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Thursday, September 5, 2013

No Hurricanes Yet, But Season Is Far From Over

An image from NOAA shows Hurricane Irene moving up the East Coast on Aug. 26, 2011. (AP)

An image from NOAA shows Hurricane Irene moving up the East Coast on Aug. 26, 2011. (AP)

Tropical Storm Gabrielle is hitting Puerto Rico today with 40-mile-per-hour winds and heavy rains.

Gabrielle is the seventh named storm of the season, but so far there hasn’t been a single hurricane — even though we’re about to enter what’s usually considered the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season.

So how rare is this?

Dennis Feltgen, meteorologist and spokesman for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Hurricane Center, says it’s rare but not unheard of.

“There’s no rule that says as you get later in the season the hurricanes get weaker. That is a myth.”

“Where we sit here on September 5th, there’s actually been 15 other years besides this one where the first hurricane of the season formed after this date.”

Feltgen says it isn’t that we haven’t been having storms, rather that the ones that form haven’t been able to gather strength.

“We had Andrea that went right up into the Florida panhandle, then Barry, but the three storms after that were out in the Atlantic and they certainly had potential, but they ran into dry, sinking air and some wind sheer.

There is a correlation between the strength of a storm and when it forms in the season, Feltgen said.

“You can get some horrific late-season hurricanes — Sandy is a great example. So there’s no rule that says as you get later in the season the hurricanes get weaker. That is a myth,” Feltgen said.

His advice? Don’t dip into your emergency supplies until the hurricane season ends on November 30th.

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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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