What does the backloaded hurricane season have in store next?

Latest update on the tropics provided by Local 10 Hurricane Specialist and Storm Surge Expert Michael Lowry

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I often liken hurricane season to a baseball game – the first few innings may not require too much attention from us but deeper into the season, the play can be fast and consequential.

If hurricane season were a baseball game, we’re roughly at the 7th inning stretch, a tradition that usually signals a short break in play.

We may get that much needed break this week in the Atlantic, but after the devastating past few weeks with Hurricanes Fiona and Ian, we’re left to wonder what the 8th and 9th innings have in store this year.

Back on the traditional peak of the hurricane season on September 10th, we took some time in the daily newsletter to marinate on the quiet season to date.

Despite some activity in early September, the season was running well below average and at its least active to date since 2015. The usually reliable seasonal predictors like very warm tropical waters and a banner La Niña in the eastern Pacific would’ve suggested a very active season, but at the time, seasonal activity was scraping the bottom 30th percentile.

We didn’t have a good explanation on the quiet season but reminded readers South Florida’s odds of a hurricane encounter increase into October and that it only takes one particularly bad hurricane to reverse feelings of a quiet season. Nothing feels truer today.

Tropical activity in the Atlantic catapulted back to more seasonal averages after the rash of powerful hurricanes to round out September.

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Accumulated Cyclone Energy or ACE – the scorecard we use to gauge hurricane season activity – is only a few ticks from its October 3rd average, but we know not to let our guards down in October.

October surprises are a staple of hurricane season – from Hurricane Opal’s rapid strengthening in the northern Gulf in October 1995, to Category 5 Hurricane Mitch becoming one of the deadliest tropical cyclones in Atlantic history in October 1998, to Wilma setting the record for most intense Atlantic hurricane before blasting through South Florida in October 2005, to Superstorm Sandy’s historic blow to New Jersey and New York in October 2012, to Hurricane Michael’s catastrophic Category 5 landfall in the Florida panhandle in 2018 – the examples are endless.

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We’ll keep a watchful eye in the coming weeks, but today in the tropics nothing appears threatening or imminent.

The only disturbance with potential land interaction is Invest 91L that’ll be approaching the islands of the eastern Caribbean by mid-week.

Our forecast guidance shows a rather conducive environment ahead, but models are still only lukewarm on its future. Regardless, for us in South Florida, strong high-pressure steering will likely keep this one moving due westward and well south of us into the upcoming weekend.

That’s still a little ways out, so we’ll monitor the forecasts trends, but for now, it isn’t a concern.

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Otherwise, a tropical depression may come together in the far eastern Atlantic this week but will stay out over open waters.

While it’s not the cheery 7th inning stretch we’re accustomed to, the break this week at least gives some reprieve to continue the clean up and begin the lengthy process of recovering from the life-altering disasters of the quiet season that wasn’t.


About the Author:

Michael Lowry is Local 10's Hurricane Specialist and Storm Surge Expert.