What Arlene, northeast Atlantic hotspot tell us about Florida hurricane season | WeatherTiger
June is prime fake holiday season. Weird celebrations in the upcoming week include National Yo-Yo Day, National VCR Day, and, thanks to the corporate machinations of Buc-ee’s and Randy “Macho Man” Savage, National Jerky Day.
A date no one celebrates but should nonetheless be acknowledged is the start of hurricane season, which remains on June 1. In the future, this may prove to be a moveable feast, as a subtropical or tropical storm has developed in the Atlantic Basin prior to June 1 in eight of the last nine years, including an unnamed storm in January of this year.
A National Weather Service panel is continuing to study the possibility of moving the start date into May, as well as giving the loose concept of “hurricane season” a more formal, scientific definition. So look for this issue to be revisited in a year or two.
Arlene: A prompt but low-stakes start to hurricane season
In any case, the official 2023 season got off to a prompt start, though in a way that was about as low stakes as possible for a named storm in the Gulf of Mexico. Following the development of a tropical depression about 150 miles south of the western Florida Panhandle on June 1, Tropical Storm Arlene existed for about 18 hours over the weekend before dissipating well west of the Keys.
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Driven by wind shear and dry air, Arlene had minimal wind impacts on Florida, but did yield some significant rainfall. Central and South Florida picked up anywhere from 2-6 inches of Arlene-enhanced rainfall in the last week, including in the Tampa Bay region where severe drought is ongoing.
Overall, Arlene was the rare storm that likely provided a net benefit to society in the form of much-needed precipitation.
Does Arlene mean more storms on the horizon for Florida?
A Gulf storm on day 1 of hurricane season, even a 98-pound weakling, seems like a bad vibe for the long six months ahead.
The good news is evidence for this vibe-based forecasting methodology is in short supply. While Arlene’s scant wind energy tally bumps 2023 so far into the top third of hurricane seasons since 1950, the other years in that early top third scatter evenly into final outcomes in the most active, middle, and least active thirds for the season as a whole.
In other words, Arlene’s short, happy life tells us nothing about the year ahead.
However, the chances of tropical or subtropical formation in the week ahead do give a hint that something strange is afoot. There is no indication of any potential development that would be a concern to Florida or the U.S. coast, as eastern U.S. troughing will flood the southwest Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico with elevated wind shear and dry air for the next 8 to 10 days, putting Florida over the hump of Steinhatchee season with only Arlene to show for it.
What the blob of in the northeastern Atlantic tells us about hurricane season
The sole area highlighted by the NHC for a slight chance of further organization is in the far northeastern Atlantic, near the Azores islands. There is a 10% to 20% chance of this non-tropical low briefly acquiring some subtropical characteristics by midweek before hustling northeast towards the Iberian peninsula.
Rain in Spain notwithstanding, this is interesting as if development does happen, it would occur over 2,000 miles from the nearest point where a named storm has ever developed in June, where water is typically much too cool to even allow a remote possibility of subtropical storm formation.
This points to what makes the 2023 hurricane season such a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma. As a hurricane-squashing El Nino event develops apace, there is also record heat in the eastern Atlantic regions that usually indicate a busy year to follow.
May ocean temperatures there were nearly 0.75°C above the next warmest year on record in 1995, back when National VCR Day was relevant. WeatherTiger’s real-time seasonal model has continued to drift a little more active each day over the last two weeks.
The bottom line: if you take one thing away from this column, let Arlene be a gentle reminder that hurricane season is underway, and it is prudent to be prepared for the unexpected as a strange year may lie ahead. Keep watching the skies.
Who is WeatherTiger?Hurricane expert Ryan Truchelut provides Florida storm forecasts, analyses
Dr. Ryan Truchelut is chief meteorologist at WeatherTiger, a Tallahassee company providing forensic meteorology and expert witness services, and agricultural and hurricane forecasting subscriptions. Visit weathertiger.com to see our real-time seasonal hurricane model predictions and discover how to put our expertise to work for you.