Hurricanes Are Veering Away From the US This Month — for Now

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(Bloomberg) — Hurricanes in the Atlantic have mostly veered away from land this month as larger weather patterns push them north — but the threat to the US and the Caribbean still lingers.

Two systems — a low-pressure area over the northeastern US and a weak high-pressure zone in the Atlantic — are acting as guardrails to steer storms harmlessly out to sea. The low-pressure system is also the reason the Northeast has been unusually rainy, with Boston seeing its third-wettest summer ever and record rains unleashing deadly floods across the region in June. 

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The Northeast pattern is creating “steering currents that favor hurricanes recurving out to sea without hitting the US,” said Jeff Masters, a meteorologist with Yale Climate Connections. The Atlantic high, meanwhile, “has been weaker than usual, which has allowed hurricanes to find weaknesses in it and turn north.”

Hurricanes depend on these larger high- and low-pressure systems to move them across the world’s oceans. When the Atlantic high is strong, it can create a conveyor belt to push storms from Africa into the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico.

While the pattern steering hurricanes away from the US is poised to persist for weeks to come, storms still have the potential to strike land, said Rob Carolan, owner of Hometown Forecast Services.

A front moving down the East Coast could stall off the coast of Florida next week before rebounding into the Carolinas, Carolan said. The system has a 30% chance of becoming a named storm over the next seven days, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Record ocean temperatures are unleashing an abnormally active hurricane season in the Atlantic, even as many storms spin away from land. From August 20 to September 16, 10 storms formed across the basin, the most on record for that period, according to Phil Klotzbach, a Colorado State University hurricane researcher.

Read more: Ocean Temperatures Hit 90F Degrees, Fueling Weather Disasters 

Three hurricanes — Lee, Margot and Nigel — have formed in the past two weeks. Only Lee made landfall, leading to relatively minor damage across Bermuda, New England and Canada’s Maritime provinces. Nigel appears poised to dissipate before striking land anywhere. 

“There’s still a long way to go before hurricane season ends, with the typically busy month of October still ahead, and it’s too early to give the US the ‘all-clear’ for all of hurricane season,” Masters said. 

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