Nov 7, 2013 4:46 PM by Daniel Phillips
At the start of the 2013 Atlantic Hurricane Season forecaster generally agreed that this would be an active year. Forecasts called for a higher then average number of storms, with decent chances that a major hurricane would impact the United States.
As you are aware, this didn't turn out to be the case. In fact this hurricane season will go down as a historically quiet season; not quite record setting but so far is in the top 5 quietest seasons.
One measure scientists use to determine how active a hurricane season has been is with a measurement known as Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE). This year the ACE totaled 29, the record low number is 17. To put into perspective how low this number is an above average year is considered to have an ACE of 111, and the record for the highest ACE after the 2005 season was 250.
Meteorologists believe there are several contributing factors that went in to making this such a quiet season. One that was talked about extensively during the Storm Team 3's forecasts this year was the amount of African dust moving across the Atlantic. The dust is often associated with cool sinking air, effectively killing off any kind of tropical development. Mixed with cool dry air that moved in from the north and these two major factors played a major role in limiting formation off the Cape Verde Islands, a traditional hot spot for tropical development.
On top of this all summer long the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico saw a high amount of wind shear, another factor that can greatly reduce tropical activity. Strong winds aloft will tear apart a towering tropical system, and rapidly cause a system to be downgraded. This was the case with the short lived Tropical Storm Karen which briefly threatened Louisiana and Tropical Storm Chantal in the Caribbean.
Tropical activity, however, is not unique to the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. Systems do occur in the Pacific Ocean, and they're season has been far from quiet. The eastern Pacific saw an above average 21 named storms this year, with 8 of them being hurricanes (one major hurricane). In fact just last week western Mexico was hit with Tropical Strom Sonia.
It has been just as busy in the western Pacific, with 30 named storms (the most since 2004) and seven typhoons since October alone. India was hit with Super Typhoon Lekima which packed winds of up to 130 mph. Now, in early November, the Philippines are being hit with Super Typhoon Haiyan. To say that Haiyan is a monster storm would be an understatement, at last report the storm had a well defined eye and contained winds of up to 195 mph and gusts of 235 mph!
So although all was quiet through the Atlantic Basin and Gulf of Mexico this season, the same can not be said for the tropical season that is going on in the Pacific.