By Chris Gilberti | September 5, 2022
Credit: Wikimedia Commons
The peak of hurricane season in the Atlantic is fast approaching, however this season has only seen four named storms so far, none of which have reached hurricane-force winds of 74 mph. That is remarkably below average for this point in the season, which makes sense as this August was only the fifth time in recorded history where there was not a named storm during that month.
Many may remember hearing about how this year was supposed to be yet another above average year for tropical system development in the Atlantic. Even though many are calling that forecast a bust due to the slow start, a lot can change quickly if the right ingredients come into place. Given this, it is certainly plausible that at the very least we will reach the average of 14 named storms for the season.
Part of the reason for the year’s slow start has been the large amount of dust being blown from the Sahara Desert across the Atlantic. An active thunderstorm season in Africa has aided in the development of large dust storms, which trade winds can carry from the desert to the Atlantic. For tropical systems to form over the ocean, conditions have to be just right. So even if ocean temperatures are plenty warm enough for tropical development, large amounts of dry Saharan dust can easily prohibit storms from procuring enough moisture to organize and form into tropical storms or hurricanes.
The Five-Day Graphical Tropical Weather Outlook above displays a map of the Atlantic Ocean and the location of current tropical systems and disturbances that have a chance of forming into tropical systems within the next five days.
Credit: NOAA National Hurricane Center
In the last few days, there has been a lull in these dust storms being sent across the ocean. This has allowed the formation of Hurricane Danielle, the first hurricane of the season and the first tropical storm to be named since back on May 16 with Tropical Storm Colin. While Danielle is not expected to have impacts here in the United States, other systems seem to be taking advantage of the new “lack” of Saharan dust. Tropical Storm Earl has also just formed further south. While it is currently close to the islands of the Caribbean, it is expected to make a northern turn away from land. Otherwise, conditions will have to be continually monitored to see if there are any more lulls in the Saharan Air Layer that could aid in the formation of new storms.
Many remember that just over the last few years some storms have had impacts in New York State, such as tropical storm Isaias and hurricanes Henri and Ida. These recent storms have caused catastrophic flooding in places such as NYC, setting back-to-back all-time record rainfalls with Henri and Ida. Albany and the rest of upstate New York are no strangers to tropical weather either as many recall the catastrophic flooding caused by Irene years ago and much more recently by Tropical Storm Isaias in 2020, both of which were the second and fourth heaviest rainfalls respectively in Albany history.
Given the likelihood of an increase in tropical system development in the Atlantic Ocean as we head into the peak of the season (around Sept. 10), many will be wondering what possible impacts could look like here in the Albany area. While it is, of course, hard to say whether or not we will see any impacts from a tropical system this year, it is certainly true that the chances have been increasing with every year that goes by. Strong tropical storms have been increasing in frequency and intensity in recent years, so it is important for everybody to stay aware of current and forecasted conditions. Even though it may be a few hours drive to the coast, we have learned that does not mean immunity from the devastating impacts of hurricanes and tropical storms.