Tropical Storm Karen briefly threatened the Gulf coast this weekend, but by Sunday it became clear that the storm was dispersing, and the National Hurricane Center — understaffed because of the government shutdown — issued no coastal warnings or watches because of the storm.

What happened to the “bad hurricane” season that was forecast at the beginning of the year? We’re gone eight years without a Category 3 or above hurricane making landfall in the United States. Remember that Superstorm Sandy was a tropical storm when it hit the Jersey shore last year.

Why have there been so few storms so far this year? We have had 11 named storms so far, which is about average for this time of year. But those storms have been weaker than average — only two, Humberto and Ingrid, were classified as hurricanes — and none of them have yet made landfall. A Texas A&M University researcher offers this as a possible explanation – weakness of those storms might be because of unusually dry air.

You could say that we have been lucky.