Atlantic Sat Image

Atlantic Sat Image
Clouds over Atlantic

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Hurricane Season 2015 is here

June 1st marks the start of Hurricane Season, a season that will stay with us for the next 6 months. I''m sure somewhere along the line there will be a moment or two of anxiety. however most outlooks call for a below average season as far as activity is concerned .

Experts site the phenomenon known as "El Niño", for the hopefully, lack luster projections.

Word of caution:
Over the years I have grown leery of these outlooks. They may lull you into thinking its going to be OK, and then when you least expected it.... pow! There's one at your doorstep.

The year 1992  was also forecast to be a quiet year.

We ended up with only 7 systems that year, unfortunately the one out of seven turned out to be Hurricane Andrew.

It was a vicious Category 5, the strongest on the hurricane wind scale, that just about leveled Deep Southern Miami Dade County.  So the bottom line is, "It only takes one".

Why the low expectations?:
NOAA says, “The main factor expected to suppress the hurricane season this year is El Niño, which is already affecting wind and pressure patterns, and is forecast to last through the hurricane season,” said Gerry Bell, Ph.D., lead seasonal hurricane forecaster with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.

“El Niño may also intensify as the season progresses, and is expected to have its greatest influence during the peak months of the season.

We also expect sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic to be close to normal, whereas warmer waters would have supported storm development.”

NOAA will update their outlook sometime in August just before we hit the peak of hurricane season in September.

What is El Niño?:
It is a warming of the equatorial waters of the Pacific Ocean. It  doesn't just affect marine currents but atmospheric ones as well.

This will lead to rain in areas typically with a dry climate, and the opposite in those with a wet seasonal regime.

The reason why its called "El Niño" is because it was discovered by Peruvian fishermen who noticed the warmer waters happening around Christmas time, so they named it after the Christ child or "El Niño" which means the boy child.

Here's what I recommend:

  • Sit with your entire family and make a list of foods you will eat that do not require refrigeration, cooking nor heating. Add up what you need for at least a three day period. The most important item should be water. You will need 2 gallons of water per person per day. Freeze those water jugs before the storm arrives, this way they serve a dual purpose- keeping your food cold and turning to drinking water once they thaw. You'll need 1 gallon per day for your pets. Don't forget about their food as well. Don't forget extra meds and a first aid kit.
  • Next, put all your important papers inside zip lock bags and place them in a plastic container with a locking lid. These papers should include insurance policies, car and house deeds, medical information, bank accounts etc. Take pictures of all your belongings and keep that zip drive in the bin as well.
  • Go outside and make an assessment of your house. If you have impact windows or accordion shutters,you should be good. If you have panels or wood, get them ready now with all the hardware you need. This way you can avoid the last minute shopping rush. Make a list of all items in your yard that may fly away and become deadly projectiles. These include potted plants, tables and chairs, toys, fountains, bird baths, etc
  • You should also trim those big branches that can break off and fall on your roof causing major damage. Don't do this before a storm strikes as all that yard waste will become flying missiles. 

Now that we've covered food, water, and home preps figure out how you will be entertained while the storm is hitting us.

Chances are you will have no power, so plenty of batteries, flashlights, and lanterns are essential.  ((NO CANDLES)) If these tip over they may cause a fire and help may not come during a storm.

Just remember, a hurricane will never take you by surprise.

If an earthquake happened right now there would be no warning. If I could give you 5 minutes notice before a tornado struck, I would be on my A-game.

Unlike all those disasters, you will see us ad nauseam on TV telling you a storm is approaching, sometimes as much as a week out, so you have plenty of time to prepare.

The entire 7 weather team is dedicated to keeping you informed this hurricane season if any threat comes our way, but we need for you to do your part.

Get what you need and be ready in case Mother Nature throws us a curve ball.

I am very proud of our weather staff, from left to right:

Weekend meteorologist Karlene Chavis, weather producer and graphics wizard, Natacha Langlois, yours truly in the middle, Morning meteorologist Vivian Gonzalez, and weekend night meteorologist Brent Cameron on the right.

Lets keep our fingers crossed it really will be a below average season.

Here's wishing you a very safe Hurricane Season.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

2015 Hurricane Seasonal Forecast

Hurricane season is here. It runs through the end of October. If you haven't taken the steps to prepare, the time has come to do so. I know we've been extremely lucky over the last 9 years without a direct impact, but that could change at any time.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that we may see a 10th year without hurricane activity, but the odds are against us.
By the numbers:
  • Florida's SE coast averages 1 hurricane strike just about every 4 years.
  • According to NOAA, since 1851, South Florida has been hit by 41 hurricanes with 15 of those being a major system, category 3 and above. They add that the longest stretch since 1885 without a direct hit, was the period between 1951 and 1959. That's 9 hurricane free years... the same as our present hurricane drought.

