June 1st marks the official start to the 2011 Atlantic Hurricane Season. While things in the tropics are relatively quiet today, this is the time of the year that we start to see activity start to pick up as temperatures and atmospheric conditions become conducive for tropical development.
It is no secret that the Brazos Valley and much of Texas is in a drought. What you may not realize is that our current "Exceptional Drought" situation is tied into the same factors that has forecasters calling for an "above average season." That factor? La Nina -- or below normal sea surface temperatures in the Pacific. While this weather phenomena has lead to rain chances basically being cut off for much of the Southern U.S., it usually brings about a more active hurricane season. There have been signs of our current La Nina beginning to weaken, however, it looks to hold together long enough to impact the possible number of tropical storms and / or hurricanes that could form this year.
Here is the official forecast issued by NOAA on May 19th of this year:
A couple interesting points to make on this first day of hurricane season:
--Forecasters are seeing similar conditions forming in the Atlantic Ocean -- in terms of sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic and weather patterns over the United States -- that draw eerie similarities to how the 2005 hurricane season started. While it's not a given this will be a record breaking season like we witnessed in 2005, it is still expected to be a rather active season.
--The 2010 forecast called for an active tropical season as well -- which left many people scratching their heads when it was all said and done. While the United States was spared from a dramatic hit by a Tropical Storm or Hurricane, the forecast verified with there was still plenty of activity in the tropics last year: 19 storms formed, 12 became hurricanes and of 5 of those were Category 3 or stronger.
--As of this morning, the Hurricane Prediction Center was already monitoring a low pressure center off the East Coast of Florida that showed a 30% chance of becoming something tropical over the next 48 hours. While this is close to land and most likely will turn into nothing more than a heavy rain and wind event for the Sunshine State, it still is interesting to see Mother Nature start to churn out areas of development just as the calendar turns to June.