Ernesto could soon stir quiet hurricane season

The Atlantic hurricane season could be in for a jolt in the next few weeks, at least according to AccuWeather.

It has been more than a month since Tropical Storm Debby dissipated after drenching Florida and moving out to sea. The lull could soon end -- what is being called Tropical Depression Five is expected to become Tropical Storm Ernesto some time on Friday, according to the National Hurricane Center.


The storm is anticipated to impact the Lesser Antilles in the southern Caribbean on Friday and potentially Jamaica by Monday. But some, like the Weather Underground's Jeff Masters, expect wind shear to tear up the tropical depression before it becomes Ernesto.

Despite the slow start to the season, AccuWeather is upholding its forecast of five hurricanes, two of them major hurricanes and about two of them expected to impact the U.S.


That could mean a busy heart of the hurricane season. Storm frequency has historically spiked between Aug. 20, according to the forecast service.

The good news for Maryland is that the forecast predicts the greatest risk for landfalling hurricanes to be along the coast from Alabama to North Carolina. That doesn't mean a storm system couldn't drench Maryland even if it weakened after landfall.

If and when an El Nino pattern develops, it could bring an abrupt end to the hurricane season. El Nino causes more wind shear, with strong winds high in the atmosphere shifting toward the south; wind shear inhibits hurricane formation.

Meteorologists in June called the odds of an El Nino forming by the end of the year at 50 percent. But in September and October, the probability rises to about 65 percent, according to a July 9 update from the Climate Prediction Center.

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