2015 Seasonal Forecast
NOAA is calling for a 70 percent likelihood of 6 to 11 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 3 to 6 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including zero to 2 major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of 111 mph or higher). While a below-normal season is likely (70 percent), there is also a 20 percent chance of a near-normal season, and a 10 percent chance of an above-normal season.

“A below-normal season doesn’t mean we’re off the hook. As we’ve seen before, below-normal seasons can still produce catastrophic impacts to communities,” said NOAA Administrator Kathryn Sullivan, Ph.D., referring to the 1992 season in which only seven named storms formed, yet the first was Andrew – a Category 5 Major Hurricane that devastated South Florida.

Now keep in mind these are just projections. There could be 40 hurricanes out in the Atlantic basin and if none make landfall... who would complain. However, it only takes one. Andrew arrived in a low season forecast year, with el Niño conditions and it practically leveled Deep Southern Miami-Dade County.
So prepare as if we will get hit and you will be ready for whatever Mother Nature sends our way.

Why this below average forecast?:
NOAA suggests "El Niño" which is a warming of the Equatorial waters of the Pacific , will cause hostile conditions in the Atlantic for hurricanes to grow.

You see, "El Niño, doesn't just affect marine currents but atmospheric ones as well.

This will lead to rain in areas typically with a dry climate, and the opposite in those with a wet seasonal regime.

The reason why its called "El Niño" is because it was discovered by Peruvian fishermen who noticed the warmer waters happening around Christmas time, so they named it after the Christ child or "El Niño" which means the boy child.

What can we expect?
"El Niño" will cause some strong upper level winds to race into the Atlantic cutting off the tops of any system that tries to develop. Even with this chainsaw in the atmosphere, systems can grow enough to overcome this hostile environment and grow.

NWS says,  "El Niño" will influence large-scale weather patterns which affect summer rainfall across South Florida.

Although it’s important to note that not every El Niño event has the same effects on Florida’s weather, the tendency from past El Niño events is for near to slightly-below normal summer rainfall across southern Florida.

During many El Niño summers, southern Florida sits on the northern edge of the climatologically-favored Caribbean dry summer regime, with some years extending more into Florida and other years remaining south of the state.

The most likely range for this wet season’s rainfall compared to normal is from 75% to 95% of normal, with a few areas likely to see higher or lower ratios.

How strong is "El Niño" so far:
Take a peek at the sea-surface temps already in the Pacific Ocean. Some areas are in the upper 80°s.

What next?

All we can do is wait and see what the season brings. The bottom line is GET READY.  A hurricane will never take you by surprise, unlike an earthquake which can happen at anytime without notice or a tornado which may give us a 5 minute window, you will get bored of seeing me on TV letting you one is on the way, so there is time to prepare and take action.

We will air a 1 hour hurricane preparedness special "Surviving a Storm", at 8 pm Friday May 29th. For you who have lived here all your lives, it will be a handy reminder of what to do in case a storm threatens. For you who have recently moved here, its "Must See" television. It will get you ready for the season ahead.

As always I will update you through this Blog, on our Hurricane App, my Facebook page as well as WSVN's Facebook, Twitter, our Hurricane Hotline and as needed with Live updates through Periscope.   I wish everyone of you a safe hurricane season.

Monday, May 18, 2015

35th Anniversary of Mt. St. Helens' Eruption

For those of you who remember, it was an incredible show of force and raw power by Mother Nature.  The following is a look back article courtesy of Nasa.

Nasa link to Article

Thursday, May 14, 2015

10 years without a major landfalling hurricane?

A new study suggests that no major hurricane (category 3, or above 111 mph) has struck the US in the last 9 years. This is the longest so called "Hurricane Drought" we've had since records started back in 1851. Could we make it 10 years in a row?

The previous longest streak was between 1861 and 1868.  The last time we had a major system strike the US, was Wilma in 2005 and we all know how that turned out.

Several Cat 3's have made landfall over Cuba but quickly ran out of juice before impacting the US.

