Cross-posted to my new weather website State of the Skies
One day before the official start of the 2012 Pacific Hurricane Season, the NHC issued an advisory this morning on Tropical Depression One-E. The system is sitting about 650 miles southwest of Manzanillo, Mexico and is moving generally towards the west, well away from land. The system is expected to become Tropical Storm Aletta before quickly dissipating on Wednesday due to strong wind shear shearing the tops off the convection around the center of the depression-turned-storm.
Late last week, there was some concern among meteorologists that a tropical (or subtropical) system was going to form in the far eastern Atlantic near the Azores, but the system wasn't able to better organize itself and strengthen enough. Dr. Stu Ostro of the Weather Channel pointed out on his Facebook page yesterday that the satellite readings from the storm indicated that it may have briefly attained Subtropical Storm status, making it Alberto, but no official advisories were issued by the NHC. The system is still out there, just less organized and with little threat of development. It is expected to bring heavy rain to the Azores, nonetheless.
The forecast for the 2012 Atlantic Hurricane Season doesn't seem too bad, but the "badness" of a season is wholly dependent on individual storms and what they do once they interact with land. InAccuWeather and The Weather Channel both predict an average hurricane season (average being something like 10-11 named storms, 4-5 hurricanes, 2-3 major hurricanes). Colorado State University predicts a below-average 2012 hurricane season. The average- to below-average forecasts are due an expected resurgence of the El Niño pattern, which increases thunderstorm activity in the Pacific Ocean which, in turn, increases westerly wind shear across the Gulf, Caribbean, and Atlantic. Wind shear spells death to tropical storms because it disallows crucial thunderstorm activity to flourish, thereby reducing the intensity of tropical systems (or inhibiting their formation altogether).
The 2012 Atlantic Hurricane Season doesn't start until June 1st, and hopefully it won't start at all for coastal residents across North America. There's no accurate way to predict when and if a hurricane will strike the United States, as each storm is its own beast and is dependent on hundreds of individual variables, each of which could drastically alter a potential storm's ultimate path and strength.
For now, it's just watching and waiting.