An unusually calm Atlantic hurricane season is about to kick into action this week, with the potential for two tropical depressions.
An area of stormy weather about 875 miles from the border where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Caribbean Sea has an 80% chance of organizing into a tropical depression “at the very least” over the next five days — with a 50 percent chance. % over the next 48 hours — according to an update released Tuesday at 2 a.m. by the National Hurricane Center. A depression is the weakest form of tropical cyclone, a rotating low-pressure system classified as a depression, tropical storm, or hurricane depending on wind speed.
The system still lacks the well-defined center characteristic of tropical cyclones, according to the Hurricane Center. It is expected to move west and then west-northwest over the next few days, moving 5 to 10 mph toward the islands of the northeastern Caribbean, the hurricane center said. If it reaches tropical storm force, requiring wind speeds of at least 63 mph, it would be named Danielle.
The presence of wind shear near the Caribbean could be a barrier to further development beyond a tropical depression, according to AccuWeather, the private forecasting service.
The system is one of two low pressure areas being monitored for possible cyclone formation as the Atlantic settles into its traditional peak storm formation period. The most active part of the hurricane season is from mid-August to the end of October, with September 10 being the statistical peak of the season.
“It seems that September could really be the start of an active period in the tropics. A steady wave of energy rolling from Africa into the tropical Atlantic is expected to keep things active across the Atlantic basin for a while,” AccuWeather meteorologist Brandon Buckingham said.
A second area of interest is that a tropical wave off the west coast of Africa has a 40% chance of cyclone formation in the next five days and a 20% chance in the next two days.
After Danielle, Earl would be the next storm to form.
With only two days left in the month, AccuWeather says this could be just the third August since 1961 that there has been no tropical storm in the Atlantic.
There have been only three named storms so far this season—Alex, Bonnie, and Colin—and the last, Colin, dissipated on July 3, meaning this 58-day streak is the third longest in history. the Atlantic hurricane season has been without a named storm since 1995.
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The longest dry spell since 1995 has been 61 days, from June 18 to August 18 in 1999. However, that two-month period of inactivity was followed by a hectic conclusion to the hurricane season with five Category 4 storms (Bret, Cindy, Floyd, Gert and Lenny) and the soaking Category 2 Irene, who reached a rarity, with his eye going over Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties in mid-October. There was also a 59-day streak during the 2007 season.
Forecasters say dry air, Saharan dust and wind shear are among the reasons why there have been no more storms this year.
The last Atlantic hurricane was Sam, which became a hurricane on September 24 and maintained that status until October 5 when it carved a path between the United States and Bermuda.
Of the three storms mentioned so far this season, only Alex made his presence known in South Florida by dumping as much as a foot of rain in some areas.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released its updated hurricane season forecasts earlier this month.
NOAA forecasts 14 to 20 named storms and six to 10 hurricanes, with three to five being severe, meaning Category 3 or higher.
The hurricane season ends on November 30.