Expert: July storms can indicate strong hurricane season

This Tuesday, July 1, 2014, satellite image released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), shows the center of Tropical Storm Arthur off the east coast of Florida. With the July Fourth weekend on the horizon, the Atlantic hurricane season's first named storm plodded off Florida's coast early Wednesday, though Tropical Storm Arthur wasn't yet spooking too many in the storm's potential path. (AP Photo/NOAA)

(WPRI) — Hurricanes are the most destructive storms on Earth – winds can range between 74 and 150 miles per hour, coastlines can be inundated with sea water, and rains can create devastating flooding.

While The Pinpoint Weather Team is not tracking any major storms heading our way right now, it is looking at ways you can prepare in case we do get hit this year.

Hurricanes are a part of life, and since we’re in the Ocean State, we’re going to be hit by these storms periodically. Hurricane Arthur blew past Southern New England on July 4, and it was a close call – with the center passing just 60 miles off the coast of Nantucket.

Dave Vallee of the National Weather Service in Taunton said storms in July can often be an indicator of what’s to come.

“I think Arthur was a calling card,” he said. “It’s a little more common to see that as we go into an El Niño event.”

El Niño is a warming of the Eastern Pacific Ocean, off the coast of South America. The phenomenon can occur every few years.

“What it does is change the behavior of the jet stream high in the atmosphere, over the deep tropics of the Atlantic,” Vallee explained.

That jet stream becomes much stronger than normal, ripping apart any potential storms. In El Niño years, storms can form closer to the coast, just like Hurricanes Andrew and Bob did in the early 1990s.

hurricane tracking chart
Click to expand tracking chart >>

“Ultimately, it’s the overall theme or overall flow of air around our continent that makes the difference for us, kicking these storms out to sea, putting them into the Gulf of Mexico or bringing them up the East Coast,” said Vallee.

This year, we’ve had a wind flow favorable for storms to come up the coast.

“When you see it recur and come back and come back again, you realize that’s probably going to be the calling card for the summer,” Vallee added.

The bottom line – be prepared for coastline flooding, rain flooding, and wind damage.

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