If you're like me, you may be thinking this hurricane season has been pretty quiet, so far. Well, not quite. Especially when you rewind to mid May when we had our first named storm of the season - Alberto. Keep in mind, the Atlantic hurricane season doesn't officially start until June 1st. Not only did we have Alberto develop before the standard start to hurricane season, but also Beryl. Both tropical storms developed off the Southeast U.S. coast (Alberto formed off the coast of South Carolina and Beryl, in the Gulf, West of Florida). Here's a neat graphic that shows the track of the 2012 named storms, to date.
Hurricane Ernesto is the fifth named storm and the second hurricane of the season. Ernesto developed in the Tropical Atlantic August 1st East of the Windward islands. Ernesto stayed at tropical storm strength, with winds between 35 and 65 mph from August 1st through early August 7th. Late in the day, Tuesday, August 7th, Ernesto became more organized and wind speeds made it to 80 mph categorizing the storm as a Category 1 hurricane. Take a look at a satellite image of Hurricane Ernesto, as it approached the Yucatan peninsula. This is courtesy of NASA's Terra satellite taken August 7, 2012 at 10:25am EDT. *Ernesto was still a Tropical Storm at this point, so that's why you can't pick out a distinct eye wall.
- NASA Terra Satellite
So now that it's early August we're starting to see more developing in the tropics. Take a look at the latest graphical outlook from the National Hurricane Center. The only named storm is Ernesto, but the NHC is watching two other waves in the Atlantic that have the potential of strengthening and becoming more organized.
Peak Atlantic hurricane season, which you can see in the graph below, is anywhere from mid August through mid October. Early to mid September is the prime time for tropical storms and hurricanes to develop since sea surface temperatures over the Atlantic are the warmest. We're now in to early August and starting to see the tropics become more active.
So far the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season has had two hurricanes: Chris and Ernesto and four tropical storms: Alberto, Beryl, Debby, and Florence. Tropical storm Florence was short lived, but that means the next named storm will be Gordon. The names are used alphabetically and alternate between male and female names. Here's the full list of tropical storm names for the next six years. If the names look familiar, it's because the list is recycled every six years, but sometimes names are "retired" if they cause considerable damage or casualties. Wondering how this compares to NOAA's initial seasonal outlook? Find out in Meteorologist Chris Naile's blog from the end of May.
The StormWatch7 Weather team will monitor the tropics closely, especially since we're moving into the statistical most active part of the tropical season.