The relative calm of this year’s hurricane season may finally be coming to an end.
After months with few notable storms, four tropical systems are currently developing in the Atlantic Ocean. At least one is likely to form a tropical depression by the end of the week.
Meteorologists had predicted an above-average hurricane season in the Atlantic. But so far, 2022 has only seen three tropical storms — making this year one of the quietest starts to the hurricane season in recent years.
If none of the systems develops into a full storm in the next few days, it would be only the third time since 1960 that August had no named storms.
As of Monday morning, the strongest storm has a 50 per cent chance of forming a cyclone over the next two days and an 80 per cent chance of forming a cyclone over the next five days, according to the US National Hurricane Center (NHC).
That would make the storm, currently moving through the mid-Atlantic, at least a tropical depression, a cyclone with wind speeds of 38 miles per hour (61 kilometres per hour) or less.
If the storm formed a cyclone with faster winds, it would officially be named Tropical Storm Danielle.
Another storm system closer to western Africa has a 30 per cent chance of cyclone formation in the next five days, NHC says. Two other systems, one near Mexico and another closer to Bermuda, have a 10 and 20 per cent chance of formation in the next five days.
Earlier in August, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said it was still predicting an “above-normal” hurricane season, despite the slow start. The agency forecast up to 20 named storms, with up to 10 of those forming hurricanes, meaning wind speeds greater than 74 mph (119 kph).
Three to five of those could be major hurricanes, NOAA added, meaning Category 3 or higher.
Hurricane season in the Atlantic goes between June and November, but most activity occurs between August and early October.
And while hurricanes may not get more frequent as the planet heats up, the climate crisis is expected to make hurricanes much more intense on average. Warmer air and warmer water in the ocean can supercharge a storm, adding much more rain that can devastate communities when a storm makes landfall.
According to a recent study, thousands of homes that flooded in the Houston area during Hurricane Harvey would not have flooded at all if not for the additional rainfall added to the storm from the climate crisis.