August 7, 2012 North Myrtle Beach, SC - With NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center prepared to release its seasonal update this week, it’s worthwhile to review what has happened so far.
The 2012 hurricane season started off with a bang with the first two tropical storms forming in the last two weeks of May and even more startling, they formed near the North Strand. Tropic Storm Alberto formed just 120 miles south east of North Myrtle Beach, appeared to be heading towards the North Strand when it made a turn toward the west-northwest, moved to the north and northeast and then out to sea. The second May storm Beryl passed over the area saturated with Atlantic moisture, dropped up to five inches of rain in some locations and led NOAA to issue local flood warnings.
June witnessed the first hurricane, Chris which formed and dissipated off the coast of Cape Race Newfoundland in Canada – a rare early northern hurricane. The northern area of the U.S. has only seen 4 to 5 strikes in one hundred and ten years. Tropical Storm Debby formed in the Gulf, stalled over Florida, flooded areas in Georgia and eventually wandered off to the north away from land.
Currently the National Hurricane Center is monitoring Tropical Storm Ernesto which formed off the coast of Guyana in South America and is expected to make landfall on the West Coast of the Yucatan sometime today.
Darren Stack, WPDE Meteorologist, reported that a few weak disturbances are out in the Atlantic but are a long way from the US. These have rough trip ahead with dry air and a lot of wind shear to battle. Most models are these disturbances to diminish over the next few days.
The early starts are unusual. According to the National Hurricane Center, the average number of named storms by August 1st is two and we have already seen four. The average number of hurricanes is zero and we have already seen one.
The preseason forecasts from the major weather centers were all pointing to a normal to below normal season. In May, NOAA called for a near-normal season, but down from recent years. Colorado State University anticipated the 2012 Atlantic basin hurricane season to have reduced activity compared with the past twenty years and also anticipated a below-average probability for major hurricanes making landfall along the United States coastline and in the Caribbean. The Weather Channel also calls for a below-average hurricane season and AccuWeather characterizes their 2012 hurricane forecast as near-normal for the Atlantic Basin.
August 9, 2012 is an important date for hurricane watchers. On that date NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center will update the Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook. Much will depend upon the El Nino forecast (the warming of the Pacific Ocean near the western tropical coasts of South America). The tropical Atlantic Ocean experiences depressed hurricane activity during El Niño years due to increased vertical wind shear across the region.
Visit back later this week for an update from NOAA.