IN SPACE - In this handout photo provided by NASA, Hurricane Patricia is seen from the International Space Station. The hurricane made landfall on the Pacfic coast of Mexico on October 23. (Photo by Scott Kelly/NASA via Getty Images)
Why hurricanes are so hard to predict
01:07 - Source: CNN
CNN  — 

Chantal is churning Wednesday in the North Atlantic – at roughly the same latitude as Philadelphia – but the tropical storm isn’t expected to have any impact on land, the National Hurricane Center said.

It is unusual for a storm to have formed this far north. But with “water temperatures running 3 to 4 (degrees Fahrenheit) above average in the North Atlantic, it’s not surprising there was enough fuel for this storm,” CNN meteorologist Chad Myers said.

While Chantal is just the third named storm of the 2019 hurricane season – and below-normal tropical activity is predicted over the next two weeks – most forecasters expect activity to pick up in the run-up to the season’s statistical peak on September 10, CNN meteorologist Judson Jones said. Conditions for tropical storms become more favorable during the roughly eight weeks around that date.

Tropical activity due to pick up by September

With maximum sustained winds of 40 mph (65 kmh), Chantal is about 515 miles (830 km) south of Cape Race, Newfoundland. “It is expected that Chantal will become a tropical depression (Thursday) and a remnant low by Friday,” forecasters said. “Given the current appearance of the system, loss of tropical cyclone status and dissipation are now forecast to occur much sooner than earlier anticipated.”

Chantal’s formation follows a slow hurricane season so far, tweeted Philip Klotzbach, a meteorologist at Colorado State University specializing in Atlantic seasonal hurricane forecasts.

“The Atlantic went from July 15 - August 19 with 0 named storms - the first hurricane season to do so since 1982,” he wrote, also noting that Chantal formed further north than any other tropical storm since the 1980s.

Hurricane season peaks in mid-September in the Atlantic.

Overall, Atlantic hurricane season activity this year is expected to be above normal, with 10 to 17 named storms, including five to nine hurricanes, the Climate Prediction Center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted this month. Two to four of those hurricanes are forecast to be Category 3 or stronger, with winds greater than 110 mph, experts said.

An average season has 12 named storms, with six hurricanes, including three major hurricanes of Category 3 strength or greater. Last year saw an above-average Atlantic hurricane season, with Hurricanes Florence and Michael slamming US coastlines with devastating effect.

Though the hurricane center predicted two named storms, including one hurricane, by August 1, only Barry, a Category 1 storm that hit Louisiana in July, has made landfall so far this season in the United States.

With the prospect of stormy days ahead, now is the time to prepare, and that begins with reviewing a helpful hurricane checklist.