Cape Verde conga line begins

The Cape Verde Season, the time of year we see tropical systems develop in the eastern Atlantic near the Cape Verde Islands just off the coast of Africa, looks to have begun. Once underway, we tend to see tropical waves roll off the African coast like a tropical conga line. As of this posting, there are two areas of interest in the eastern Atlantic that we will be tracking in the coming days. For the latest on these systems or any other activity in the tropics check the National Hurricane Center home page. I would also suggest bookmarking this link but that’s just my opinion.

The newest forecast for the 2011 Atlantic Hurricane Season from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) calls for an above average hurricane season. In May, the official forecast from NOAA said there was a 65% likelihood that the season would be above normal. That likelihood has now been increased to 85% with the new update in August. The reason for the increase is based on what they are seeing and the tools they use to generate their forecast. Those tools include taking into account weather features atmospheric and oceanic conditions, large scale climate factors that are known to directly impact seasonal hurricane activity, and climate models.

So far this season we have had five tropical systems, with the last being Emily, however none of those storms reached hurricane strength. My fear is that some folks may have been lulled into a false sense of security and may assume that the season will not be active based on the storms we have seen so far. This couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact we are just now at the start, statistically speaking, when tropical activity begins to ramp up. There are actually two statistical peaks during hurricane season the first, main peak, around September 10th and the a second that occurs in mid to late October. Between these two peaks is when the tropics are the most active.


The updated forecast from NOAA is for 14-19 Named Storms; 7-10 Hurricanes; and 3-5 Major Hurricanes (Category 3 or stronger). Please note, that while tropical activity is expected to be above average and the forecast numbers have increased, this does not mean that all of the storms will take aim or make landfall in the U.S. However please also note that with potentially more systems in the tropics the threat to the U.S. goes up as well. Like we used to say when I lived and worked as a broadcast meteorologist in Southwest Florida “prepare, prepare, prepare! Remember, no matter where you live along the east or Gulf coast there is not one place that hasn’t been impacted by a hurricane.”

Historical paths of hurricanes from 1851 in the Atlantic via NOAA/NWS