There's some really interesting work coming out on global heat transfer with regards to tropical cyclone activity -- the first work to actually attempt to quantify the impacts of tropical cyclones upon it -- but it's not quite published yet. Hopefully later this year, with at least a preview coming in late April. I'll let you all know about it then, just remind me.
The way the weather patterns across the N. Atlantic are going right now, however, I don't think we'll see an active early season. Stronger subtropical ridges during the winter/spring tend to result in a bit more upwelling/mixing across the regions that tend to favor development early in the season. We see weaker wintertime ridges particularly after weak El Nino years, such as that which lead into 2005. We've got the opposite situation going on now, however. Some folks down at the NHC & related groups are working on some research trying to quantify this for the AMS tropical conference in Monterey in April; once they've got more down on paper, I'll pass that along as well.
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