PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — The 2023 hurricane season is off to a calm start, or is it? If you just go by the number we are ahead of schedule on a typical season 5 system going into August where the typical number is 3. Overall though we have not had a system impact land yet as a name and 4 of the 5 systems have been tropical storms or weaker for their peak intensity. The first storm of the year was an unnamed sub-tropical system in January. The number seems like it’s been active, the reality of the season so far is that it has struggled to be anything up to this point.
A lot of talks in the season from hypers to universities to the National Hurricane Center (NHC) have been about how warm the water is and rightfully they are to talk about it. The waters are warm historically so but warm water will not make systems form. You first have to have the right environmental conditions. The right setup is for light upper-level winds with plenty of moisture and ideally, a trough or wave axis for convection to be able to flare up on. You need that first once you have a system starting to organize it’s all about the air that it’s moving into. Again the more moisture or higher relative humidity in the mid-levels the better. The system will then want low shear so that it can keep its organization. Then the water temps come to play the warmer the water, generally accepted at 78°F and up should support tropical action, the faster the storm can become strong. The water temps act as storm fuel but if you don’t have a storm then it’s just like gas sitting next to a car it has potential but the car is not going to start without the gas in the car.
What are some important factors to keep an eye on for the remainder of the season? One of them is the presence of high pressure and dry air over the Atlantic, which includes the Saharan dust. Is the eastern Pacific active this will through shear across the Caribbean and keep storms out of there. Do we keep the troughs around the east, this will make the system want to turn up and out to sea before reaching the lower 48.
I am optimistic that the season follows that of El Nino in the past but it’s best to keep up with the weather and stay prepared. If an active season happens or an inactive one all it takes is that one storm so keep up with the latest!