|First tropical weather bulletin issued for 2011|
More than a month before hurricane season begins officially on June 1, the National Hurricane Center issued the first tropical weather bulletin of 2011 for a disturbance that formed about 600 miles east of the Turks and Caicos Islands on April 20.
The storm was never a threat to any land areas, and it meandered northward away from the TCI with no apparent effects on weather here, except maybe some heightened swells along the northern shores.
As it neared Bermuda over colder waters, the storm lost intensity and forecasters stopped sending tropical updates on April 22.
If the system had become a named storm, it would have been only the second ever to happen in April since 1851. The other was Tropical Storm Ana in 2003, which formed south of Bermuda and headed out harmlessly across the Atlantic.
“The formation of a tropical disturbance at this location this time of year is unusual, but is not necessarily a harbinger of an active season ahead,” said Dr. Jeff Masters of Weather Underground on his blog at wunderground.com.
Even so, this year’s hurricane season is expected to be busier than average, just like last year, according to April predictions from the Department of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University.
That preseason estimate predicts there will be 16 names storms and nine hurricanes, five of them major. In 2010, there were 19 named storms, 12 hurricanes and five major hurricanes.
The TCI was nearly missed by major Hurricane Earl on Sept. 1, followed a few days later by Tropical Storm Fiona, which missed at a safer distance.
Then Hurricane Tomas went right over East Caicos early Nov. 6 with 75 mph winds causing little damage.