor in Texas A&M’s Department of Atmospheric Sciences, says there have been 11 named storms so far this year, which is about average. The big difference: The storms have not made landfall and they have been at a low intensity level.
“We started off the season with several back in June and July, but then August and September, usually the most active months, were very slow,” he explains.
“If you had to point to one reason, it would be dry air. The dry air coming across the Atlantic from Africa prevented a lot of storms from developing during August, and the ones that did develop were not very strong. So the result has been a hurricane season of about normal in number of storms, but these have been relatively weak ones so far.”
In an average season, there are about 11 tropical storms in the Atlantic, six of which become hurricanes and three of those become major hurricanes (rated as a Category 3 storm or higher).
So far, there have been 11 storms this season, and only two – Humberto and Ingrid – were classified as hurricanes, and neither reached the United States.
The latest, tropical storm Karen, formed this week in the Gulf of Mexico. It may reach hurricane strength, but is not forecast to develop into a major storm as it moves towards the upper Gulf coast between Louisiana and Florida.
Although hurricane season runs through Nov. 30, Sept. 10 is the peak time for hurricane development, which means the odds of a storm hitting Texas this season are low.
That is good news for most people, who still remember the historic 2005 season, the most active in history with 28 total storms and seven major hurricanes, including Katrina and Rita. In all that year, more than 3,900 people died in the storms that caused $160 billion in damages.
“It’s been a slow year in the Atlantic, but also in the Pacific,” Korty adds.
“The conditions this year have just not been favorable for storms to develop, and that’s a good thing. We have been very lucky the past few years.”