Last year at this time, it looked like we were about to be hit by an alarmingly intense hurricane season. Instead, we had the smallest hurricane season since 1982. So what happened? An unusual — and unpredictable — wind pattern showed up and scattered all the previous predictions.
Top image: Shutterstock/ Marafona
NOAA took a closer look at the strange, polarized wind pattern that was responsible for skipping what would have been a tough Atlantic hurricane season in 2013 to figure out just what happened. Though conditions were ripe for hurricane-formation, strong wind shears — like those present across much of the Atlantic last year — can stop that formation. That same wind pattern was also responsible for altering humidity and vertical air motion patterns, which made conditions even more unfavorable for a hurricane. In the end, the only Atlantic hurricane of the 2013 season was Hurricane Humberto.
Though NOAA notes that they're not yet able to predict just how, or when, this particular wind pattern will show up, they have, in fact, recorded it before. The last incidence of it appearing was in 1994.
Image of wind pattern: Fiona Martin / NOAA Climate