The tropics remain quiet midway through the first two months of the 2007 Atlantic Basin Hurricane season, and that has many people thinking that hurricane forecasters, including AccuWeather.com Chief Hurricane Forecaster Joe Bastardi, were wrong in their forecasts for the 2007 Atlantic Basin Hurricane Season.
There have been only three named tropical storms to date, including a subtropical storm (Andrea) that lasted 36 hours off the southeast Atlantic Coast, a tropical storm (Barry) that was downgraded to a tropical depression before making landfall on June 2 near Tampa, Fla., and the latest tropical storm (Chantal) that had no impact on the U.S.
As a result of a quiet period lasting almost two months, many residents of hurricane-prone areas may have let down their guard, which could be a mistake.
While many hurricane forecasters have changed their forecasts to reflect their forecast of a reduced number of storms, Bastardi and his team of forecasters have not deviated from the forecast issued on May 8, 2007.
In May, AccuWeather.com called for a total of 13 or 14 storms in the Atlantic Basin, with three or more likely to be major hurricanes (Category 3 or higher).
Today, Bastardi says while that forecast has not changed, the real forecast issue is where the storms will go and how strong they will be when they get there.
Bastardi believes six or seven of the storms could strike the U.S. coast, with Florida being the primary target. However, he cautions the majority of the landfalls could occur from the Mississippi River delta to the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
A major concern for the AccuWeather.com hurricane forecast team is the potential for late-developing storms that intensify close to land rather than over open water. There are four factors that will establish that scenario:
- The reversal of the El Niño to a neutral or La Niña
- The warm cycle of the AMO that began in the mid-90s
- The very warm water in the Gulf of Mexico and northwestern Caribbean
- The reversal of upper level winds to a direction more conducive to intense storms
Bastardi believes the tropics will continue to be relatively inactive for the next two to three weeks, which would bolster his forecast of fewer storms in the eastern Atlantic and more concern to the west.
Historically, the heart of the hurricane season does not begin until mid-August, and Bastardi feels this season is a very close fit to the analog years. "It appears to be a fit that matches our ideas. However, let me be clear, anything before the 15th of August, perhaps even the 20th, is gravy. After that, it may be a track race."