Forecasters: Hurricane season 2013 is no bust

Jason Sickles, Yahoo
Yahoo News

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Atlantic tropical cyclone activity on Aug. 20, 2013. (NWS)

David Sinclair, who makes his living on the shore of the Atlantic Ocean, has some words of advice for anyone taking solace in a seemingly slow start to the 2013 hurricane season.

“Don’t ever drop your guard until we’re through September,” says Sinclair, who owns the waterfront Ocean Grill and Tiki Bar in Carolina Beach, N.C. “Now through September is when the bigger ones really start flying off the hook.”

Since the season began June 1, the Atlantic has produced five named tropical storms but no hurricanes. On average, the first hurricane forms by Aug. 10 and the second by Aug. 28. As of Tuesday, the National Hurricane Center was reporting no activity on the radar, and “tropical cyclone formation is not expected during the next five days.”

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Tropical Storm Andrea reached the U.S. in June. (NWS)

“That’s cool.” Sinclair told Yahoo News. “We’re OK with that.”

According to weather records dating back to 1851, there are 48 other years when the first hurricane materialized after Aug. 20, and in 25 of those years, it was on or after Sept. 1. The all-time latest is Oct. 8, 1905. Hurricane season officially ends Nov. 30.

“It would be a very, very big mistake to think the season’s over,” says Dennis Feltgen, National Hurricane Center spokesman. “We’ve had some very bad years where we’ve waited until the first hurricane even showed up.”

Feltgen, a meteorologist who grew up in South Florida, said Hurricane Andrew on Aug. 24, 1992, is an example of a season’s first hurricane being a whopper. Andrew, a Category 5 storm, brought catastrophic damage to the Miami area.

Last year, Superstorm Sandy, which started as a hurricane, didn't make landfall on the northeast Atlantic coast until Oct. 29. The massive storm caused an estimated 72 deaths and $65 billion in damage, according to The Weather Channel.

Despite no formation of a hurricane thus far in 2013, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Climate Prediction Center said Tuesday that its prediction for a 70 percent chance of an “above-normal” season still stands. Forecasters anticipate 13 to 19 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher). Of those, six to nine could become hurricanes (winds 74 mph or higher) with three to five of those becoming major storms (Category 3, 4 or 5 with winds of at least 111 mph).

“Our confidence for an above-normal season is still high because the predicted atmospheric and oceanic conditions that are favorable for storm development have materialized,” NOAA’s Gerry Bell said in a written statement. “Also, two of the four named storms to-date formed in the deep tropical Atlantic, which historically is an indicator of an active season.”

With Sept. 10, the traditional peak of hurricane season, still three weeks away, Feltgen urged the public not to be fooled by the period of inactivity.

“It’ll be strange if there isn’t something floating around by the Labor Day weekend,” he told Yahoo News. “It ain’t over till it’s over and it’s nowhere close to being over.”

Until it is, here are the remaining storm names to be assigned in 2013: Fernand, Gabrielle, Humberto, Ingrid, Jerry, Karen, Lorenzo, Melissa, Nestor, Olga, Pablo, Rebekah, Sebastien, Tanya, Van and Wendy.

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Traditional peak of hurricane season. (NWS)

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