This doesn't mean we haven't had hurricanes hit, they just weren't category threes. For example:
  1. Hurricane Ike a category 2, struck in 2008
  2. Hurricane Irene another category 1, made landfall in 2011
  3. Hurricane Sandy yet another category 1, hit the northeast in 2012. This last one caused plenty of damage.
Two researchers investigated the likelihood of this so called drought to happen again.  Timothy Hall, hurricane researcher at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City, partnered with Kelly Hereid, who works for Stamford, Connecticut-based ACE Tempest Reinsurance, a private company that insures insurance companies.
 After a lengthy process, they came up with this statistic:

  • Roughly a quarter of all tropical systems in the North Atlantic hit the United States
  • The average wait time for a nine-year drought is 177 years, making it rare but not impossible
  • What's more, there is a 39 percent chance that the hurricane drought could end in 2015
Lets hope we can continue this Hurricane Drought. Keep your fingers crossed. We've already had a tropical storm by the name of "Ana", and the season hasn't even started yet. It officially begins June 1st. This is a good time to start prepping for a season that lasts 6 months.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Auroras on Mars?

Green skies on a red planet?  You bet.

Last December, a NASA spacecraft named "Maven", detected what scientists call "evidence of widespread Aurora's in the Northern Hemisphere". They said the auroras wrapped around the equator like a string of Christmas lights. NASA said if that display happened here, the auroras would have been seen as far South as Florida.  

The following is from a NASA article:

"It really is amazing," says Nick Schneider who leads MAVEN's Imaging Ultraviolet Spectrograph (IUVS) instrument team at the University of Colorado.  "Auroras on Mars appear to be more wide ranging than we ever imagined."

A map of MAVEN's Imaging Ultraviolet Spectrograph (IUVS) auroral detections in December 2014 overlaid on Mars’ surface. The map shows that the aurora was widespread in the northern hemisphere, not tied to any geographic location. The aurora was detected in all observations during a 5-day period. Credits: University of Colorado  
This isn't the first time a spacecraft has detected auroras on Mars.  Ten years ago, the European Space Agency's Mars Express found an ultraviolet glow coming from "magnetic umbrellas" in the southern hemisphere.

Unlike Earth, Mars does not have a global magnetic field that envelops the entire planet.  Instead, Mars has umbrella-shaped magnetic fields that sprout out of the ground like mushrooms, here and there, but mainly in the southern hemisphere.  These umbrellas are remnants of an ancient global field that decayed billions of years ago.   

"The canopies of the patchwork umbrellas are where we expect to find Martian auroras," says Schneider. "But MAVEN is seeing them outside these umbrellas, so this is something new."
Auroras occur, both on Earth and Mars, when energetic particles from space rain down on the upper atmosphere.

On Earth, these particles are guided toward the poles by our planet's global magnetic field.  That's why auroras are seen most often around the Arctic and Antarctic. On Mars, there is no organized planetary magnetic field to guide the particles north and south—so they can go anywhere.
"The particles seem to precipitate into the atmosphere anywhere they want," says Schneider. "Magnetic fields in the solar wind drape across Mars, even into the atmosphere, and the charged particles just follow those field lines down into the atmosphere."

According to the MAVEN data, solar particles that caused the "Christmas lights" penetrated deeply into the Martian atmosphere---sparking auroras less than 100 km from the surface.  That's lower than auroras on Earth, which range from 100 km to 500 km high.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Ready to develop

Recon flew into a disturbance Thursday morning, and detected a low a couple of hundreds miles SE of the Carolinas.

This is what they found:

The low is stationary , there is some wind with it 40-45 mph in the NW sector, with some pockets of heavy rain.  If it does develop it may well be a sub-tropical storm.   This is basically a hybrid system between a regular area of low pressure with a cold center, and a tropical system with a warm center. Either way, its going to be a soggy weekend for the Mid Atlantic States.

NHC also adds: (Their latest update)
Advisories on this system nay start at 11pm Thursday Night .Environmental conditions are favorable for some additional development, and any increase in the organization of the associated thunderstorm activity would result in the formation of a subtropical

The low is expected to drift to the north or north-
northwest over the next couple of days, and interests along the southeastern coast of the United States should continue to monitor the progress of this system. Regardless of development, heavy rain
is expected over portions of the coastal southeastern United States
for the next few days.

This is a good reminder that Hurricane season begins June 1st.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Disturbance East of Florida looking better

NHC has been watching an area of disturbed weather over the last few days. This area of clouds and rain has brought us a few downpours from time to time and there is still a chance for some rain for the rest of the week.

