Still waiting for the "A" storm
All these nice names on the shelf and not a single tropical storm to claim them: Ana, Bill, Claudette, Danny and 17 more names for the tropical storms and hurricanes that might pop up in the Atlantic basin this season. And here we are, Aug. 7, and still nothing.
Sure, it's good thing. These storms can wreak terrible damage, kill and maim. But still, it's curious. And the National Hurricane Center says we're not even close to setting a record for the latest-occurring "A" storm.
If you look at all the records dating back to 1851 - before the age of satellite observations - the latest first tropical storm to form took shape on Sept. 15. That was in 1914. The latest first storm to spin to hurricane force was detected on Oct. 8, 1905. They didn't give storms names back then - at least not the way we do today.
If you consider only the years since 1966, when satellite observations became comprehensive - presumably picking up more storms that don't happen to blow past ships at sea or coastal weather stations - the latest first tropical storm to form in the basin was Arlene, which was detected on Aug. 30, 1967. The latest first hurricane was Gustav, which reached hurricane strength on Sept. 11, 2002.
Forecasters say El Nino's likely to blame. The Pacific Ocean phenomenon sets up wind shear patterns in the Atlantic that can cut off hurricane development. (2002 was a "moderate" El Nino year, too. But 1967 was a weak La Nina year.)
So it's quiet. For now.
(NASA PHOTO/Gustav 2002)