Hurricanes, like Hurricane Irene here in 2011, are the one thing missing from the 2013 Atlantic hurricane season. (Image Source: Flickr: dsleeter_2000)
Yesterday, meteorologists noted a sudden change in the development of Tropical Storm Gabrielle, and have reduced its status to tropical depression, making its threats to the Caribbean and Central America trivial, akin to a big rainstorm. With Gabrielle fizzling out, it is the seventh named storm in the Atlantic hurricane season to conclude. What makes it interesting is that, like every other named storm, Gabrielle did not turn into a hurricane. As a result, coming after the mass destruction caused by last season, the 2013 Atlantic hurricane season is set to be one of the calmest on record.
According to official records and estimates, the average Atlantic hurricane season has had six named storms, in the form of tropical storms or hurricanes, by this point in time, with the seventh usually appearing around September 14. Granted, that does mean there has been a greater quantity of activity. However, by this point in time, a named tropical storm has usually attained hurricane status, which has not been the case this year.
While the season unofficially starts in June, when the conditions for hurricanes to form are ripe, and the season meteorologists declare hurricane season to effectively begin only when a tropical storm officially becomes a hurricane, which is when the storms winds exceed 74 mph/119 kph. If no hurricanes are to develop in the next ten days, the 2013 hurricane season would set a record in the latest "start" of the season.
This is not to say that late "starts" to the Atlantic hurricane season are unusual. Previous odd-numbered seasons, including 2011 and 2009, did not have their first hurricane until mid to late August. However, the fact that there are an average number of named storms this year indicates that 2013 is a much quieter season than is usual, which may come as relief to residents on the Atlantic coast, Caribbean, and Central America.
Of course, it may be too soon to declare 2013 the quietest hurricane season in recent years or recorded history. After all, in 2012, the Atlantic hurricane season was an average season until near the very end, when Hurricane Sandy gained Category 3 status and wrecked the Jersey Shore and parts of New York City around Halloween. Still, that the 2013 hurricane season has been fairly quiet comes as a lift for many, especially New Jersey and New York residents still rebuilding after Hurricane Sandy. And it is nice to know that at least one weather-related phenomenon has not been causing trouble. So here's to that.