Per special request I am giving my latest status report on the tropical Atlantic. For future reference, this is a perfect thread for the messageboard which we have recently established. Specifically, there is already a virtual betting system in place for you to make your predictions for the first tropical system. Of course all betting is using virtual money, not real cash, so it is for bragging rights only. Most odds are setting using climatology. However, note that this year I significantly boosted the odds of an early season storm.
Now, is the water warm enough for a tropical storm right now? Sure. How about a hurricane? Eh, not really, but it could happen. As a general, but not hardline, rule the ocean must be at least 26 degrees C (about 80 deg. F) to support tropical development. Here is the latest SST map:
However, this warm water is not very deep. Wave action from storms mixes up the surface layer of the ocean and the atmospheric circulation in the storm causes deep water to be sucked upward. Take a look at the depth of warm water than is capable of supporting tropical development.
The big limiting factor for development right now remains an active jet stream and fires in the southwestern US. The smoke from the fires is a big suppressant to hurricane activity. Below is an example of one of the smoke plumes. Also, the digging jet stream will rip the convection apart before it has a chance to organize.
Now, how does this compare to last year? Here are the images from the same day last year.
Tropical development is not unheard of in spring. Here is the the probability distribution function for Atlantic hurricane activity.
Globally, here are the May and then June tropical development regions:
As you can see, June is much more favorable for development. When this development does occur, these are the tracks that it is likely to take: