After that, four more storms came and went, all staying away from the United States. With only five storms this season, it's the fewest since 1983! The next storm (should it form) is Fay. Perhaps that will be the storm that makes a hit. But the chance isn't very likely at this point.
The 2014 Atlantic Hurricane Season comes on the heels of a very quiet season last year. In fact, it seems as if the active season of 2005 broke the “storm machine!” It's been nine years since a Category 3+ hurricane made landfall in the United States!
2005 was the most active storm season in recorded history. The season was the first to use "V" and "W" names, and when the season ran out of official alphabetical names after Wilma, Meteorologists went to the Greek alphabet for the first time. Four major hurricanes made landfall along the Gulf Coast in 2005. The eleventh named storm of the season went on to be one of the worst hurricanes in U.S. history: Katrina. Killing more than 1,000 people and causing more than a hundred billion dollars in damage, Katrina exceeded the worst-case scenarios in many people’s heads and became the most costly weather disaster in U.S. history.
But since that disaster, it's as if the storm machine was shut off like a switch! One caveat is Super Storm Sandy which slammed the coast of New Jersey, lashing a record blow to New England around Halloween 2012. While controversial at the time, the National Hurricane Center changed the designation of Hurricane Sandy 2 1/2 hours before landfall calling it a "non-tropical storm." For that reason, and the fact that a major hurricane has to have wind of at least 111 mph, we can’t really call Sandy a major hurricane. Nonetheless, Sandy did go on to produce $68 Billion in damage which was widespread from Massachusetts to the Carolinas.
But what happened since then? For one, a strong shearing wind has prevented storm formation in the ITCZ (Intertropical Convergence Zone). The ITCZ is the area from western Africa into the Caribbean where most tropical storms and hurricanes form, especially in the most active months of September and October. High winds aloft have prevented any systems from developing closed circulating low pressure systems. And with these high winds aloft set to continue through the end of the season, no significant storms are expected…at least here in the ITCZ.
Another reason for a lack of storms this year could be the pause in warming temperatures. Cooler than normal air temperatures have been observed across the U.S. Cooler temperatures and more progressive cool fronts moving into the Gulf of Mexico have kept the conditions unfavorable for development.
Tropical storm and hurricane formation is still possible this late in the season in the western Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico. Should one form here, the track would favor Florida and the eastern Gulf Coast. But again, the atmospheric conditions are not going to be favorable for development in the next few weeks. And the farther we get away from September 10th (the midpoint of hurricane season) the probability of storms will continue to drop dramatically.
The quantity of storms in a season doesn’t matter nearly as much as whether a storm affects the coastline or a city. You probably don’t remember much about the 1989, 1992, or 2004 hurricane seasons but those were the years of Hugo, Andrew, Charley, and Ivan. All it takes is one.