Tropical Storm Andrea and the 2013 Hurricane Season

Tropical Storm Andrea came to an end as the first named storm of the 2013 hurricane season, but without having reached category hurricane status.

The effects of the storm were felt throughout the U.S. eastern Gulf and East Coasts however, with driving rains, heavy winds, and flood watches issued from Georgia to Maine.

Andrea’s formation was considered early in terms of historical records, as the first storms of a typical hurricane season are generally expected to begin in mid-July or August.

The earlier than usual arrival of TS Andrea may prove inconsquential however, in terms of shaping forecasts for the remainder of this year’s hurricane season.  Climate scientists have suggested for sometime, that an increase in the total number of intense weather systems per year is likely, given climate change.

“Weather is becoming more violent and happening globally,” said ESSIC Research Associate, Dr. Anil Kumar, who specializes in Land-Atmosphere interaction. Kumar noted that weather is a complex system and that it wasn’t necessarily meaningful, if a season or an event didn’t correspond exactly to historical time-tables. “(The) Indian monsoon is progressing much faster this year than predicted. So one month prior of any event or weather system is not unique in (the) current climate system,” stated Kumar.

ESSIC Research Associate, Dr. Steve Guimond, who’s research interests include hurricane dynamics, believes that there are many factors to consider when attempting to forecast the patterns of a hurricane season.

“I think it is dangerous to assume that a slight anomaly in the typical progression of a hurricane season (Andrea coming a bit early) is an indication of what is to come,” Guimond said. “Hurricanes (and the atmosphere in general) do not operate as simply as black and white. There is a lot of gray area, which means that just because Andrea occurred early, does not mean that the rest of the season will be very active.”

According to Guimond, there are rough guides that researchers use in order to make predictions about a given hurricane season. These include supportive environmental factors, such as warm waters and weak vertical wind, which Guimond believes are currently representative of more storm systems this year.

“Using those rough guides such as warmer waters, I think we have favorable support for an active season,” Guimond stated.

Although the early formation of tropical storm Andrea was perhaps not so atypical for today’s weather systems and patterns, this event coupled with yet another unnamed second tropical depression of the early summer, would tend to suggest an active 2013 hurricane season.