Slow Hurricane Season? All It Takes Is One to Make an Impact

The Atlantic hurricane season, which blows through the Gulf of Mexico from June 1 through the end of November, has been perhaps the most dependable forecast for the energy industry this year.

Aaron Studwell, manager of weather operations, at Wilken Weather Technologies LP, told Rigzone the season’s activity has been below normal, which was expected given the presence of El Niño cruising the globe this year.

Based in Houston, Wilkens Weather specializes in offshore and marine forecasting for the oil and gas industry.

As Studwell explained, El Niño occurs when there’s a strong vertical wind shear between 4,000 and 40,000 feet in the air. It’s too much activity for a hurricane, which needs to be vertically stacked, to get organized. El Niño generally impacts the weather from California to Texas and in the Caribbean.

But while the quiet shores have been good for beachgoers and those who make their living working in the Gulf, vigilance is always necessary.

Offshore workers “have to be prepared,” Studwell said. “When Hurricane Andrew came along, it was the first named storm of August, and it tore places apart. We tend to forget that.”

Homegrown storms in the Gulf could still stir up activity, but the harshest weather is more likely from the Caribbean, where it would probably travel up the eastern seaboard, Studwell said. It’s been a high level of dry Saharan air that’s kept a lot of the storm activity at bay in the Gulf because these high power storms need moist air to grow.

Still, Studwell said, “It only takes one [major storm], and everyone should remain aware.”

An award-winning journalist, Deon has reported on energy, business and politics for almost 20 years. Email Deon at deon.daugherty@rigzone.com

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