Bill Read's Blog: Ramp up time in the tropical Atlantic

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HOUSTON - Old time hurricane watchers like to say on Aug.1 that the real hurricane season is underway.

I prefer the term "peak" of the hurricane season, as there is nothing different between a hurricane in June than one in August.

The chart shows why we call August through October the peak of the season. Notice the steeper slope of the curve representing average hurricane activity beginning in August and tailing off rapidly by the end of October. This shows that about 85 percent of all storms occur during about a two and a half month stretch of the 6-month season.

Some of Texas' memorable storms have struck in August. Most recently was Hurricane Alicia in 1983. With the ocean heat reaching highest values, wind shear at its weakest and waves coming off Africa with more moisture and at higher latitude, almost anywhere in the tropical Atlantic is susceptible to development.

I've been asked by a lot of people lately: "The tropics are really quiet this season, aren't they?"

Well, not really.

As the chart shows, with Hurricane Arthur in early July and now Bertha, we are about normal for number of named storms and number of hurricanes by Aug. 1.

Bertha poses no threat for our coast, and forecast models out two weeks suggest the pattern will be unfavorable for bringing a storm to Texas.

Our good fortune won't last forever. Stay tuned.

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