With tropics quiet, hurricane season could get latest start since 2004

The tropics are quiet nearly a month into the Atlantic hurricane season, and that could eventually mean the season's latest start since at least 2004.

No tropical cyclones have formed yet this year, whereas in each of the past nine years, a tropical storm has developed in May or June. The National Hurricane Center does not forecast any cyclone development within the next 48 hours, and there are no areas it is eyeing for storm development within the next five days, either.

Last year, Tropical Storm Andrea formed June 5, while in 2012, Tropical Storm Alberto came before the season's official June 1 start, on May 19.

In 2011, tropical storm Arlene formed June 28, a mark we are sure to surpass this weekend.

It has been since 2004 that a named storm did not develop until July -- and Hurricane Alex, in that year, didn't form as a tropical storm until July 31. Though that season got a late start, it was nonetheless a costly one, including hurricanes Charley, Francis and Ivan.

Strong wind shear, which occurs when wind speeds and directions vary at different altitudes, has been the strongest factor inhibiting storm development, AccuWeather.com hurricane expert Dan Kottlowski said in a post Wednesday. AccuWeather notes that there have been 1-2 storms in May and June in each of the past nine years, except 2012, when there were four in that period.

On average, going back to 1966, the first Atlantic tropical storm doesn't form until July 9, however. The first hurricane forms by Aug. 10, on average, and the first major hurricane doesn't typically form until Sept. 3.

This season is forecast to be below-average in the number and strength of storms because of a likely developing El Nino. But meteorologists caution to be prepared for a possible tropical storm or hurricane strike anyway, as devastating storms can hit even in a relatively quiet season.

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