Seems like a good weekend to think about the tropics, since warmth is nowhere to be found in our forecast. We’re stuck in an Ireland-like brisk, chilly and occasionally drizzly mode for a while.
Meanwhile, down in San Juan, Puerto Rico, high temperatures will be “stuck” between 85 and 87 degrees every day for at least the next week. How boring and predictable, yet a trend residents there hope will carry through the fall when hurricane season rolls around. And the first look by forecasters is encouraging.
After a couple of catastrophic years for deadly hurricanes in parts of the U.S. and the Caribbean, early predictions are calling for calmer conditions in the Atlantic this season. Researchers at Colorado State, one of the most acclaimed hurricane prediction centers in the country, foresee a slightly lower-than-average number of hurricanes and tropical storms will form off the East Coast and in the Gulf of Mexico this year. They also believe the storms will be less intense than the past two years.
The center estimates 13 named storms will form, just below the average of 15, and five will grow into hurricanes. Of those five, two will reach Category 3 status (winds 111 mph or greater). The hurricane season runs from June 1 to Nov. 30.
“The team predicts that 2019 hurricane activity will be about 75 percent of the average season,” its researchers said earlier this month. “By comparison, 2018’s hurricane activity was about 120 percent of the average season.”
Independent weather services such as AccuWeather are making similar projections. NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) — like Colorado State a go-to model when it comes to hurricane forecasts — will come out with its predictions in late May.
The equator has drawn their attention this spring, where an El Niño remains persistent. Every few years, in a ribbon-like pattern, waters near the equator in the central and eastern Pacific Ocean become unusually warm, and it has far-reaching effects on the weather across the world. The swirling winds it produces in the Atlantic tend to shear off the tops of tropical storms, effectively toppling them before they can grow. A weak El Niño currently in place is expected to last through the fall.
Of course, here in the Monadnock Region, hurricanes are quite low on the totem pole of weather disasters. Tornadoes are far more likely — just last year a tornado touched down near Fall Mountain Regional High in Langdon and hopscotched 36 miles over mostly forest land before dissolving in Webster 33 minutes later.
Still, we’ve been sideswiped by the likes of Carol and Edna (1954), Gloria (1985), Bob (1991) and Floyd (1999). While they caused some damage, their strength had dissipated by the time they reached us. The Hurricane of 1938 was a different beast altogether, as it maintained its hurricane status even as it tracked inland and caused major damage.
For us, this week, the tropics are but a dream. Look to Dublin, in the northeast, for a harbinger. That’s Dublin, Ireland, for the forecast there is identical to ours: highs in the mid-50s, cloudy, chance of showers almost every day.