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Wednesday, August 28, 2013
Last week, I wrote about the relative lack of tornadoes in the United States for two years running. While we're at it, where are all the hurricanes?
Most forecasters, including the National Hurricane Center, have projected a somewhat stronger Atlantic hurricane season than normal. Yet we are rapidly approaching the end of August without a single hurricane having formed in the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean or Gulf of Mexico.
There have been plenty of tropical storms that have garnered names - six of them. But none of them intensified into a hurricane, with 74 mph winds.
In general, ocean conditions have been favorable for tropical development, with lots of warm water, but for various atmospheric and geographical reasons, the storms that have formed so far haven't matured into full-blown hurricanes.
The specific reasons have varied from storm to storm, but generally center on regions of dry and/or sinking air choking off convection, the rising of warmth and moisture essential for tropical systems to mature.
Tropical Storm Fernand developed in the western Gulf of Mexico on Sunday and died Monday. It probably would have become the season's first hurricane, except for one thing: It was already almost ashore when it developed. So while it showed some good structure, it just ran out of ocean before moving inland and weakening.
Moving forward, don't expect this total dearth of hurricanes to continue. Quite likely, there will be a burst of activity sometime in September, as atmospheric conditions shift while sea surface temperatures remain high .
Historically, about one in six Atlantic tropical seasons fails to have a hurricane before Sept. 1. Most tend to be fairly tame , but some quickly turn very active.
So this is no time for coastal areas to let their guard down on hurricane season. But let's be thankful we haven't had a violent August on the coast - and that our summer didn't get any soggier as the result of an inland tropical system.
Wet summer ending
When summer ends is often as much a cultural thing as a calendar matter. Many people consider summer to end when school begins or with Labor Day.
Meteorological summer ends Saturday, the last day of August, about three weeks before astronomical summer ends, the one shown on the calendar. So in this case, meteorological summer is more similar to cultural summer than the calendar is.
August has been quite a bit drier than June and July, but summer 2013 is still among the wettest on record in Southwest Virginia.
Roanoke, at 21.18 inches of rain since June 1, needs another 0.11 inches of rain this rest of this week for the summer to move into third place, surpassing 21.28 inches in 1937. Roanoke weather records go back to 1912.
Blacksburg, at 17.40 inches, needs only 0.03 inches for the summer to move to fourth wettest, surpassing 17.42 inches in 1996. Blacksburg weather records date to 1952.
It may come down primarily to how much rain that possible clusters of showers and storms dump today.
The record wettest summers - 26.85 inches for Roanoke in 1940, 19.82 inches for Blacksburg in 1992 - are likely to stand.
Weather Journal runs on Wednesday.
Weather JournalStorm track isn't very snowy for us