Hurricane Season Seems to be Heating Up

Thursday, 11 Aug 2011 07:03 AM

 

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Three weather systems in the Atlantic are being watched by the National Hurricane Center, one of them a large disturbance off Africa that may signal the start of the most active part of the hurricane season.

The center is also monitoring an area of thunderstorms near Florida and the remains of Tropical Storm Emily, now 675 miles (1,086 kilometers) south-southeast of Cape Race, Newfoundland. Another wave of storms is likely to move into the Atlantic within days.

“Next week looks to be an active one with possibly two storms, one of which could represent a threat to the East Coast,” said Jim Rouiller, senior energy meteorologist at Planalytics Inc. in Berwyn, Pennsylvania.

Aug. 20 marks the start of the busiest part of the Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1 through Nov. 30. Colorado State University’s William Gray, who pioneered hurricane seasonal forecasting, likes to ring a bell on Aug. 20 to alert his colleagues that the most powerful storms of the year may be about to form.

The Atlantic is usually at its warmest in late August, while there is less wind shear that can tear storms apart and the Jet Stream has moved farther north, said Paul Walker, an expert senior meteorologist at AccuWeather Inc. in State College, Pennsylvania.

Storms at this time of year tend to form in an area from the Cape Verde Islands off the coast of Africa to the Leeward Islands in the Caribbean. The area is known as the “main development region” and is where some of the most powerful storms on record have begun.

Systems Watched

The hurricane center is watching a system about 450 miles west-southwest of the islands that has a 20 percent chance of becoming a tropical storm or depression in the next two days.

“The Cape Verde hurricane season looks to start,” said Rouiller.

Walker said the disturbance off Cape Verde will have to contend with “loads of dry air” that can keep it from developing as it moves across the Atlantic. However, he said it’s a strong system and will be followed by another coming from Africa in the next few days.

An area of “disorganized showers and thunderstorms” about 200 miles east of the northern Florida coast has a 10 percent chance, the center said.

“It’s not a big one, but something we have to watch,” Walker said of the Florida system.

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