Humberto, now a Category 1 hurricane with winds near 75 miles per hour, has become the first hurricane of the Atlantic season. The storm, near the Cape Verde islands, remains far out to sea:

Forecast models project Humberto will head on a course towards the north and northwest, no threat to major land areas. Such storms, which remain mainly over open water, are sometimes referred to as “fish storms.”

Aside from Humberto, the tropical Atlantic remains fairly quiet.

But coastal resident should continue to monitor the tropics, [the National Hurricane Center] cautions.

“It is a mistake to believe that the second half of the season would resemble the first half,” Dennis Feltgen, spokesman with the NHC, tells USA Today.

Jason Samenow

The hurricane season has been quiet so far, despite the recent formation of Humberto and two other storms, Ingrid and Gabrielle:

Today’s flare-up of activity notwithstanding, the Atlantic hurricane season has certainly gotten off to a slow start. In terms of ACE (Accumulated Cyclone Energy), the 2013 season is at about 20 percent of an average season for this date.

As of the end of August, the ACE was 8.35 (the units are in 10,000 knots squared), the lowest since 2002 (and then 1988, 1984, and several other years prior).

Since the aircraft reconnaissance era began in 1944, eight seasons had a weaker start (through the end of August) than this year.

Among them, the most active ended up being 1967 with an ACE of 122, then 1988 with an ACE of 103, then the other six all fell between 22 and 84. The ACE as of this morning is 10.

So, if history is any guide, this season will have a real hard time reaching much above average. Sure, the remainder could still be quite active, but there’s a lot of a ground to make up just to reach “normal”.

Brian McNoldy

NASA has been monitoring hurricanes with two scientific drones:

HS3 Hurricane Mission looks at how storms are affected by the environments through which they are moving. And according to principal investigator Scott Braun, it also examines what is going on inside the storms. The project is studying how processes in a hurricane’s eye wall and rain band affect the intensification of a storm. To do that, NASA is using two Global Hawk drones, AV-1 and AV-6. The former is the first Global Hawk ever built.

HS3 is a three-year mission funded under NASA’s Earth Venture program that flies out of NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility. Last year was the first year of flights, but they only had one aircraft available. This year they have both drones up and running, although they only run one at a time because it takes six pilots in two shifts to keep them in the air for a full flight. Each full flight runs between 22 to 26 hours depending on which drone they are using and the weight of their payload.

The drones are deployed above the storms and collect data using a variety of tools. One of the tools is a dropsonde, a paper towel roll-sized tube with a parachute and GPS sensors inside that can tell NASA scientists its exact position. “From that,” Braun says, “we can determine how it’s moving with the wind, which allows us to get the wind speed and wind direction — also some information on vertical motions in the air.”

Andrea Peterson

The latest date on which the first hurricane of the Atlantic season formed in the modern era was Sept. 11, 2002, when Gustav was categorized as a hurricane.


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