As we head into what is usually the most active time of the year for tropical storms in the Atlantic basin, a wave that recently moved off the coast of Africa is now showing some signs of development. The National Hurricane Center’s 5-day tropical outlook map now shows a 60 percent chance of cyclone formation for this system. This is the prime area for tropical storm development in August and leads to the term “Cape Verde storms” because they tend to form near the Cape Verde Islands in the Eastern Atlantic. Of course, it is far too early to say whether the storm will even develop into a full-fledged tropical storm, much less where it will go.
It was almost exactly 23 years ago tothe day that the tropical wave that became Hurricane Andrew entered the Atlantic Ocean from Africa. El Nino was also present in 1992, which shows that a destructive hurricane with enormous impacts can happen even in a quiet year. I visited Miami almost a year after Andrew hit, and was amazed at how much devastation was still visible in parts of the city.
Andrew’s biggest impact came from strong winds inland, as opposed to the damage by storm surge that came with Hurricane Katrina and other more recent storms. The removal of roofs and collapse of houses showed the substandard building that was part of the rapid growth in Florida prior to the storm. You can read a history of Andrew at http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/outreach/history/#andrew.