Hurricane season begins today; normal June activity expected

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 1:38 PM GMT on June 01, 2009

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Hurricane season is upon us, and it's time to take a look at the prevailing conditions and 2-week forecast for tropical cyclone activity in the Atlantic. June is typically the quietest month of the Atlantic hurricane season. On average, we see only one named storm every two years in June. Only one major hurricane has made landfall in June--Category 4 Hurricane Audrey of 1957, which struck the Texas/Louisiana border area on June 27 of that year, killing 550. The highest number of named storms for the month is three, which occurred in 1936 and 1968. In the fourteen years since the current active hurricane period began in 1995, there have been eleven June named storms (if we include last year's Tropical Storm Arthur, which really formed on May 31). Five tropical storms have formed in the first half of June in that 14-year period, giving a historical 36% chance of a first-half-of-June named storm.


Figure 1. Tracks of all June tropical storms and hurricanes, 1851 - 2007.

Sea Surface Temperatures
Sea Surface Temperatures (SSTs) are close to average over the tropical Atlantic between Africa and Central America this year (Figure 2). These temperatures are some of the coolest we've seen since 1995, when the current active hurricane period began. This year's cool SSTs should prevent a repeat of the unforgettable Hurricane Season of 2005, which had the highest SSTs on record in the tropical Atlantic. Note also that SSTs along the Equatorial Pacific off the coast of South America are quite a bit above average, signaling the possible start of an El Niño episode. As I discussed in Friday's post, odds are increasing for a weak El Niño to form in time for hurricane season, and this should cut down on the number and intensity of Atlantic tropical storms and hurricanes this year. However, if an El Niño is developing, it shouldn't start affecting Atlantic hurricane activity until August.

Typically, June storms only form over the Gulf of Mexico, Western Caribbean, and Gulf Stream waters just offshore Florida, where water temperatures are warmest. SSTs are 26 - 28°C in these regions, which is about 0.5°C above average for this time of year. June storms typically form when a cold front moves off the U.S. coast and stalls out, with the old frontal boundary serving as a focal point for development of a tropical disturbance. African tropical waves, which serve as the instigators of about 85% of all major hurricanes, are usually too far south in June to trigger tropical storm formation. Every so often, a tropical wave coming off the coast of Africa moves far enough north to act as a seed for a June tropical storm. This was the case for Arthur of 2008 (which also had major help from the spinning remnants of the Eastern Pacific's Tropical Storm Alma). Another way to get Atlantic June storms is for a disturbed weather area in the Eastern Pacific Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) to push north into the Western Caribbean and spawn a storm there. This was the case for Tropical Storm Alberto of 2006 (which may have also had help from an African wave). SSTs are too cold in June to allow storms to develop between the coast of Africa and the Lesser Antilles Islands--there has only been once such development in the historical record--Ana of 1979, which coincidentally will be the name given to this year's first storm.


Figure 2. Sea Surface Temperature (SST) departure from average for June 1, 2009. SSTs were near average over the tropical Atlantic. Note the large region of above average SSTs along the Equatorial Pacific off the coast of South America, signaling the possible start of an El Niño episode. Image credit: NOAA/NESDIS.

Tropical Cyclone Heat Potential
It's not just the SSTs that are important for hurricanes, it's also the total amount of heat in the ocean to a depth of about 150 meters. Hurricanes stir up water from down deep due to their high winds, so a shallow layer of warm water isn't as beneficial to a hurricane as a deep one. The Tropical Cyclone Heat Potential (TCHP, Figure 3) is a measure of this total heat content. A high TCHP over 80 is very beneficial to rapid intensification. As we can see, the heat energy available in the tropical Atlantic has declined considerably since 2005, when the highest SSTs ever measured in the tropical Atlantic occurred. TCHP this year is similar to last year's levels, which were high enough to support five major hurricanes.


Figure 3. Tropical Cyclone Heat Potential (TCHP) for May 31 2005 (top), May 31 of last year (middle) and May 30 2009 (bottom). TCHP is a measure of the total heat energy available in the ocean. Record high values of TCHP were observed in 2005. TCHP this year is much lower, and similar to last year. Image credit: NOAA/AOML.

