CNN Meteorologist Sarah Dillingham
According to the National Hurricane Center (NHC), for the first time, both the Atlantic and Pacific Hurricane seasons got an early start as each basin saw a named storm develop prior to their season’s official start. Tropical Storm Aletta developed last week on May 14 in the Eastern Pacific, just one day before the official start to the season, and she hung on for a few days before dissipating into open waters. The Atlantic Basin apparently didn’t want to be outdone because just one week later, Tropical Storm Alberto developed off the North Carolina coast on Saturday afternoon. He was still spinning away Monday morning off the Georgia coast, but this storm is not expected to make landfall. Over the weekend, Tropical Storm Watches were issued for parts of the Carolina coastlines, but those have since expired and have not been reissued.
Over the next 3 days, Alberto will push-off to the northeast as it becomes caught up in the upper-level flow and will weaken to a Tropical Depression in the open waters of the Atlantic by Wednesday morning. The next storms in line behind these early risers are ‘Beryl’ for the Atlantic Basin and ‘Bud’ for the Pacific Basin. The Pacific Hurricane Season began on May 15th, but the Atlantic Hurricane Season does not start until June 1. On Thursday, May 24th, the NHC will issue their official forecast, and early forecasts are hinting at a below average season for the numbers of named storms and major hurricanes. This is due to the forecast development of an El Nino in the Eastern Pacific, which typically leads to increased wind shear over the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean. This wind shear, or the change of wind speed and direction with height, creates a volatile environment for tropical cyclone development as they need calmer atmospheric conditions, as well as waters at or above 80°F, to develop.
Although this season may have fewer storms, it only takes 1 significant storm to make landfall and create a busy, and memorable season. In any case, residents along the coasts need to prepare as usual so they can respond in the unfortunate event of a tropical cyclone impacting their area.