On what was supposed to be an above average season, many are just utterly confused at the lack of hurricane activity in the Atlantic and eastern Pacific. The western Pacific is running well below average as well with cyclone activity down some 30 percent. But the North American season has been dismal… all in all, for those living in prone areas, not exactly a bad thing. A scale has been developed to quantify the hurricane activity across the Atlantic called the Atlantic Cyclone Energy or ACE. This takes into account total energy produced by tropical systems using rainfall, wind speed, pressure, and a host of others derived from developed storms. This shows us that the Atlantic has had its quietest year for hurricane development since 1994 and globally since 1977. That would mark the year to date as the 5th quietest since this scale was developed in the early 1950's. Climate scientist Dr. Ryan Maue posted these images to twitter that really show the dramatic difference between this year's season against many others.
This shows that not only has the activity in the Atlantic been meager at best, but globally it has been very low with the Pacific and Indian seasons coming in below average. Very little is understood exactly why this is, especially when hurricane activity has been in overdrive for 20 some odd years. The current theories are that a tremendous amount of dust has been rolling off the coast of Africa drying out many of these systems before they even get started. Also, the jet stream has been dipping much further south than what is considered normal, which adds wind shear to the environment and would ultimately tear anything apart before it developed. Ultimately though, hurricane seasons go in cycles with 30 years of very active patterns followed by 30 years of very inactive. At the moment, from what is understood, we are in the last few years of an active period, so this may be just the start of a gradual downward trend IF that pattern continues.