The recon mission scheduled for today was scrubbed, but there is another one on stand-by for Thursday at 10am.

As of early Wednesday afternoon South Florida had seen just a few showers, but there is more activity just offshore and Northwestern Bahamas that could provide us with spotty rain. 

NHC says it appears an area of low pressure is forming, and this area of clouds and rain may develop as it moves over the warm waters of the Gulf Stream current.

As you know, warm waters of at least 80°s is one of the main ingredients for tropical systems to grow. This is like their gasoline, and there is plenty of that where the disturbance sits. We could see a sub-tropical or tropical system developing.

What is the difference between a sub-tropical and a tropical storm?
A tropical storm draws most of its energy from the warm ocean waters and thus has a warm core. A sub-tropical storm may act the same, but it works as a "typical low" like the type you would find over land, thus its center is cold.

This is the latest as of 2pm Wednesday from NHC: 
Conditions are expected to become gradually more favorable for development over the next day or so while this system moves slowly northward and then northwestward.

A subtropical or tropical cyclone could form by tomorrow or Friday, and interests along the southeast coast of the United States should
monitor the progress of this system through the weekend.  

Regardless of development, heavy rain is possible over portions of the coastal southeastern United States beginning Thursday.  The chances for organization have grown to 60% throughout the next 5 days.

If it develops, where is it headed?
First we must take into account that nothing has developed as of this writing.

Since there is no starting point, computers can't give us an ending point, so at this moment they are purely guessing.

NHC has deemed this area of disturbed weather as  INVEST 90L (because they would like to INVESTigate it further).  These are the very first model runs... again most are just guessing.

What should we prepare for:
With a possible tropical system near by, downpours cannot be ruled out over the next few days.
These downpours may cause street flooding.

This is a good reminder, that the hurricane season starts June 1st. Take the time now to prepare for a season that lasts 6 months and should be ready for whatever Mother Nature throws our way.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Recon on Stand-by

A hurricane hunter plane is on stand-by for Wednesday afternoon if need be to check out the area of disturbed weather to our east. There are plenty of clouds and rain extending from the Caribbean, through Florida, the Bahamas, and into the Western Atlantic. If there was a center to this mess its just north of the Bahamas.

This blob  will continue to provide us with very wet moments, and then dry lulls at least until the end of the week.

Because we may get some heavy rain, there is always the potential for street flooding.
Since it is windy at the beach, the threat of Rip Currents will remain present.  

What is NHC saying ?
Aside from the potential recon mission tomorrow, the info is limited. They have been providing only one briefing a day. The next one will be issued Wednesday morning at 10 am.

 They think that over the next 2 days this disturbance has a 20% chance that it could become something stronger. They also give it a 40% chance that it could grow stronger between days 3 and 5.

If it turns into anything at all, it will do so East and away from Florida. Spaghetti models, or any model, at this stage of the game is pure guess work. Since nothing has developed, there is nothing to forecast.

Aside from some rain and rough seas I believe we will stay away from whatever, if anything, develops. This is a good reminder however that hurricane season is just around the corner starting June 1st.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Something to watch in Caribbean

 NHC says that an area of clouds and rain could become a subtropical system in around 5 days in an area East of Jacksonville. This area stretches from the Bahamas through the Straits, into Cuba and the Caribbean, and is slowly moving north and should be responsible for a wetter forecast for us over the next few days. NHC gives this feature a 30% chance of actually developing.  Their next update will be Tuesday at 11 am.

This is where NHC thinks it may develop in about 5 days. Repeating: There is a 30% chance of it happening.
 If it does develop into a subtropical storm, very early model runs aim in to the Carolinas. Now, keep in mind NOTHING has developed yet, so if there is nothing to track now, the models are just pure guessing. 

The forecast in this graphic shows what MAY happen IF something were to actually develop

They are also calling it right now, a possible SUB-tropical storm. This means it will be a mix between a regular low pressure system, and that of a typical tropical system. A tropical system has a warm center, a subtropical has a cold center so it doesn't have too much of a chance of really packing a punch (Kind of a Pacquiao storm).

What we should prepare for: 
The possibility of increasing rainfall through midweek. Tuesday could be the wettest day and that may lead to some street flooding. As the week progresses and the disturbance moves north, we should see more sun and less rain.

The threat meter on this feature is extremely low. Again, NOTHING has developed yet, it may in 5 days and the chances of that happening are 30%. This is a good reminder that hurricane season is right around the corner and you should start preparing for a season that lasts 6 months. It officially begins June 1st.