The curtain is about to lift on “The Big Show” in the Atlantic Basin. Tropical storm and hurricane activity will ramp up rapidly from now until its climatological peak on or around the 10th of September. All we’ve seen so far in what is expected to be a hyper-active season are a few faltering dress rehearsals.

For the next six weeks, virtually the entirety of the Atlantic Basin–meaning the tropical north Atlantic, the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico–will come into play as birthing grounds for storms and hurricanes.

Forecasters will be closely monitoring tropical waves, disturbances riding westward over the Atlantic on the wings of low-latitude trade winds. Big, thundery disturbances galloping off the west coast of equatorial Africa near or south of the Cape Verde Islands will, as always, draw special attention.

It is these systems that sometimes give rise to the great “Cape Verde Hurricanes” of North American legend. Andrew and Hugo were such monsters. And further back in history, so was the Great New England Hurricane of 1938. That was the one that put downtown Providence, Rhode Island, under water.

So dust off your hurricane shutters and jam new batteries into your NOAA Weather Radio. Here comes The Big Show.

I wonder if there’ll be a “Janet” in there.

-July 29, 2011-

IMAGE: Climatological tracks of August storms and hurricanes (graphic from National Hurricane Center).

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