Tracking forecast for Tropical Storm Arthur.The first named tropical storm of 2014 formed in the Atlantic Ocean Monday. Tropical Storm Arthur formed off the coast of Florida and is expected to move gradually to the north and ultimately northeast over the next three to four days. Currently, forecasts are not calling for a landfall along the east coast (you don't have to panic, NYC) though Arthur is expected to reach at least category 1 hurricane strength as it passes the Carolinas, making for a rather wet and nasty weekend in that part of the country, particularly on the Outer Banks.
Thus marks the true beginning to hurricane season. June was very quiet in the tropical Atlantic, which was not surprising by this or any other year's standards. On average, about one named storm every other year forms in June. But, as the summer progresses and water temperatures began to warm up, it is time to cast a watchful eye on the tropics.
The good news is that, in addition to predictions this will be a slow season thanks to the effects of the El Niño weather phenomenon that spreads wind shear across the Atlantic basin inhibiting the growth of storms, so far sea surface temperatures (another significant storm incubator) remain rather low throughout the Atlantic. Looking at the last few years in comparison, there are still large swaths of both the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico that are quite cool by hurricane standards. And while there is quite a bit of substantially warm water in the northeastern Caribbean, that is the only place where warm water abounds in the basin.
With a developing El Niño, and no indications it won't be a fairly sizable weather pattern this year, and still low sea surface temperatures, it would seem to indicate the early predictions of a rather slow season remain on track. But, as the saying goes, it only takes one. In several "down years," hurricanes had significant impacts on both the Gulf and Atlantic coastlines including Hurricane Alicia here in 1983. So, don't let your guard down.
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What's in a name?
If you haven't looked over the list of names for Atlantic storms this year, it's worth a glance if only for amusement. While there are some rather utilitarian names on the list like Dolly, Fay, Hanna (no second H), Kyle, Sally, Teddy and Vicky, there are also names with Spanish flair like Cristobal, Edouard, Gonzalo, Isais and Marco. But the strangest pair of names were the ones that piqued my curiosity.
Wilfred? Where did that one come from? Were they enamored with that weird show on FX with Frodo and the guy that dresses up like a dog? Surely not.
But my favorite is Nana. How dangerous could a storm be that is named after your 90-year-old grandmother? Maybe it will rain cookies and milk. I prefer chocolate chip if you don't mind.