We are in the Phony War part of the hurricane season. The WWII buffs out there know what that term means, but for those who don’t,here’s an explanation.
There are many examples of hurricane seasons that start quickly then fall apart completely before they come roaring back.
We believe this is a big impact season on the U.S. coast.
Our pre-season forecast was initially released in April — with the biggest concern in the Gulf of Mexico — which we then finalized in May, lighting up the western Atlantic and Gulf. The closer to the U.S., the bigger the worry about the intensity of storms this year given the very warm sea surface temperatures near the shore.
That warm water is eerily similar to the hurricane seasons of 1954 to 1960, when eight major hurricanes impacted the U.S. East Coast in seven years, including five in the back-to-back years of 1954 and 1955. This means that storms may not be much way out in the Atlantic, but as they get closer to the U.S. we have the threat of them increasing in intensity rather than backing off a peak reached out at sea.
Now imagine it’s 1960. Kennedy vs. Nixon is looming and up comes the ultimate East Coast storm, Hurricane Donna. It hits Florida as a Category 4, North Carolina as a Category 3, New England as a Category 2. The monster brings hurricane winds to every state on the East Coast, never before recorded in the nation’s history (and never since!). And as the storm is marching across the Atlantic a set of people decide to use it as a wedge issue in the election.
[Joe Bastardi is chief forecaster at WeatherBELL Analytics, a meteorological consulting firm.]