Atlantic Sat Image

Atlantic Sat Image
Clouds over Atlantic

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Here we go.....

This is the time of year when just about everyone who follows, tracks, and forecast hurricanes, issue their predictions for the upcoming season.

The Weather Channel and some others have already made their numbers public and now so has the team at Colorado State University headed by Dr. Bill Gray.

Dr. Gray, along with fellow researcher, Phil Klotzbach, is expecting a busier than average season with 18 named systems, out of which, 9 could become hurricanes, and out of that number maybe 4 could grow to major status (those with winds greater than 110 mph).

An average year sees 12, 6, and 3 storms respectively.

The reasons for the higher than average forecast:
  • They suggest that the Tropical Atlantic waters have warmed over the last few months (this could provide some extra energy for systems to form and grow).

  • Plus, data from the Pacific Ocean say the phenomenon known as El Nino, may not happen this year. As you know, El Nino, is a warming of the Equatorial waters of the Pacific and they impact marine and atmospheric currents worldwide. These currents make conditions in the Atlantic hostile for hurricanes to form. With its absence, the chances for storm formation are greater.

  • Plus they add, we remain in a long term cycle of increased tropical activity.

The CSU team released the odds of a storm impact:

  • A 48% chance of one major hurricane impacting the Nation's East Coast (including the Florida peninsula).
  • A 72% chance of one major hurricane impacting the Nation's entire East Coastline.
  • A 47% chance of one major hurricane impacting the Gulf Coast region from the Panhandle, to Brownsville, Texas.

Florida has not had a direct hit by a hurricane since 2005.

Hurricane season starts on June 1 and runs through Nov. 30. Now is the time to start gearing up your preps, remember, it only takes one storm to hit and make a mess of things. 

Monday, April 8, 2013

Better tornado intensity forecasting

Typically weather is news when something terrible has happened, a hurricane, a major flood, or a tornado, But now weather is making news as meteorologists get a new tool to help us better determine how strong a tornado might be.

It now appears that the amount of spin in rising air is strongly connected to the length of the path of tornadoes.
If this new research pans out, it could help forecasters pinpoint the projected track of a twister and help warn communities in the path of the storm.  

These new forecast models can help identify the make-up of  individual storms which in turn can help forecasters get a better handle on how strong an outbreak might be.

This is what NOAA has to say:
Researchers believe that models can reveal important clues about the type of severe weather storms can spawn in localized areas. The problem is similar to using Doppler radar observations to predict whether a storm is producing a tornado or not. Doppler radars don’t have sufficient resolution to detect tornadoes. However, if a "hook echo" feature is present in the radar data along with a strong signal for rotation, forecasters recognize that there is a good chance the storm is producing a tornado.  

In a similar way, although the next generation of forecast models will not have sufficient resolution to simulate tornadoes, they can skillfully predict the general characteristics of tornado-producing storms. Thus, when the forecast model predicts structures typically seen with observed tornadoes, this can indicate to forecasters that tornadic storms are likely.  

We can only hope this new tool will allow us to help warn our audience and keep them out of harms way.