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New signs of tropical activity emerge amid quiet 1st month of Atlantic hurricane season

AccuWeather logo AccuWeather 4 days ago Alex Sosnowski

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The tropical Atlantic has remained quiet since Tropical Storm Alex came and went at the start of June. And while the first month of the season is typically less active than the latter stages of hurricane season, the current year is tracking well behind the prolific pace of the 2020 and 2021 seasons.

There are signs that an uptick in activity could occur before July, AccuWeather forecasters say. Meteorologists have been keeping a close eye on a series of disturbances that is tracking westward from the coast of Africa and will continue to do so in the coming days and weeks

Dry air, dust and stiff straight-line breezes have been and will remain extensive over much of the tropical waters of the Atlantic for the next several days. The conditions have made it too hostile for tropical disturbances to organize and strengthen into more potent systems.

The disturbances, known as tropical waves, represent weak areas of low pressure and rain squalls that move westward just north of the equator. When these waves are able to strengthen with an increase in winds and drop in pressure, a tropical depression or storm can be born.

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In this image, captured on Thursday, June 23, 2022, a batch of clouds associated with a weak tropical wave was located right of the center while a larger and stronger tropical wave was located near the right edge. Dust (brown) can be seen over the Caribbean Sea (left of center). (GOES-East/NOAA)

In addition to the dry air, dust and wind shear acting as deterrents, the tropical wave train is likely to stay very close to the equator this month and into early July. As a result, the waves will not get natural assistance from the physical effects of the Earth, unless they manage to drift farther to the north and away from the equator.

However, the fact that the wave train is so far south, and away from much of the dust and dry air, may allow these fledgling systems to survive while crossing the Atlantic.

"One particular wave that emerged from Africa at midweek has a weak wave running a couple of days ahead," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dan Pydynowski said. "This weak system is helping to push some of the dry air out of the way so that the air is moister in the path of the stronger wave while crossing the Atlantic through this weekend."

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The tropical wave may face another hurdle: the massive land mass of South America.

"In order for the tropical wave to have a better chance of organizing, it may have to shift farther to the north and over the open waters of the Caribbean Sea next week," Pydynowski said.

It is possible the system may encounter a more moist atmosphere with less dust and wind shear around the Caribbean, according to Pydynowski, who stated that the best chance of development to a tropical depression or storm may not occur until next week.

Even if conditions become more favorable for development, there is no guarantee a depression or tropical system will take shape.

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There have been no named storms in the Atlantic since Alex dissipated on June 6. The next storm that forms in the basin will be called Bonnie.

Last year, by the start of July, five tropical storms had formed. Those were Ana, Bill, Claudette, Danny and Elsa. The fourth storm, Danny formed on June 27 and dissipated on June 29. In 2020, there were also five named storms by early July.

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The fifth storm, Elsa, formed during the last few hours of June 30 in a relatively similar path over the south-central Atlantic to the ongoing tropical wave train this June. However, Elsa was a bit farther to the north and ramped up quickly to a hurricane near Barbados on July 2.

Elsa eventually crossed over western Cuba and hit the west coast of Florida in a weakened state in the days that followed. Damage from Elsa was estimated at $1.2 billion and mainly occurred in the Caribbean. Elsa, as a tropical depression or greater, traveled for thousands of miles.

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Regardless of whether the tropical wave develops or not, AccuWeather's team of tropical weather meteorologists, headed by Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski, expects an above-average season and above-average direct impacts on the U.S. for 2022. The team remains concerned that there could be one or more significant impacts on Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and the southeastern U.S. mainland this season.

Even though the Atlantic tends to remain relatively quiet during July and early August, the number of tropical storms and hurricanes tends to increase quickly later in August and during the middle of September. Hurricane season does not officially end until Nov. 30.

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