Climate: Studying thunderstorms in Africa may lead to better hurricane forecasts for the U.S.

A NASA visualization of Hurricane Floyd approaching the Florida coast.

A NASA visualization of Hurricane Floyd approaching the Florida coast in 1999. Hurricane Floyd formed from a tropical wave moving off the coast of Africa to become one of the largest and strongest Atlantic Hurricanes on record.

Spatial cloud coverage offers clues to tropical storm formation

Staff Report

FRISCO — Closely monitoring thunderstorms over Africa may help meteorologists develop better forecasts for Atlantic hurricane development.

“Eighty-five percent of the most intense hurricanes affecting the U.S. and Canada start off as disturbances in the atmosphere over Western Africa,” said Tel Aviv University Prof. Colin Price, who recently published a new study on hurricane formation in Geophysical Research Letters. “We found that the larger the area covered by the disturbances, the higher the chance they would develop into hurricanes only one to two weeks later.”

Working with graduate student Naama Reicher of the Department of Geosciences at TAU’s Faculty of Exact Science, Price analyzed satellite images of cloud cover to track the variability in cloud cover blocking the earth’s surface in West Africa during hurricane season.Using infrared cloud-top temperature data gathered from satellites, Prof. Price assessed the temperatures of the cloud tops, which grow colder the higher they rise. He then compared his cloud data with hurricane statistics — intensity, date of generation, location, and maximum winds — from the same period using the National Hurricane Center data base. Continue reading

Hurricane Odile takes aim at Baja

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Powerful Hurricane Odile is taking aim at Baja. Photo courtesy Servicio Meteorológico Nacional.

Hurricane watches issued; major storm impacts expected

Staff Report

FRISCO — Much of the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula could see high winds, coastal flooding and mudslides as Hurricane Odile takes aim at the area, packing sustained winds of up to 135 mph.

The approaching tropical storm has prompted hurricane warnings and evacuations in Baja, where the storm surge could peak at 33 feet above normal sea level, according to the Servicio Meteorológico Nacional, which is also warning of tropical storm conditions along parts of Mexico’s mainland Pacific coast. Continue reading

Will Hurricane Norbert soak Colorado?

Big surge of subtropical moisture possible early next week

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Moisture will be plentiful across Colorado and much of the U.S. the next 5 days.

STAFF REPORT

FRISCO — Hurricane Norbert, now spinning off the coast of Baja, California, could deliver copious amounts of moisture to Colorado early next, according to the National Weather Service, which is already talking about the potential for regional flash flooding.

The Category 3 storm is expected to weaken gradually during the next few days as it moves northwest over cooler water, but the projected path turns the remnant low pressure system eastward, coming ashore over northern Mexico or southern California late in the weekend.

The exact path will determine how much rain falls in Colorado, but National Weather Service forecast maps are showing widespread rain across Colorado, with a bullseye over the north-central mountains.

Grand Junction-based National Weather Service forecasters say subtropical moisture will increase across the Great Basin and western Colorado Monday as a low pressure area off the SoCal coast directs Nortbert’s remnants and more monsoon moisture northeastward.

Storms will be widespread by Monday afternoon with the potential for heavy rain and small hail, as well as a chance for flash floods and debris flows.

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Dry air (brown) prevailed over Colorado Saturday morning, but Hurricane Norbert may help boost another surge of late-season monsoon moisture poised to the south.



		

	

Study: Coral reef restoration can help protect coastal dwellers from rising storm surges

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Coral reef are gardens of biodiversity and also provide valuable services for coastal populations.

Research quantifies benefits of reef conservation

Staff Report

FRISCO — Coral reefs have long been recognized as important cradles of ocean biodiversity, but they also help protect coastal populations from the brunt of storms. A new study claims that reefs reduce wave energy that would otherwise impact coastlines by 97 percent.

“Coral reefs serve as an effective first line of defense to incoming waves, storms and rising seas,” said Dr. Michael Beck, lead marine scientist with The Nature Conservancy and a co-author of the study, “200 million people across more than 80 nations are at risk if coral reefs are not protected and restored.” Continue reading

Climate: Are tropical storms migrating north?

Along with affecting the marine food chain, declining concentrations of phytoplankton in the oceans could impact global weather patterns.

Tropical cyclones appear to be migrating north.

Study finds that point of maximum intensity has moved poleward by 35 miles per decade

Staff Report

FRISCO — Tropical storm trackers say that the location where cyclones reach their maximum intensity is shifting north by about 35 miles each decade. The changes could put more coastal infrastructure at risk, while other areas that rely on tropical storms for water could be left high and dry, researchers said.

The amount of poleward migration varies by region. The greatest migration is found in the northern and southern Pacific and South Indian Oceans, but there is no evidence that the peak intensity of Atlantic hurricanes has migrated poleward in the past 30 years. Continue reading

2013 hurricane season ends with a whimper

2013 saw fewest number of storms since 1982

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Most of the tropical storms that formed in 2013 didn’t develop into full-fledged hurricanes and many of them stayed well out to sea.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Despite early projections for above-average hurricane activity in the Atlantic, the season ended Nov. 30 with a whimper after the fewest number of hurricanes since 1982. Even so, the storms that did form killed more than 140 people and resulted in $15. billion in damage.

In a release, NOAA attributed the low activity to persistent, unfavorable atmospheric conditions over the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea, and tropical Atlantic Ocean — especially early in the season, when dry and dusty air dominated the atmosphere off the coast of Africa and into the central tropical Atlantic.

This year is expected to rank as the sixth-least-active Atlantic hurricane season since 1950, in terms of the collective strength and duration of named storms and hurricanes. Continue reading

Flash flood watch posted for western Colorado

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The remnants of Tropical Storm Ivo, off the coast of Baja, are pumping tropical moisture into the Southwest.

Tropical storm off Baja pumping moisture into Southwest

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — So far, the Atlantic hurricane season hasn’t been particularly active, but in the eastern Pacific, nine named storms have formed, most of them moving out to sea with little impact to land areas.

But the latest in the series, Tropical Depression Ivo, is dawdling off the west coast of Baja California and sending moisture streaming into northwestern Mexico and the southwestern U.S. The moisture could affect much of western Colorado and eastern Utah Sunday and Monday, with another round of heavy thunderstorms possible. Continue reading

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