Hurricane experts still see active season ahead

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Hurricane Sandy as seen from NOAA’s GOES-13 satellite on October 28, 2012. Photo courtesy NOAA/NASA.

Warm ocean temps, strong West Africa rainy season boost chances for tropical formation

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Federal weather experts this week reaffirmed their earlier projections of an active hurricane season in the Atlantic, with hemispheric patterns similar to those that have produced many active Atlantic hurricane seasons since 1995.

Ingredients for tropical storm formation include above-average Atlantic sea surface temperatures and a stronger rainy season in West Africa, which produces wind patterns that help turn storm systems there into tropical storms and hurricanes.

The peak of the Atlantic hurricane season is just ahead, from mid-August through mid-October. Continue reading

Weather: NOAA predicting active Atlantic hurricane season

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Hurricane Sandy near peak strength on Oct. 25, 2012. Photo courtesy NOAA.

Feds say now is the time to get ready

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Federal weather experts said they are expected an above-average to active Atlantic Hurricane season this summer, urging residents of coastal and near-coastal areas in the southeastern U.S. to start preparing now.

Based on a combination of climate factors, NOAA predicted as many as 13 to 20 named storms, with seven to 11 of them developing into full-fledged hurricanes and potentially three to six major hurricanes with winds of more than 100 mph.

Factors involved in the forecast include a continuation of overall climate conditions that have resulted in an active pattern since the mid-1990s: Above average sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic and ENSO-neutral conditions in the Pacific which leads to less windshear, lower air pressure and overall atmospheric circulation that’s more conducive to hurricane formation. Continue reading

Global warming: More hurricanes in Hawaii?

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Hurricane Iniki reached Kauai in September 1992 as a Category 4 storm, with winds up to 140 mph.

Study projects two to three times as many storms by the end of the century

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Large scale shifts in hemispheric circulation patterns and ocean temperatures are likely to steer more hurricanes toward the Hawaiian Islands in coming decades.

A poleward shift of the subtropical jet stream and warmer temperatures over the equatorial central Pacific will combine to make the storms two to three times as likely by the last quarter of the century, according to scientists with the International Pacific Research Center, University of Hawaii at Manoa. Continue reading

Volunteers wanted to help with hurricane research

Hurricane Gilbert, courtesy NOAA.

New website enables public to help assess tropical storm intensity

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — When it comes to assessing hurricane intensity, the more eyeballs the better, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which is asking the public to browse an archive of historic satellite images to help scientists develop more accurate intensity estimates.

The method for determining the strength of tropical cyclones has been applied differently around the world and has changed over time. That inconsistency has led to uncertainties in the global historical record of tropical cyclone activity, especially in parts of the world where additional data sources such as aircraft reconnaissance are not available. After many people review the same image, scientists will then use that feedback to come up with new estimates of a cyclone’s intensity.

The National Climatic Data Center launched the new website, CycloneCenter.org, this weekend. The site enables volunteers to examine color-enhanced images from 30 years of tropical cyclones taken from the archives of NCDC’s Hurricane Satellite Data system. Then, the site guides users through a process to analyze a specific hurricane image and answer questions, using a simplified technique for estimating the maximum surface wind speed of tropical cyclones. Continue reading

Could cloud-seeding weaken hurricanes?

Researchers propose cloud-brightening to avert strong storms

A composite NOAA image of Hurricane Andrew, in 1992.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — While hurricanes are often feared as a destructive force of nature, they are also one of nature’s great climate regulators, helping to disperse ocean and atmospheric heat away from the equatorial region.

But some environmental scientists think it might be a good idea to reduce the intensity of hurricanes by seeding clouds to decrease sea surface temperatures when hurricanes form. Theoretically, the scientists claim the technique could reduce hurricane intensity by a category.

The team focused on the relationship between sea surface temperature and the energy associated with the destructive potential of hurricanes. Rather than seeding storm clouds or hurricanes directly, the idea is to target marine stratocumulus clouds, which cover an estimated quarter of the world’s oceans, to prevent hurricanes forming.

