NOAA hurricane predictions

Mid-season (Aug. 8). 70 percent chance:

-- 13-19 named storms.

-- 6-9 becoming hurricanes

-- 3-5 becoming hurricanes with winds stronger than 110 mph.

Pre-season (late May) 70 percent chance:

-- 13-20 named storms.

-- 7-11 becoming hurricanes.

-- 3-6 becoming hurricanes with winds stronger than 110 mph.

2013 season so far:

-- Tropical Storm Andrea, June 5-7, 65 mph maximum winds. (U.S. landfall)

-- Tropical Storm Barry, June 17-20, 45 mph maximum winds.

-- Tropical Storm Chantal, July 8-10, 65 mph maximum winds.

-- Tropical Storm Dorian, July 24-27, 60 mph maximum winds.

“Normal” season:

-- 12 named storms.

-- 6 hurricanes.

3 hurricanes with winds stronger than 110 mph.

Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Tropical shear winds and Saharan dust are our friends this hurricane season — so far. They have been cutting down and choking off storms that form tropical cyclones.

They should keep it up, at least for most of August. But the seas are warm and winds that protect the Southeast coast are weak.

“If it stays like that, it could be a problem,” said meteorologist Doug Berry, of National Weather Service Charleston. “(The season here) hasn't been very active yet. We just haven't had the right storm develop in the right place at the right time. But it only takes one, and there's always the potential of something coming up this way.”

The tropics — and the Lowcountry — are moving into the heart of hurricane season, the Cape Verde period that usually runs from mid-August into October. It's the time when tropical cyclones tend to form off the African coast and turn into powerful hurricanes as they cross the Atlantic. Those storms pose the greatest threat to the Southeast.

Despite persistent shear winds, this hurricane season still has a 70 percent chance of being busier than normal, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted Thursday.

NOAA shaved back the chance of the more severe hurricanes forming, but otherwise held to its May pre-season prediction of above-normal activity.

Four named storms have formed so far this season. The long-term average through July is just over one named storm, according to NOAA.

“It is still too early in our season to let down our guard entirely. Hazel (October 1954), Gracie (September 1959), Hugo (September 1989) and Floyd (September 1999) are all not so subtle reminders of South Carolina's early autumn hurricane climatology,” said Mark Malsick, severe weather liaison with the S.C. Climate Office, by email. Each were powerful, damaging storms.

There's very little chance of a tropical cyclone forming in the Atlantic Basin for the next five days, according to Thursday's reading by the National Hurricane Center.

Longer-range computer modelling suggests that conditions could stay that way for the next week or two, Malsick said; the models aren't able to forecast beyond that.

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