Focusing on the Tropics (8-18-12)
With a bit of a lull in our weather (dry and relatively cool, for a change) I thought I would devote a little time in the latest blog to the tropics.It’s not that it’s been exactly quiet. With Helene currently falling apart over northern Mexico and Hurricane Gordon churning far out in the Atlantic Ocean we are up to eight named storms for the season. That is ahead of the pace of a normal hurricane season. It’s more that the latest couple of storms have not impacted the United States and the earlier ones were mainly rain makers down over the Southeast:And actually there was more rain that fell from a non-tropical low that moved over the Florida panhandle in early June than from Alberto, Beryl or Debby.We are now approaching what is typically the busiest time for tropical storms and hurricanes in the Atlantic. The following chart shows the peak is in early September and there is, on average, an rather noticeable uptick between now and September 10th:
As they do every year, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) has issued an updated hurricane forecast for the rest of the season. The update came August 9th and they think the season is going to end up a bit more active than they first thought. Instead of 9-15 named storms (hurricanes and tropical storms) they are now saying 12-17 are possible. This comes in spite of the return of El Nino, the warming of sea surface temperatures out in the equatorial Pacific Ocean. An El Nino is usually not a good thing for tropical systems because El Nino is tied to stronger winds over the tropical Atlantic. This creates wind shear in the atmosphere which is not a good set up for hurricanes and tropical storms. The thinking from the NHC, however, is that since the El Nino is just now setting up it may not be until later in the season that we see an impact (i.e. quieter tropics). That means in the next 2 months or so we could have another 4 to 9 storms out in the Atlantic if the forecast pans out.It already appears that the next storm, Issac, could be in the making well to the east. In fact, in this Tropical Update sent out just this evening, the NHC increase the odds of a cluster of storms off the African coast becoming a storm to 60%.
Now I wouldn’t read too much into this at this point BUT the last couple runs of the GFS computer model have placed this storm somewhere off the East Coast the last week of August.
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