“Hurricanes derive their energy from the heat contained in the surface waters of the ocean,” said Dr Alan Gadian from the University of Leeds. “If we are able to increase the amount of sunlight reflected by clouds above the hurricane development region then there will be less energy to feed the hurricanes.” Continue reading

Study: Hurricanes are clustered, not random

A new study suggests hurricanes come in clusters. IMAGE COURTESY NOAA.

Findings could help forecasters, insurance agencies and resource managers

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY —A study of hurricane tracks during the past 100 years suggests that tropical storm activity is clustered rather than random, with short intense periods of hurricanes followed by relatively long quiet periods. The trend was most pronounced in the Caribbean, with strong clustering in Florida, the Bahamas, Belize, Honduras, Haiti and Jamaica.

The findings, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, could have profound implications for hurricane forecasting and for monitoring impacts of tropical storms to coastal ecosystems and human populations. Continue reading

Hurricane landfall frequency linked to La Niña

In a study published in the Journal of Climate, University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science scientists have found an intriguing relationship between hurricane tracks and climate variability. The team studied data from the Atlantic gathered between 1950-2010, unlocking some noteworthy results and trends. Graph courtesy Angela Colbert.

Fewer storms in El Niño years

by Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Looking back at 81 years of hurricane data enabled University of Miami researchers to link cyclical climate variations with the likelihood of hurricane landfalls in the U.S.

The study shows there are more tropical cyclones during La Niña years, and that a greater percentage of those storms strike somewhere along the North American coast.

“In a typical El Niño season, we found that storms have a higher probability of curving back out into the ocean as opposed to threatening to make landfall along the East Coast of the US due to a change in the circulation across the Atlantic,” said Angela Colbert, a graduate student at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science. “This is important for not only weather forecasting, but insurance companies, who can use these findings when determining seasonal and yearly quote rates,” said Colbert. Continue reading

Tropical Storm Don spurs watches along Texas coast

Tropical Storm Don takes aim at Texas.

Coastal areas could see near-hurricane conditions Saturday morning

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — If it stays on course for the next 48 hours, Tropical Storm Don could be a drought-busting storm for parts of the south-central plains, especially Texas, that are experiencing historic dryness. Rainfall is 10 or move inches below average for the past year across parts of the area, So Don’s moisture could bring some relief an help firefighters who have been battling the biggest fires ever reported in Texas.

Tropical Storm Don is currently located of the tip of the Yucatan Peninsula and is expected to strengthen over the warmer waters of the Gulf of Mexico. But for now, forecast models are holding Don at tropical storm strength until just before it makes landfall. The forecast discussion from the National Hurricane Center discusses the possibility of additional strengthening just before the storm hits the coast. Tropical storm watches have been issued for large parts of the coast. Continue reading

Hurricane Beatriz dissipates and moves away from Mexico

A NOAA wind-history map of Hurricane Beatriz showing the extent of hurricane force (red) and tropical storm-force winds along the southwest coast of Mexico.

Pacific storm brushes southwest coast of Mexico, with heavy mountain rains, intense surf and some flooding

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Hurricane Beatriz was downgraded to a tropical storm that is now veering away from the coastline of Mexico, but not before brushing a long stretch of mountains and beaches with high winds, powerful surf and heavy rain.

Waves as big as 10 to 13 feet crashed ashore along the coast of Guerrero, Michoacan, Colima and Jalisco, and Mexican new agencies were reporting some flooding in the mountains and along the coast. Continue reading

Hurricane Beatriz rakes Mexico’s Pacific coast

Hurricane Beatriz off the Pacific coast of Mexico in a NOAA satellite image.

Category 1 storm taking aim at Puerto Vallarta

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Although the National Hurricane Center is predicting a 70 percent chance of a below-normal hurricane season in the eastern Pacific, the second named storm of the summer — Hurricane Beatriz — has formed and is expected to rake the Mexican coast between Zihjuatanejo and Manzanillo the next few days.

Beatriz strengthened to hurricane force Monday (June 20) and is tracking along the coast with sustained winds of 90 mph reaching about 25 miles outward from its center. Tropical storm-force winds extend outward about 100 miles from the center. The storm will affect the shore and coastal mountains in Guerrero, Jalisco, Colima and Michoacan. Continue reading

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