Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Quiet Storm Season, So Far

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Quiet Storm Season, So Far

Article excerpt

The first month of the hurricane season has not brought any tropical cyclones for the first time since 2009, although the first storm of 2014 could be in store for early July.

Hurricane forecasters said Sunday a tropical depression is expected to form over the next few days in the Atlantic off the east coast of Florida. Dry air and some strong upper level winds were forecast to inhibit development of the system through today, but conditions will become more favorable by Tuesday as it meanders over warm ocean water. The National Hurricane Center gave the system -- about 230 miles east of St. Augustine -- an 80 percent chance of becoming at least a depression by Thursday.

If the system's sustained winds become strong enough, it would be named Arthur.

Assuming it doesn't reach that level by the end of today, this year will end an unusual streak of early hurricane season activity that included June storms affecting Southwest Florida each of the last two years.

June is typically a slow month for tropical weather in the Atlantic. The average is one June storm every other year, but the last four years brought four tropical storms and two hurricanes in June.

They included Tropical Storm Andrea, which side-swiped the region in 2013, causing minimal damage. Tropical Storm Debby stalled off the coast of Sarasota and Manatee counties in June 2012, leading to significant beach erosion and minor flooding.

A fast or slow start to the hurricane season is not necessarily predictive of what is to come, but this year forecasters expect the pattern of fewer storms to continue.

Predictions from a range of sources call for an average or below- average hurricane season, and so far the climate patterns seem to be holding up as expected.

Meteorologists still expect an El Nino to form in the Pacific Ocean, bringing warm water to the eastern Pacific. That generates more thunderstorms, increasing westerly winds that extend east into the Atlantic Ocean. Such strong wind shear helps limit hurricane development.

Phil Klotzbach, a research scientist with Colorado State University's Tropical Meteorology Project, said the westerly winds that push warm water into the eastern Pacific have died down in recent weeks. …

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