It’s late July and the tropical Atlantic is very quiet. Satellite images show a couple of tropical waves, but there aren’t any features present that pose a threat for tropical development over the next few days. The last tropical cyclone to occur was Hurricane Elsa in early July. A lot of folks have been asking what’s happened to the tropical weather season? Early season forecasts called for this to be a very active year, with an above normal number of storms.
Since early July, a combination of Sharan dust and widespread sinking air in the middle and upper atmosphere has kept on lid on any tropical waves from developing across the Atlantic. This is not all that unusual for the month of July. Remember back to last July when one of the thickest clouds of Saharan dust spread across the Atlantic, limiting storm development? The season still went on to end up with the most named storms on record, dating back to 1851.
The latest forecasts indicate a somewhat similar pattern could very well take place this year. Forecasts indicate quiet conditions should continue across the tropical Atlantic into early August, but storm development may begin to take place shortly after that as an area of rising air spreads over the Atlantic out of the eastern Pacific. Recent observations indicate Saharan dust levels have already begun to decrease.
By the second week of August, atmospheric and oceanic conditions are actually forecast to become quite favorable for tropical development across the Atlantic basin. And interestingly, these favorable conditions are predicted to persist through late August and possibly into September. In addition, some atmospheric indices are currently showing some similarities with those displayed in late July of 2005, 2017 and 2020. All three of these years featured very active seasons in the tropical Atlantic.
So don’t let the current quiet weather in the tropics fool you. Conditions will be changing as we move into August which should cause tropical cyclone activity to start cranking up.