Aletta spins off the Mexican coast.
Aletta — a modest tropical storm spinning of the western coast of Mexico with 40 mph winds — is already special because of two reasons: It the first tropical storm in the Western Hemisphere and it has now broken a 41-day streak in which Earth did not see a cyclone.
Jeff Masters at Weather Underground provides a little more detail:
— First, he says, this season is off to an early start. "Since record keeping began in 1949, there have only been two that have formed by May 15—Hurricane Alma of 1990, and an unnamed 1996 storm."
— Second: "The formation of Aletta ends a 41-day streak without a tropical storm anywhere in the world. According to the UK Met Office, the 41-day period storm-less period is the longest span Earth has gone without a tropical storm in at least 70 years."
Aletta, by the way, is not expected to bother anyone. That's why The Washington Post jumps ahead and asks: Does this early storm — the Atlantic Hurricane season doesn't start until June 1 — mean we're in for an early start?
"The birth of Aletta in the eastern Pacific signals activity is picking up in tropical regions around the world," the Capital Weather Gang reports. "The agitated appearance of the cloud field in the eastern Pacific suggests there may be more development there in during the next few days."
Back in April, William Gray, the legendary meteorologist, released his forecast (pdf) for the hurricane season. He said he expected a season with "reduced activity."
"We anticipate a below-average probability for major hurricanes making landfall along the United States coastline and in the Caribbean," Gray wrote.