It was a nice break as long as it lasted! Since Elsa dissipated on July 9, we’ve had a nice 3.5 week break with the development of new tropical systems. Saharan dust contributed to limit tropical development, frequent in June and July. The Atlantic is waking up as August approaches.
The hurricane season in the Atlantic is most active from August to October, so it is common to see tropical activity resume during this time. NOAA released its updated outlook for the hurricane season on Wednesday and maintains its forecast of an above-normal hurricane season. There is a 65% chance that we will see a season above par and only a 10% chance of a season below par.
The good news is that this year’s season is unlikely to be as active as it was last year, when there were 30 named storms. So far we have had 5 named storms in 2021. By this point in last year’s record season we had already hit our 9th, Isaias, which impacted NC.
Sea surface temperatures aren’t as warm as they were last year, and that’s a good thing as warmer temperatures help strengthen and nourish tropical systems.
Why so active then? Two main reasons. The first is that there will likely be an increase in monsoon activity in West Africa this month, which helps plant seeds for the development of low pressure systems as they enter for the first time in the Atlantic off the African coast. In fact, we are already monitoring one of those waves over Africa right now for possible development.
The second reason is a possible transition from neutral conditions to La Nina later this summer. A La Nina watch was issued due to this possibility. The La Nina years are associated with a decrease in wind shear in the Atlantic basin. With less wind shear to disrupt or tear systems apart, it is easier for tropical systems to grow and strengthen.
Ultimately, all signs point to an active season, so don’t let your guard down despite the hurricane hiatus briefly. Keep an eye on the forecast for the coming months and make sure your emergency kits and plans are ready for use if needed. Our team of meteorologists will keep you up to date with the airwaves and you can always see the latest tropical outlook by watching our tropical update video on WRAL.com.