Fox News Weather Center

Hurricanes to remain at bay in Atlantic Ocean for much of July

Is the lack of Atlantic tropical storms likely to continue or will there be an uptick in activity as July progresses?

Following four named storms in the Atlantic by mid-June of 2016, a lull in tropical activity developed during the past three weeks.

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Several factors have limited tropical development recently, including a large area of high pressure over the Atlantic, dry air, strong winds and a large pocket of cool water.

Inhibiting factors may continue to dominate, limiting tropical development through July. However, there are a few spots where trouble could brew, ahead of a bigger uptick in storms after mid-August.

A semi-permanent feature, an area of high pressure over the middle of the Atlantic, became unusually strong during late June and into the start of July.

"The cold blob in the Atlantic Ocean, southeast of Greenland and a prevailing southward dip in the jet stream over the eastern United States may be giving the high pressure area a boost in strength," according to AccuWeather Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski.

Air flows clockwise around high pressure and has made the northeasterly trade winds in the tropical part of the Atlantic Ocean strong as well.

In turn, dry air and strong winds associated with the high pressure area near the surface are preventing or greatly limiting tropical development of potential storms moving westward off Africa. These disturbances can grow into powerful hurricanes, given the right conditions.

In addition to strong northeasterly winds near the surface of the water, significant westerly winds are present well above the ground in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico and just north of the equator in the Atlantic Ocean.

These factors have put a stranglehold on the key July development areas.

"Overall, July is typically a quiet time in the Atlantic basin, so people should not be real surprised about the lull we have at this time," Kottlowski said.

"Moving forward later in the summer, we will look for the Atlantic high pressure area to weaken, dry air to disperse and surface and upper-level winds to weaken," Kottlowski said.

While there are signs the high will weaken a bit over the next couple of weeks, it may not make enough of a difference until the second half of July, or possibly not until August.

Once significant weakening of the high occurs, an uptick in tropical systems is likely.

Typically, the meteorological start of the Atlantic hurricane season is not until on or about Aug. 20, when conditions become more favorable for the storms from Africa to develop tropical characteristics.

"Tropical development in the Atlantic is unlikely prior to the middle of July," Kottlowski said.

"However, we will have to watch the traditional July development areas in the western Caribbean and the southern Gulf of Mexico for tropical activity toward the middle and later part of the month," Kottlowski added.

Any development in these areas could bring drenching rain, rough surf and gusty winds to coastal locations.

Conditions may also become more favorable for a system or two to take on tropical characteristics in the far eastern Atlantic later in the month, so they could bring impacts similar to a tropical storm.

At least for a little while, people in coastal areas of North America and the Caribbean Islands can breath easy.