June 1 is the first day of 2011's hurricane season, and there's already a big storm near Florida worth watching.
- 93L chugging along at 20 m.p.h. near Jacksonville, Fla., on June 1. Forecasters give the storm a 30 percent chance of blowing up into a tropical cyclone. (NOAA/GOES-13)
Today is the first day of meteorological summer, but it’s also the inauguration of hurricane season. Forecasters who study these leviathans of weather are predicting an unusually active year for hurricanes, with estimates ranging from a low of seven to eight (Earth Networks) to a high of six to 10 (NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center). Six hurricanes is the historical average per year in the United States.
And lookee here: There’s already a low-pressure area worth watching that’s creeping out of the Atlantic Basin, birthplace of East Coast/Gulf-states cyclones.
This interesting disturbance, which government meteorologists know affectionately as 93L, is gusting westward about 200 miles off the shore of Jacksonville, Fla. Carrying a substantial load of thunder and lightning, it has a 30 percent chance of growing into a tropical cyclone in the next two days, according to the National Hurricane Center.
The thing appears to have grown out of a cold front that traveled over the U.S. in the past few days. Over at Hurricane Track (where you can buy your own 2011 tracking map!), Mark Sudduth notes that the trailing end of such fronts can channel energy over warm ocean waters that results in storm formation. Because there is a lot of high pressure in the neighborhood, Sudduth gives this disturbance “not much chance” of surging into a tropical cyclone. So get a look at it now before it probably dissipates:
The hurricane season officially ends on Nov. 30, with its peak occurring from August to October. About 97 percent of all hurricane activity falls within season. The outliers that rise unexpectedly from the ocean out of season can be seen in the below graph, put together by NOAA’s hurricane research division, showing the incidence of tropical storms, hurricanes and major hurricanes from 1851 to 2009.