Eric and I had a conversation this spring to discuss some new ideas for the site, and ways to help readers navigate hurricane season. We absolutely feel people’s uneasiness every time it rains here, and a general sensitivity to the rumor and speculation that springs to life during hurricane season. So we have decided that every week or two, we will publish a more in-depth outlook for tropical activity in the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico so that you understand what’s happening, and what could happen in the next couple weeks.
Tropical outlook in a sentence
Tropical development is unlikely over the next week or so across the Atlantic Basin, but we are eyeing July for a possible increase in activity.
Historically, we would watch the Bay of Campeche and Gulf this time of year for development.
Historically, storms have formed in the Gulf and Bay of Campeche in the final third of June. (NOAA/NHC)
As of now, no tropical activity is expected over the next week, as conditions should remain mostly unfavorable for storms to develop in those areas and elsewhere.
Looking at satellite imagery from Tuesday morning, we have a couple tropical waves moving across the eastern Caribbean and a couple disorganized waves elsewhere.
The tropics show a few disorganized disturbances and mostly calm conditions today. (College of DuPage)
None of these waves is a candidate for development as of right now, and if anything, they should fizzle out and stay safely away. So: Good news, as we just don’t see much of anything out there.
Weather model fantasy-land
One of the biggest hurdles to good tropical information during hurricane season in the social media era is a tendency for folks to mention a model solution with zero context or just because it shows something extreme. You’ll see something like, “This model is just one solution but it shows a category 10 hurricane in the Gulf in 15 days! You probably shouldn’t believe it, but here it is anyway.”
Is there anything showing up on the models in days 10-15? Not at this time. The GFS model, which is the most frequent offender with fantasy-land storms is quiet right now. The GFS tends to have a bias early in the hurricane season, and then again later in the hurricane season. The bias is worst in May and early June, where it can often spin up systems in the Caribbean that never materialize. I tried to run the math on it last season, and during the month of May 2018, 79% of the time the GFS showed a storm beyond day 10, it never materialized.
Now, the GFS model was recently upgraded which should hopefully lead to reduced false alarms, but we won’t know much about that in practice until next May. Within the season, it still seems to show more false alarms than not, and Eric and I try to sort through the noise for you. Let this just serve as a reminder to be cautious of extreme modeled solutions posted on social media without much context.