Although the official Atlantic hurricane season is six months long, the bulk of the activity typically occurs in half of that time, between August and October. And right on cue — in August’s first week — two areas of disturbed weather show signs of development in the deep tropics: one in the central Caribbean and one just off the coast of Africa.
Both could conceivably threaten the United States next week, but could also miss the coast entirely or fail to develop.
The eastern disturbance, which just emerged off Africa’s west coast, is centered roughly 350 miles south of the Cabo Verde islands. Computer models generally forecast it to develop into a tropical storm — and maybe more — in the coming days.
As of Friday morning, however, it was poorly organized and lacked persistent thunderstorm activity — so development is expected to be slow.
If this system does become a tropical storm, as it’s expected to, the models agree on a west-northwest track for the next week or so, which would bring it close to the Leeward Islands next Friday. The potential exists for it to be a hurricane by then.
Beyond that, it is way too soon to speculate on its ultimate course.
The disturbance in the central Caribbean (which left the African coast last Saturday) is worth watching, but little is expected of it in the immediate future. It is embedded in a hostile environment and appeared barely recognizable as a feature of interest early Friday.
But after it crosses the Yucatán Peninsula by Tuesday, there is potential for it to rapidly develop in the Gulf of Mexico. Coastal areas along the western half of the Gulf should be aware of this possibility because, if it happens, landfall could occur sometime around next Thursday.
The next two disturbances that become tropical storms will be named Franklin and Gert.
Hurricane season starting customary August ramp up
As you can see in the chart below, this is the time of year when the tropical storm activity begins to markedly increase, on average.
Forecasters and coastal residents need to now closely monitor the entire Atlantic basin, including the deep tropics off Africa, the Caribbean Sea, the Gulf of Mexico, the area around the Bahamas, etc.
If you live along the U.S. south or east coast, this is the time to have developed an emergency plan in case a hurricane threatens.