For what was predicted to be an active Atlantic hurricane season, 2011 so far has been stumbling along like a drunken sailor.

To be sure, we’ve had five named systems, but they’ve been pretty flabby specimens. And you’ve gotta think that behind the scenes at The Weather Channel there’s some gnashing of teeth and rending of garments.

I know. I’ve been there. It’s not that the channel dwellers wish ill on anyone. They don’t. Quite the contrary, they’re there to warn and calm. It’s just a fact of life that big storms are the network’s big draw.

So what’s it mean, this unimpressive start? Not much. We’ve seen it before. An oft-cited example, 1992: nary a mean-spirited zephyr until August 16th when a tropical depression spun to life over the eastern Atlantic. A week later the disturbance had blossomed into a major hurricane and was on a beeline toward south Florida. Andrew. You know the rest of the story.

Then there was 2004. By this time of August that year there had been only two named storms, Alex and Bonnie, neither leaving much of a mark on the U.S. That all changed on August 13th when Hurricane Charley, a cat 4, slammed into southwest Florida near Port Charlotte.

Over the next six weeks, three more hurricanes–Frances, Ivan and Jeanne–swirled into the state. It was as if Florida had a KICK ME sign on it. 2004 is the only season on record in which four hurricanes battered the Sunshine State.

So the fact this season so far has been about as unimpressive as the U.S. Congress doesn’t really mean anything. At least we know the hurricane season can pull its act together, so to speak.

Congress? Not likely.

-August 8, 2011-

IMAGE: NOAA satellite shot of intensifying Hurricane Charley a few hours before making landfall near Port Charlotte, Florida, August 13, 2004.

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