After a 2017 hurricane season of record setting storms in the Atlantic, 2018 has, thankfully, been very uneventful thus far. We are entering the peak of the season so we are not out of the woods yet, but three key phenomena are conspiring to make an environment very inhospitable for storm development. First is the water in the deep tropics between Africa and the outer Caribbean islands is cooler than average. For any storms forming off Africa this is not helpful, as warm water and the resulting volatile air masses is needed to sustain and nurture the storm on its journey west.
Second factor in play here is the air is unseasonably dry in the western Atlantic, stretching in a band from Bermuda to Cuba. As storms gain momentum on their move across the Atlantic, humid air is key to acceleration and growth. Without it, likelihood of graduating to hurricane status is low.
The last phenomena working against hurricane formation is the strong possibility of an El Nino in the Atlantic Basin this season. With El Nino comes significant wind shear, subsequently preventing thunderstorm development, a key ingredient in all major named storms.
There have still been conditions favorable enough for five named storms to develop in the 2018 season so far, however they have been weaker than average and much shorter-lived. Statistically, the most significant storms have occurred in the late August to late September time frame, so it is wise to remain vigilant despite the factors in play this year thwarting significant storms taking flight.
Over Labor Day weekend, the season became a bit more active in the Atlantic Basin with two named stores and a third disturbance to watch. Tropical Storm Florence continues to spin in the Atlantic, well off the coast of Florida. Currently, Florence is projected to veer north and not make landfall in the U.S. Tropical Storm Gordon is in the Gulf of Mexico near the Florida Keys, moving west-northwest at 17 mph. Gordon is expected to make landfall early Wednesday morning in eastern Louisiana. A small disturbance off the coast of Africa is on the radar but has a low chance of developing into a storm.