From all the indications, Hurricane Ike is going to have a major impact on the Texas coast during the next 36 hours.  Ike is a huge storm with category 2 winds (as of now, perhaps 3 by landfall) but since it is immense, the storm surge is going to cause the most damage on all sides of the point of landfall.  Winds will be a large problem nearest the landfall, but surge is going to be a problem all along the coast. You can join the discussion here: http://www.hurricane.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=11&t=191

An excellent article over at the Houston Chronicle on the NHC’s recent rush to name storms.  http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/front/5337583.html

… a controversy is brewing over decisions of the National Hurricane Center to designate several borderline systems as tropical storms.

Some meteorologists, including former hurricane center director Neil Frank, say as many as six of this year’s 14 named tropical systems might have failed in earlier decades to earn “named storm” status.
…such information is vital to scientists trying to determine whether global warming has had a measurable impact on hurricane activity.

Looking back at Hurricane Humberto, it is notable that Hurricane Humberto developed from a tropical depression into a category 1 hurricane in less than 18 hours. Quite a feat. Even within hours of our previous post the satellite pictures were looking quite impressive and radar too.

Tropical Depression 8 formed today well out in the Atlantic at 11am according to the National Hurricane Center. TD 8 was looking good on the satellite last evening so this comes as no surprise. TD 9 also formed in the Gulf of Mexico and Tropical Storm warnings are up for parts of Texas.

Likewise, no one should be surprised if we have Tropical Storm Humberto and/or Ingrid by later today or tomorrow.

Any bets on whether TD 9 will be Ingrid or Humberto?

Our best guess is the TD 9 will be Humberto and TD 8 will be Ingrid. [Turned out to be the way it happend. ]While TD 8 looks more impressive on the satellite, an Air Force aircraft will be investigating TD 9 sooner than TD 8 and given its proximity to Texas, it will likely be named first. [As time showed, Humberto’s overall organization improved very quickly after this post.]

Hurricane Dean had the third lowest landfall central pressure of any Atlantic Hurricane. This is after Hurricane Gilbert in 1988 and the Labor Day hurricane of 1935.

Maximum winds were 165 mpg with gusts reaching 200 mph with a centeral pressure of 906 mb.

The 1935 Labor Day hurricane (892 mb) which hit the Florida Keys.
Hurricane Gilbert (900 mb estimated) hit Cancun, Mexico in 1988.

Only 8 other Category 5 Hurricanes have hit land in recorded history: Hurricane Andrew in 1992 (165 mph winds at landfall) and Hurricane Camille in 1969 were two others.

Hurricane Wilma (2005) remains the strongest Atlantic hurricane with 882 millibars while the strongest Pacific storm was Typhoon Tip (1979) with 870 mb and 190 mph winds.

After watching Hurricane Dean all week, Hurricane Dean has strengthened significantly today. As of the 11pm advisory Dean has 145 mph winds and a 937mb central pressure. Models and the NHC forecast continued strengthening over the next 24 hours. No matter how you slice it an extremely dangerous storm.

Currently the model consensus has Dean passing directly over Jamaica. Several things should be noted. If the eye of Hurricane Dean does pass directly over Jamaica, the high elevations of Jamaica should disrupt the storm significantly. Simiarly, if the eye passes near enough to Jamaica the mountainous terrain will likewise disrupt Dean, the question is how much of an impact the mountains will have.

All that said, it will be interesting to see how accurate the models are. Given that we are still around 40 hours away from a potential Jamaica impact, much can changed based on the speed that Dean continues to move westward. Dean’s westward speed will determine how much various features (e.g. the high over the SE US right now) move Hurricane Dean around. A slowing Dean (now 18 mph speed) will probably lead to a more southerly track whereas a faster moving Dean would lead to a more northerly track the farther out you go.

Up to 72 hours models are generally pretty accurate (some exceptions such as Hurricane Erin in 1995 when bad data was entered) so take precautions now. For more than 48 hours, everyone from Florida, through the Gulf Coast down to Central America should watch this storm and be prepared to take action as directed by local authorities. As you can see (as of 11pm, August 17, 2007), the NHC has a large area still in the 5% Tropical Storm Force Wind Speed Probabilities.

Preparation is key.

As June 2007 comes to an end let’s take stock to see where the season stands. So far the Atlantic Basin has had 2 tropical storms – Andrea and Barry with Chantal to be next. Seems like a pretty quiet season so far, doesn’t it?

