Hurricane Florence has been carried off to her reward after giving the island of Bermuda a good blow. Florence is now "extra-tropical," meaning, basically, that it is being absorbed by more routine weather systems across the North Atlantic. Top sustained winds remain at 75 mph, however, and Atlantic Canada is taking some bad weather today. Next stop: Ireland.
In the meantime, the tropical Atlantic continues to kick up storms. Hurricane Gordon, now at 90 mph appears doomed to spin its life away far at sea, which is just fine with Bermuda and with us. And now a depression that will likely become Tropical Storm Helene has begun its existence in the far eastern Atlantic.
So far, these storms have spent their energies primarily at sea, swept to the north and east after leaving the tropics by steering winds around strong high pressure over the central Atlantic. That high spins clockwise, and it is hauling these storms around the west side of its circulation - from "six o'clock to 12 o'clock," if you will - before they can approach the U.S. east coast. Had that high been situated farther west, we might be seeing these hurricanes sweeping up into the Carolinas.
We may have El Nino to thank, in part, for that. The episodic warming of surface waters in the central and eastern tropical Pacific shifts weather patterns around the globe. Shearing winds and displaced circulation tends to suppress hurricane formation in the Atlantic.