Rains May Return This Week, But July Lull in Tropics Likely to Continue

Pattern Leaving Ridge in Near-Drought Conditions May Change

Series: Weather | Story 1

Last updated 8/5/2023 at 11:19am

Courtesy Lumenlearning.com

Thunderstorms depend upon colder air aloft to condense moist air. A persistent flow of warm air from a western "heat dome" has helped to prevent normal summer thunderstorm development over the ridge. Warmer ocean waters have also weakened sea breezes which typically meet over inland Florida and "squeeze" the heated air upward.

A relatively dry "monsoon" season has left many long-time residents wondering where all the rain has gone, but also glad to see the lack of tropical storm development. Now at last it appears that there may be more normal summer rains on tap for the Ridge area, coming without the immediate threat of hurricanes.

The forecasts for coming days cite unusually high levels of moisture in the air, with precipitable water readings of more than two inches, which can often lead to storms dropping four or more inches of rain.

A persistent upper-level high pressure "heat dome" that has shifted between Arizona and Texas has forced drier, warmer continental air over Florida for weeks, leaving the Ridge area with a significant rainfall deficit.

Long-range models are now predicting some pattern changes that will weaken the west winds to allow the long-suppressed east coast sea breeze to move farther inland. That should allow breezes from both coasts to meet over the center of the state, prompting thunderstorms. Sea breezes are driven by rising warm air over land drawing in cooler oceanic air, but over-heated waters have weakened that effect.

After a quirky start to the June to November Hurricane season saw two systems emerge off the African Coast in early June, months ahead of expectations, the Atlantic basin has largely fallen quiet. A single "extra-tropical storm" meandering far from land is the only activity noted.

Courtesy National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

The peak of the hurricane season normally falls about September 10,. This graph depicts the number of tropical storms and hurricanes each calendar day between May 1 and December 31. Specifically, it shows the number of hurricanes (yellow area), and combined named storms and hurricanes (red area) that occur on each calendar day in the Atlantic basin.

Meteorologists are blaming a layer of dry Saharan air and dust blanketing much of the tropics for the quiet weeks, but those conditions are not expected to persist through the season. Water temperatures in the Atlantic basin are reflecting record heat, providing plenty of fuel for powerful storms to form and grow.

The west coast of Africa is the normal Hurricane spawning ground during August and September, so the June storms were seen as oddities. Meanwhile, areas in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico which normally generate tropical systems in the early and later months of the Hurricane season have remained quiet this year.

Advanced weather satellites, super-computers, and complex atmospheric-modeling programs have produced dramatic advances in forecasting tropical storm intensities and movements during the last few Hurricane seasons.


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