Say Hello to Danny: Tropical Depression Likely to Form Today in the Atlantic

It's now been a whole decade since Hurricane Wilma tore through Miami as a Category 2, and without a single landfall since then, all has been quiet on the hurricane front. Too quiet. This summer, with a historic El Niño building and widespread Saharan dust spreading over the Atlantic, we've nearly made it to the last week of August without a named storm in the month — the first time that's happened in almost 20 years.

That latter streak is about to be broken, though it's way too early to tell if the longer streak — Miami's hurricane-free run — will fall by the wayside as well. Forecasters say a disturbance over the mid-Atlantic called 96L is likely to turn into Tropical Storm Danny as early as today. 

"Only a slight increase in organization would result in the formation of a tropical depression later today," NOAA's National Hurricane Center says in an update on the storm released at 8 a.m. today.

The NHC gives the system a 90 percent chance of turning into a depression within 48 hours.

Conditions still aren't exactly primed for that depression to turn into a full-blown hurricane, though, as Dr. Jeff Masters runs down at the Weather Underground.

"While it seems that 96L has a reasonable shot at becoming a tropical storm... it also faces some obstacles. Foremost is a huge area of dry air and Saharan dust that extends across the tropical Atlantic just north of 96L’s path," Masters writes. "As the system grows in size and strength, it would become more likely to ingest some of the dry, dusty air, which would hinder shower and thunderstorm activity."

Wind shear and a developing low near the Bahamas could also affect the storm. Still, after such a quiet year, seeing the radar light up with a full-on tropical storm motoring generally toward South Florida might be just the wake-up call lackadaisical Miamians need to remember that Hurricane Season is a real thing.  

Soon-to-be Danny isn't the only system NOAA's watching either; a potential tropical storm — with just a 20 percent chance of developing at the moment — is also blooming near Bermuda. 
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Tim Elfrink is a former investigative reporter and managing editor for Miami New Times. He has won the George Polk Award and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.
Contact: Tim Elfrink