'Perplexing' hurricane season; late start

Published: Tuesday, September 10, 2013 at 06:41 PM.

As the peak of hurricane season arrives Tuesday without a major storm having formed, forecasters are starting to rethink predictions of a busy year for high-powered tropical systems.

As of the National Hurricane Center's 5 a.m. update, Tropical Storm Humberto was located roughly 150 miles west of the Cape Verde Islands, at latitude 14.4 north and longitude 26.6 west. The storm was moving west-northwest at 9 mph, expected to turn more to the northwest and slow later today.

Forecasts call for Humberto to reach hurricane strength later today. The storm's current maximum sustained winds are near 65 mph, with higher gusts, and tropical storm-force winds extend outward as much as 80 miles.

Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Gabrielle has reformed in the Atlantic Ocean, some 165 miles south of Bermuda. Gabrielle is moving to the north at roughly 14 mph, a track expected to continue through the night before the storm turns to the north-northwest and slows before reaching Bermuda tomorrow. Maximum sustained winds are 40 mph, and extend outward up to 70 miles.

Depending on what happens with Tropical Storm Humberto this week, 2013 could mark the slowest start to a hurricane season by one measure in more than 100 years.

Humberto formed off the coast of Africa Monday and is expected to curve out to sea, staying far away from Florida. The system is only notable because forecasters believe it has a good chance of becoming the first hurricane of the season. If it does, it would be one of the latest first hurricanes on record.

On average, two hurricanes should have formed by now. Past seasons have started slow and finished with a flurry of tropical cyclones, but the window is starting to close.

Phil Klotzbach, a research scientist with Colorado State University's Tropical Meteorology Project, has been perplexed by the hurricane season's progress so far. Klotzbach predicted there would be 18 named storms this year, including eight hurricanes. The average is 12 named storms and six hurricanes.

Other forecasters, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, also looked at the conditions that contribute to storm formation earlier this year and similarly predicted a busy season.

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