Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Quiet Cape Verde, so far....

Hurricane season began June first and runs through the end of November. This of course is a man made timeline as storms can brew at any time of year as long as there is sufficient energy.

The primary source of fuel for hurricanes is warm ocean water of at least 80 degrees. Obviously the span from June through November is when the sea surface temps are the warmest and thus this is our hurricane season.

Hidden within this season is a smaller and more active grouping of months known as Cape Verde Season, usually kicking off around August and coming to an end by October. It is so called, because hot pockets of air come off the West Coast of Africa, move over the Cape Verde Islands, and then if the conditions are right, can grow into hurricanes. They move over the entire Atlantic picking up plenty of energy turning many of these Cape Verde Systems into monsters.

One great example was hurricane Andrew in 1992.

If we narrow our focus, we can see that activity picks up in August and reaches its peak in September. This search shows the amount of tropical systems sprouting between 1851 and 2009. In AUGUST there is a total of 352 systems while in SEPTEMBER it skyrockets to 540.

Experts are still predicting an active 2010 with around 20 tropical storms , above the seasonal average of 11. So far we've only seen Alex, Bonnie, and Colin. Up to this point it has been a rather dull and quiet season. Why? A few items come to mind. A strong Bermuda high, an expansive SAL or African dust plume in the atmosphere, and an unimpressive La Nina event.

Top scientist still warn that La Nina will rear its head soon making conditions better for hurricanes to grow, so we must remain vigilant. Some long range models, specifically the CMC has been on the mark this year forecasting activity and its calling for something to develop off the Cape Verde islands within the week. Hopefully it will be wrong. I would hate for our uneventful season so far, to come to an end.

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