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Axios: ‘What’s missing from hurricane season? Hurricanes’ – Despite ‘unanimous’ forecasts for ‘above-average season’

By Andrew Freedman

The Atlantic hurricane season to date has been unusually quiet, with not a single named storm since July 2, a feat that last occurred in 1982. However, our luck is likely to run out soon, scientists tell Axios.

Why it matters: Nature’s strongest storms typically are the most costly weather-related disasters in a given year.

  • They are becoming more damaging due to human-driven climate change, which is causing tropical storms and hurricanes to grow more intense, roam further north than they used to and dump heavier rainfall.

The intrigue: The forecasts for the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season have been unanimous, with everyone from the federal government to university forecasting groups calling for an above-average or much above-average season.

  • “I’m a little surprised at the lack of activity to this point,” said Matthew Rosencrans, lead seasonal hurricane forecaster for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
  • He said the quiet to this point is inconsistent with his forecast, but that the bulk of tropical storms and hurricanes typically form from late August through October.
  • “The interesting thing is that Aug. 20 and later during the last 70 years, represents 75% of all tropical cyclone activity across the Atlantic,” he said, noting that the storm numbers NOAA has forecast are still achievable.

Zoom in: A La Niña event in the tropical Pacific Ocean, which typically lessens upper level winds across the Atlantic, argues for an unusually active hurricane season.

  • However, the Atlantic is behaving as if it does not recognize the La Niña exists. There has been persistent above average wind shear across the Caribbean, tearing apart nascent storms that try to get going.
  • In addition, across the so-called “main development region” of the Atlantic, there has been an abundance of dry air at the mid-levels of the atmosphere. This, too, discourages tropical cyclone development.

What they’re saying: Michael Lowry, a hurricane specialist with WPLG-TV in Miami, tells Axios that the lack of a pickup in activity this late in August means there are diminishing odds for an above average season, despite what all the forecasts are calling for.

  • “With each passing day, the silence in the Atlantic grows louder,” Lowry said in an email.