The Atlantic hurricane season reached its climatological peak on September 10, but this does not necessarily coincide with a decrease in activity to come.
There have been 14 named storms this season so far, with the latest Storm Nigel strengthening into a hurricane on Monday.
This makes for an active and above-average season, as we typically don’t hit this number of named storms until November. And with just over two months left in the season, here’s a general look at what the rest of this hurricane season could look like starting September 18.
Over the past three weeks, there has been a notable increase in activity in the Atlantic following a quiet period that lasted from late July to late August. ABC13 meteorologist Elyse Smith previously reported on this, noting the influence of the Madden Julien Oscillation (MJO). To recap, the MJO is a wave pattern that spans the entire globe and moves slowly from west to east. In doing so, it can influence local weather conditions, particularly in the tropics, through areas of upward or downward motion.
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Throughout September, an area of upward motion expanded over the Atlantic Ocean, which contributed to tropical development. Result: eight tropical storms developing in the Atlantic, including two locally in the Gulf of Mexico. That’s 10 storms in less than a month.
Most of the activity took place in the central/eastern Atlantic, with several of these storms taking similar paths through the mid-ocean. This also reflects a typical El Niño season, with storms developing further west off the coast of Africa and remaining east of the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico.
There are now signs that tropical activity in the Atlantic could slow down over the coming weeks, but not completely disappear. The MJO suggests that a sinking movement zone, currently located over the eastern Pacific and limiting tropical development there, could move over Central America and toward the Caribbean and parts of the deep tropics in late September . While this would not entirely limit activity across the Atlantic, it could keep the tropics calm in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. But constant wind shear from the jet stream will likely keep things calm in the Gulf regardless of the rest of the month.
However, long-term climate models also suggest that the MJO may enter a different phase in early October. If so, the growing movement of Central America and Caribbean options could contribute to any tropical development should it occur. Additionally, this is also the time of year when we monitor the Bay of Campeche for any areas of low pressure that could develop and become tropical. It’s definitely something to keep an eye on, but there’s no reason for alarm at this time.
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