Tropics heat up as forecasters track 3 systems for possible development

·3 min read

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — The National Hurricane Center is monitoring three areas of disturbance — one gaining organization in the central Atlantic Ocean, one in the Caribbean and a third off western Africa that popped up on the 2 p.m. update on Saturday.

Meteorologists now are giving the system in the central Atlantic a 40% chance of forming into a tropical depression or storm in the next five days — an increase from the 11 a.m. update’s 30% — and 10% in the next 48 hours. According to the National Hurricane Center, conditions could become more favorable for development early next week as it moves through the central and western Caribbean.

It is producing disorganized thunderstorms as it moves west-northwest at 10-15 mph toward the Caribbean Sea.

A second area of interest is a trough of low pressure in the eastern Caribbean that emerged off the African coast and is moving west at 15 mph. As of Saturday afternoon, the National Hurricane Center has given it a 20% chance of developing in the next five days.

Neither system is a threat to Florida at this time. If either were to develop into a tropical storm, the first to do so would be named Danielle and the second would be Earl.

This could end up being just the third August since 1961 there hasn’t been a tropical storm in the Atlantic, according to AccuWeather.

There have only been three named storms so far this season — Alex, Bonnie and Colin — with the last one, Colin, dissipating on July 3, meaning this 55-day streak is the third-longest time in Atlantic hurricane history without a named storm since 1995.

The longest dry spell since 1995 has been 61 days, from June 18 through Aug. 18 in 1999. However, that two-month run of inactivity was followed by a frenetic conclusion of the hurricane season that featured five Category 4 storms (Bret, Cindy, Floyd, Gert and Lenny) and the drenching Category 2 Irene, which achieved a rarity, with its eye passing over Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties in mid-October.

Forecasters say dry air, Saharan dust and wind shear have been among the reasons there haven’t been more storms this year.

The most active part of hurricane season is from now, mid-August, until the end of October, with Sept. 10 the statistical peak of the season.

The last Atlantic hurricane was Sam, which became a hurricane Sept. 24 and maintained that status until Oct. 5 as it cut a path between the United States and Bermuda.

Of the three named storms so far this season, only Alex made its presence known in South Florida by dumping as much as 12 inches of rain in some areas.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued its updated hurricane season predictions earlier this month.

NOAA predicts 14 to 20 named storms and six to 10 hurricanes with three to five being major, meaning Category 3 or higher.

Hurricane season ends Nov. 30.