So far this year, it's been rather quiet in Maryland and the rest of the Mid-Atlantic when it comes to hurricanes. But that doesn't mean there haven't been any. "We've already had ten tropical cyclones, nine of which have become tropical storms. We've already had two hurricanes," says Dan Kottlowski, a meteorologist with Accuweather. "This actually is not too far off the mark from what a normal year is. It's just the fact that now we're halfway through and we've already picked up what we normally see in a given year."
Accuweather says there is a reason for the dearth of hurricanes and tropical storms in the Mid-Atlantic so far this year. "We've had westerly winds in the upper atmosphere, which have actually kept all the tropical storms well east and south of us," says Kottlowski. He also says wind sheers (disruptive winds at high levels in the atmosphere) have been present every time a tropical system begins to organize off the coast of Africa. The wind sheers pratically cut off the tops of these weather systems.
"If that pattern changes for just a few days, or maybe for four or five days, that could allow tropical systems to come up," he says. "That's what happened last year with Sandy. We had just a perfect condition to allow a tropical system to develop deep in the tropics, and come northward, and come up the east coast during the latter part of October."
Kottlowski urges residents not to become too complaisant. "Late September, through the whole month of October, we're still very vulnerable to tropical storms."
The hurricane season ends on November 30th.
Accuweather's prediction for the 2013 hurricane season is 16 tropical storms, with six becoming hurricanes. That's an almost normal year with 12 tropical storms, and six hurricanes. Kottlowski says so far, we've had two hurricanes this season.