It's been nearly 3 months since the start of the 2011 Atlantic hurricane season. And just like the MLB season, things usually don't get really interesting until August, September, and October.
In May, meteorologists from NOAA's Climate Prediction Center and National Hurricane Center forecasted an above average season. In August the numbers were updated for even more activity with a 70% chance of the following:
* 14-19 named storms
* 7-10 hurricanes
* 3-5 major hurricanes
(These numbers surpass a normal season of 11 named storms, 6 hurricanes, and 2 major hurricanes)
It's been an active season already in terms of the number of storms. As I write this blog on August 22nd, hurricane Irene is churning in the western Atlantic and looks like it will give the east coast a scare (at the very least) late this week. So that's 9 named storms already, and the season doesn't even peak until mid September.
(Graph of hurricanes over a 100 year period)
So far, the first 9 storms have done very little to impact weather stateside. All of the storms have stayed out to sea, stayed weak, or fizzled before reaching land. In late July residents of southern Texas were actually happy about Tropical Storm Don heading their way. Don could have brought heavy rains desperately needed in an area cursed by drought this summer. But Don choked under pressure and barely brought a sniff of rain.
Just because the first 9 storms have swung and missed doesn't mean the next storm or storms will do the same. Looking back 6 years to the most active and deadly hurricane seasons in recent history (remember Katrina?) it seems we are on an eerie pace. In 2005, another hurricane Irene breezed it's way through the open waters of the Atlantic before losing its tropical characteristics on August 18th (hurricane names that are not retired are repeated every 6 years). So it appears we are only a few days off the pace of 2005 that saw a record setting 28 named storms! Keeping up this pace through late November seems unlikely. In fact, 2005's last tropical storm formed in late December, something you don't see every year. Still with 2011 version of Irene gaining strength and heading west it is likely we're just beginning to see the real 2011 hurricane season.
To get the latest hurricane info, check out this page www.nhc.noaa.gov.