To see where we stand, let’s recall some other record breaking years, starting with 2005 which as we all know was a record-breaking season. If you had to guess, how many storms had formed by the end of June 2005? Well? 5? 7? By June 30, 2005, there had been a total of 2 storms – Arlene and Bret. It wasn’t until July 5 that we had both Tropical Storm Cindy and Dennis. We had Emily on July 11th and then Franklin on July 22. Gert arrived on July 23. So, we had 2 storms through the end of June in 2005 and 7 storms by the end of July 2005.

The second busiest season was 1933 had one storm form in May and one storm form in June. Just like 2007. July ended with five storms and the season ended with 21 storms. 1934 also had one May storm and one June storm, and three storms by the end of July, again just like 2007. It ended with 11 storms. So a record breaking season, and a below average season both had the same number of storms by the end of June.

Now, looking at 2004, another season that was memorable. By the end of June 2004 we already had 0 storms. Zero? Seriously? Yes. Alex didn’t arrive until July 31st. But by the end of August 2004 though, we had already had Hermine. 2004 was memorable not for the shear number of storms, but for the places they hit.

Some other seasons:
2002: 1 by the end of July, season ended with Lili.
2003: By June 30th, we had had Ana (April 20-24) and Bill (June 29-July 02) and we ended up the season with Peter.
2004: Zero storms by the end of June and 1 on July 31st. Ended with Otto.
2005: 2 storms by the end of June and ended with Zeta.
2006: 1 storm by the end of June, 3 by the end of July, ended with Isaac.

(Interesting note, in 1981, Arlene formed on May 6-May 9 and Bret from June 29-July 1, so the season was similar to 2007 so far and 1981 ended with 12 storms including a subtropical storm in November).

So what does it mean that there have “only” been two storms by the end of June, 2007? Absolutely nothing in our view. Busy seasons like 2005 and 1933 have had a June like this, while more quiet seasons like 1981 and 1934 have had similar Junes.

In fact, there are only 13 known seasons (as of 2007) since 1851 that have had 2 tropical storms form in June. June 2007 has only had one storm form during the month, but one in May.

The Chicken Littles would have you think that the Junes of 2005, 2006, and 2007 should be significantly worse than the Junes of 1933 and 1934 given we’ve had nearly 75 years of carbon emissions. Perhaps the link isn’t quite as strong as some people want to believe? Remember that it only takes one storm – see Andrew, the first storm of the season in 1992 hitting Miami – to have a devastating and memorable season. Preparation is key whether we have one storm or ten storms.

Will 2007 be a busy season? We’ll let you know in November 2007, but it is difficult to predict the rest of the season based on the season up through June.

A nice article on the current state of climate research, and the impact that the sun and sun spots have on climate. With all the talk about Hurricanes and global warming, it is critical that the information and debate be based in reality.

The article includes this quotation:

Climate stability has never been a feature of planet Earth. The only constant about climate is change; it changes continually and, at times, quite rapidly. Many times in the past, temperatures were far higher than today, and occasionally, temperatures were colder. As recently as 6,000 years ago, it was about 3C warmer than now. Ten thousand years ago, while the world was coming out of the thou-sand-year-long “Younger Dryas” cold episode, temperatures rose as much as 6C in a decade — 100 times faster than the past century’s 0.6C warming that has so upset environmentalists.

Read the rest of this entry »

A key hurricane satellite, called QuikSCAT, could fail at anytime according to the NOAA’s Administrator Conrad Lautenbacher. Launched June 19 of 1999 (http://winds.jpl.nasa.gov/missions/quikscat/index.cfm) with a 2-3 year mission life, the satellite is 5-6 years past its projected life span and running on a backup transmitter. Read the rest of this entry »

Tropical Storm Barry on June 1st to welcome in the 2007 season? We’ll see, but it is a big possibility. [Edit: As events have borne out, it was a big possibility. 100%]

Hurricane Hunters did find flight level winds around 60 miles per hour around 2-3pm EDT today while at 500 feet, so there are some good winds in the area but no organization – which is obvious from the satellite views. Lots of rain and some convection. Likewise the hurricane hunters found a pretty low pressure for a system with such poor organization – around 1000 MB (which is around 29.53 inches of mercury).

The primary impact so far for those of us in Florida is rain in the southern 3/4 of the state which is certainly welcome.

We’ll keep you informed as more information is known.