By Clint Thompson
A quiet tropical storm season so far is abnormal for this time of year. But it also could serve as the calm before the proverbial storm.
Pam Knox, University of Georgia Extension agricultural climatologist, discusses the rarity this calm tropical season has been so far.
“It’s definitely unusual. It has happened once or twice before. It’s rare to have this long of a period, especially during the main tropical season that has really gone with no name storms at all and not much activity even if not named,” Knox said. “You could argue that this mass of rain (last week) had some kind of tropical origins because that moisture was coming from the Gulf. It definitely did not have tropical characteristics so you wouldn’t call it the typical tropical storm.
“To have nothing for a month and a half is pretty rare.”
But late summer and early fall is the peak season for storms to develop, specifically Sept. 10. Southeast growers have been devastated before by fall hurricanes; most notably Hurricane Michael in early October in 2018. It destroyed pecan trees and damaged infrastructure across the Southeast region.
Hurricane Sally hit Alabama on Sept. 16, 2020 and devastated the state’s pecan industry. But pecan producers and citrus growers should be wary of a storm season that appears inevitable, says Knox.
“I know when Michael came through in 2018, it came about a week before all of the cotton was going to be harvested. They had tremendous losses from that and for the pecan growers, too,” Knox said. “If we do go into more active periods as I suspect, timing and location of those storms is going to be crucial. If it comes right over us, then we have to worry about the wind. If it’s farther to the west where we’re not in the direct path, then we might still have to worry about rain, but it’s going to be less of a wind issue. We can’t predict where those storms are going to go. We just say they’re more likely to happen.”
“They’re starting to wake up. It would not surprise me at all if we start to see more named storms in the next couple of weeks.”