August 31, 2022

Where Are All The Atlantic Hurricanes?

If a new tropical storm doesn't form over the Atlantic Ocean by midnight tonight, we'll have witnessed one of the only Augusts on record without any named storms across the Atlantic basin.

That seems like quite the feat for a season that almost all experts expected to produce above-average tropical cyclone activity over the Atlantic. Most seasonal forecasts called for 14-20ish named storms this year thanks to a persistent La Niña over in the eastern Pacific Ocean.

We've only had three named storms through the morning of August 31st. Our last named storm, Tropical Storm Colin, dissipated on July 3rd.

SOURCE: Climate Prediction Center

La Niña—an extended period of cooler-than-normal waters in the eastern Pacific around the equator—usually provides favorable conditions over in the Atlantic by reducing the destructive wind shear that can tear a budding tropical cyclone to shreds before it ever has a chance to develop.

Tropical cyclones are fragile, though, and it takes quite a bit of aligning for a complex of storms to grow into a tropical storm and beyond.

Save for those three storms we had early on in the season, every disturbance that's formed in the Atlantic so far has fizzled out due to some combination of destructive wind shear, puffs of dry dust-filled air blowing off the Sahara, or marginal instability not allowing thunderstorms to reach their full potential.

Unless there's a nightmarish rush of storms over the next two months—which isn't totally out of the realm of possibility, as we've learned in the past few years—it appears pretty likely that the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season will struggle to see an above-normal number of storms.

But, as the old cliché goes, it really only takes one storm to make even a sluggish season a tragedy. Take the 1992 hurricane season as an example. That season's first named storm didn't form until the end of August. It was Hurricane Andrew.

SOURCE: National Hurricane Center

The peak of the season is the second week of September, after all, and we're not going to be able to completely escape any tropical development the rest of the season. If the month does end without any named storms, it'll have been a close call.

The National Hurricane Center has three disturbances in the Atlantic pegged for potential development over the next five days.

A vigorous disturbance east of the Lesser Antilles that has the best chance of developing into something by this weekend. Another low-pressure system out in the middle of the Atlantic could develop into a storm this week, and there's a third disturbance coming off Africa that could slowly develop heading into next week.

Enjoy the relative peace and quiet during what's supposed to be the most active time of the year for hurricanes. Use this downtime to make sure your emergency supplies and plans are in order in case something threatens your area over the next few months. It's important to prepare for storms even if you're hundreds of miles inland—some of the worst impacts from recent storms were from flash flooding and power outages that occurred in the days after landfall.

[Top Image: NOAA]

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I graduated from the University of South Alabama in 2014 with a degree in political science and a minor in meteorology. I contribute to The Weather Network as a digital writer, and I've written for Forbes, the Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang, Popular Science, Mental Floss, and Gawker's The Vane. My latest book, The Skies Above, is now available. My first book, The Extreme Weather Survival Manual, arrived in October 2015.