No hurricanes in Western Atlantic yet for first time since 1914

First Time in Over 100 Years: No Hurricanes in Western Atlantic


The Atlantic tropical cyclone basin has seen several named tropical storms thus far in 2015. But when it comes to hurricanes, this season hasn't packed much of a punch, particularly in the western Atlantic.

Eric Blake, a hurricane specialist at the National Hurricane Center (NHC), commented on the lack of hurricanes west of 55 degrees longitude in the Atlantic basin so far this season. Blake said this marks the first time there have been no western Atlantic hurricanes through Sept. 22 since 1914, when there weren't any.

The 1914 season was the last time no hurricanes formed anywhere in the Atlantic basin, which includes the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico.

Two factors working against hurricane development, wind shear and dry air, have been quite prevalent from the Gulf of Mexico into much of the Caribbean all summer long.

Hurricanes thrive off of rich, tropical moisture evaporating into the air from warm ocean water. Dry air is detrimental to hurricane formation because it disrupts the cycle of warm moist air rising to form clouds and thunderstorms – a cycle that essentially gives a hurricane its source of energy.

Likewise, wind shear, or the change of wind direction and speed with height, creates a hostile environment for tropical systems, as it too disrupts the ability of clouds and thunderstorms to organize in a way that supports the formation or continuation of a hurricane.

(MORE: 2015 Hurricane Season: One of the Least Active in Decades?)

El Niño can be partially to blame. This setup features warming of the Pacific Ocean and is generally associated with unfavorable wind patterns across the western Atlantic.

On the other hand, not only is the Pacific Ocean warm and tropically active, but atmospheric moisture has also been well above average in that area. The result has been nine hurricanes in the eastern Pacific, but zero in the adjacent western Atlantic.

(MORE: El Niño Could Bring Early End to Atlantic Hurricane Season)

With El Niño continuing and no signs of any major changes in wind shear and dry air, the western Atlantic hurricane drought may continue for a while.

See photos of the effects of El Niño:

8 PHOTOS
El Nino's effects
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No hurricanes in Western Atlantic yet for first time since 1914
NOAA has released an update to its El Niño advisory. This image shows the satellite sea surface temperature departure for the month of October 2015, where orange-red colors are above normal temperatures and are indicative of El Niño. This event is forecast to continue through the winter, likely ranking as one of the top 3 strongest events since 1950, before fading in late spring or early summer. El Niño has already produced significant global impacts, and is expected to affect temperature and precipitation patterns across the United States during the upcoming months. Seasonal outlooks generally favor below-average temperatures and above-median precipitation across the southern tier of the United States, and above-average temperatures and below-median precipitation over the northern tier of the United States. (Photo via NOAA)
MAKASSAR, SOUTH SULAWESI, INDONESIA - SEPTEMBER 21: Two girls are seen walk behind of dried up ricefield at Manggara Bombang village, Maros district on September 21, 2015 in Makassar, Indonesia. Indonesia's national disaster management agency has declared that the majority of the country's 34 provinces are experiencing drought caused by the El Nino weather phenomenon, the worst drought in the past five years. The dry season forces villagers to walk long distances to find clean water. (Photo by Agung Parameswara/Getty Images)
NOAA issued an update to the El Niño analysis on September 10, 2015, in which forecasters from the Climate Predication Center say a strong El Niño is in place and likely to peak in late fall/early winter, and gradually weaken through spring 2016. This image shows the satellite-based average sea surface temperature data from the week of August 31 - September 6, 2015. Blue areas are cooler than the 1981-2010 average; red areas are warmer than that historical base period. The large pool of warmer than average temperatures along the equatorial Pacific is indicative of the El Niño conditions. (Photo via NOAA)
Sea surface temperature anomalies in November 1997 (left) compared to July 2015 (right). (Photo via NOAA)
A couple tries to cool off from the heat caused by El Nino with water overflowing from a defunct but still watery reservoir called the Wawa dam in Montalban in Rizal, east of Manila on February 21, 2010. El Niño was expected to dehydrate the Metro Manila area over in the next two months, according to the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa). Earlier this month the government warned a possible drought caused by the El Nino weather system could slash Philippines rice yields this year. AFP PHOTO / NOEL CELIS (Photo credit should read NOEL CELIS/AFP/Getty Images)
Tons of dead fish are seen on the banks of the Solimoes River due the water's low level, November 25, 2009 near Manaquiri, 120Km from Manaus. The dry season, affected by the weather phenomenon EL Nino, is worse this year. According a study from Brazil's universities USP,UNICAMP,UFRJ and Embrapa, the country could lose some USD 3.6 billion over the next 40 years. AFP PHOTO / ANTONIO SCORZA (Photo credit should read ANTONIO SCORZA/AFP/Getty Images)
Heavy clouds covers Indonesia's capital city of Jakarta on November 29, 2009. The month of November ends the dry season and starts the wet period but the weather bureau anticipates El Nino's dry spell to affect Indonesian weather. AFP PHOTO / Bay ISMOYO (Photo credit should read BAY ISMOYO/AFP/Getty Images)
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