2022′s hurricane season now officially more quiet than normal

There have been 3 named storms and 0 hurricanes as of the midway point of August
Published: Aug. 16, 2022 at 11:50 AM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The unusually quiet start to the hurricane season in the Atlantic may not last for much longer. That’s because the hostile environment that has discouraged tropical cyclone formation in the Atlantic is about to pack its bags.

It’s not often nearly all of July and most of August are free of named storms. That has been the case this year.

There have been three named storms and zero hurricanes in 2022.
There have been three named storms and zero hurricanes in 2022.(WSFA 12 News)

Only three named storms have formed so far, with none of them reaching hurricane status. It has actually been a month and a half since Colin faded over North Carolina back on July 3rd. This puts us behind the “normal” pace of a hurricane season -- something that may come as a surprise given the active forecast from NOAA and Colorado State University.

The quiet start doesn’t necessarily correlate to a quiet rest of the season. It’s possible to go from having a dormant Atlantic Basin to having a very active period. While an onslaught of storms isn’t exactly in the forecast, the likelihood of activity picking up quite a bit over the next few months is high.

Saharan dust helps keep the Atlantic quiet.
Saharan dust helps keep the Atlantic quiet.(WSFA 12 News)

That’s mainly because the amount of Saharan dust and wind shear will decrease over the open waters of the Atlantic as August comes to a close. Saharan dust and wind shear both discourage tropical cyclone development. Their presence is not the sole reason why the season has been inactive to date, but it’s a huge part of the equation.

Saharan dust causes cooler water temperatures and keeps the atmosphere very dry. Both of those are hinderances to tropical cyclone formation. For the impact that wind shear has on tropical systems let’s just take a helpful bit from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA):

“Wind shear is a change in wind speed with height. Strong upper level winds destroy the storms structure by displacing the warm temperatures above the eye and limiting the vertical accent of air parcels. Hurricanes will not form when the upper level winds are too strong.”

Water temps are near or above normal for most of the tropical Atlantic.
Water temps are near or above normal for most of the tropical Atlantic.(WSFA 12 News)

So it’s fair to assume that decreasing amounts of dust and wind shear combined with peak hurricane season arriving will almost certainly lead to an uptick in tropical activity. Not only out in the Atlantic Ocean, but across the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico too.

It’s impossible to say where and when exact storms will form beyond a couple of weeks. What we can do is look at a variety of variables -- in addition to dust and shear -- to help us understand how active (or inactive) a particular stretch will be. Right now it looks like the right ingredients will be in place to allow for storm development to happen more frequently over the next few months.

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