Tuesday, April 10, 2012

2012 Season almost here

On the "On-deck circle"

Highlights of Hurricane conference 2012

This year marks the 20th anniversary of hurricane Andrew striking South Florida. The biggest worry this year at NHC, is "Hurricane Amnesia". We have been very lucky over the last 5 to 6 years in which no storm has made a direct impact or caused major damage and because of this, experts worry that when a real threat develops, few people will heed the advice to move out.

Its incredible to think that when Andrew was brewing there were no forecast models available to TV forecasters. There was no Internet, nor NWS chat.

Things that have improved.
  • Technology: Better models, computers, reconnaissance etc...One expert said, to the dismay of the attendees,"forecasters aren't getting better...models are."
  • As has been said many times before, forecast tracks have greatly improved, but not intensity forecasting. The reason for this is that the features that control the path of a storm are much bigger than those impacting strength. The resolution has to improve on this issue as well as more eye observations.

What is new:
  • The Genesis forecast will be extended out to 5 days. This is the graphic that shows the percentage potential for individual waves to develop (CSU will have it out for 14 days).
  • Intensity forecasting  (even though there is very little skill) will also be extended to 7 days.
  • A separate disturbance forecast will also be issued. (For fast developing coastal systems like Humberto which developed in less than 18 hours.) NHC may even issue watches and warnings before the system actually develops.(Lets see how that plays out)
  • New Offshore Waters Forecast Zones effective April 3, 2012
  • Inland Flooding is now the top killer during a hurricane, no longer storm surge. This will be the new focus taken on by NHC.
  • NHC may actually issue watches and warnings even before a storm has actually developed. They will do this if they feel, according to forecast models, that a storm may develop quickly very close to land.  This will actually give cities a chance to prepare for the would be system.

Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale update

No Change to Categories 1-2 but
Category 3: 111-130 mph will change to 111-129 mph
Category 4: 131-155 mph will change to 130-156 mph
Category 5: 156 mph or higher will change to 157 mph or higher

Forecast Cone will be reduced in size(again). We Focus on Atlantic Basin

Forecast Period (hours)     Circle radius Atlantic Basin (nautical miles)       
              12                                                            36           
              24                                                            56
              36                                                            75       
              48                                                            95       
              72                                                           141       
              96                                                           180       
             120                                                          236     
Most interesting presentation, by Dr. Bill Gray

Dr. Gray spent 90 minutes arguing against Co2 being the main driver of climate change, or for that matter, causing more/stronger hurricanes. He says even though the world's Co2 level has increased over the last few years, the number of storms around the planet are less. His numbers from 1945 to 1969 (when Co2 was less) show a total 80 major hurricanes, while the number of major storms from 1970 through 1994, are less. Only 38.  (Interesting how he didn't include the activity from the active cycle that began in 1995 and in which we still find ourselves).

He says the main driver of Climate Change is Salt or the amount of saline in the oceans. This helps trap more solar radiation and thus warms up surface waters leading to more fuel for hurricanes. He blames the change in ocean currents as trapping more saline in the mid Atlantic. He says more fresh water runoff is responsible for the ocean currents changing and trapping the salt. (He did not however say that the extra fresh water runoff is from the melting of polar ice caps)

Here are the names for 2012. Followed by their pronunciation according to NOAA

Alberto             al-BAIR-toe
Beryl                 BER-ril
Chris                 kris
Debby               DEH-bee
Ernesto             er-NES-toh
Florence            FLOOR-ence
Gordon             GOR-duhn
Helene               heh-LEEN
Isaac                 EYE-zik
Joyce                 joyss
Kirk                  kurk
Leslie                LEHZ-lee
Michael             MY-kuhl
Nadine              nay-DEEN
Oscar                AHS-kur
Patty                 PAT-ee
Rafael                rah-fah--ELL
Sandy                SAN-dee
Tony                  TOH-nee
Valerie              VAH-lur-ee
William             WILL-yum

As always, you can check here for the very latest on any tropical activity during the 2012 season. You can also follow me on Facebook, Twitter, as well as our latest posting on the WSVN web page.

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