Wind shear
Wind shear is usually defined as the difference in wind between 200 mb (roughly 40,000 foot altitude) and 850 mb (roughly 5,000 foot altitude). In most circumstances, wind shear above 20 knots will act to inhibit tropical storm formation. Wind shear below 12 knots is very conducive for tropical storm formation. High wind shear acts to tear a storm apart. The jet stream's band of strong high-altitude winds is the main source of wind shear in June over the Atlantic hurricane breeding grounds, since the jet is very active and located quite far south this time of year.

The jet stream over the past few weeks has been locked into a pattern where a southern branch (the subtropical jet stream) brings high wind shear over the Caribbean, and a northern branch (the polar jet stream) brings high wind shear offshore of New England. This leaves a "hole" of low shear between the two branches off the coast of North Carolina, which is where Tropical Depression One formed. The low shear "hole" has dipped down into the northern Gulf of Mexico a few times. Disturbance 90L, which almost developed into a tropical storm before it came ashore in Mississippi/Alabama on May 23, took advantage of one of these low-shear areas.

The jet stream is forecast to maintain this two-branch pattern over the coming ten days. This means that the waters offshore of the Carolinas are the most likely place for a tropical storm to form during this period, though the northern Gulf of Mexico will at times have shear low enough to allow tropical storm formation. The latest 16-day forecast by the GFS model (Figure 4) predicts that the subtropical jet will weaken and retreat northwards by the middle of June, creating low-shear conditions over the Caribbean. This is a typical occurrence for mid-June, and we need to start watching the Western Caribbean for tropical storm formation by the middle of the month.


Figure 4. Wind shear forecast from the 00Z GMT June 1, 2009 run of the GFS model for June 1 (left panel) and June 17 (right panel). Currently, the polar jet stream is bringing high wind shear to the waters offshore New England, and the subtropical jet is bringing high wind shear to the Caribbean. This leaves the waters off the coast of North Carolina under low shear, making this area the most favored region for tropical storm formation over the next 7 - 10 days. By June 17, the subtropical jet is expected to weaken and move northwards, leaving the Caribbean under low shear, and favoring that region for tropical storm formation. Wind speeds are given in m/s; multiply by two to get a rough conversion to knots. Thus, the red regions of low shear range from 0 - 16 knots.

Dry air and African dust
It's too early to concern ourselves with dry air and dust coming off the coast of Africa, since these dust outbreaks don't make it all the way to the June tropical cyclone breeding grounds in the Western Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico. Developing storms do have to contend with dry air from Canada moving off the U.S. coast; this was a key reason why 2007's Subtropical Storm Andrea never became a tropical storm. Dr. Amato Evan of the University of Wisconsin will issue his dust forecast for the coming hurricane season later this week, and I'll be discussing his forecast in an upcoming post.

Steering currents
The steering current pattern over the past few weeks has been typical for June, with an active jet stream bringing many troughs of low pressure off the East Coast of the U.S. These troughs are frequent enough and strong enough to recurve any tropical storms or hurricanes that might penetrate north of the Caribbean Sea. Steering current patterns are predictable only about 3-5 days in the future, although we can make very general forecasts about the pattern as much as two weeks in advance. At present, it appears that the coming two weeks will maintain the typical June pattern, bringing many troughs of low pressure off the East Coast capable of recurving any June storms that might form. There is no telling what might happen during the peak months of August, September, and October--we might be in for a repeat of the favorable 2006 steering current pattern that recurved every storm out to sea--or the unfavorable 2008 pattern, that steered Ike and Gustav into the Gulf of Mexico.

Summary
Recent history suggests a 36% chance of a named storm occurring in the first half of June. The current conditions in the atmosphere and ocean are near average, so expect about a 1/3 chance of a named storm between now and June 15. The computer models are currently not forecasting development of any tropical storms over the next seven days.

I'll have an update Tuesday afternoon, when I'll discuss the Colorado State University June Atlantic Hurricane season forecast by Dr. Phil Klotzbach and Dr. Bill Gray, which will be issued Tuesday morning.

My next analysis and 2-week outlook for hurricane season is scheduled for June 13.

Jeff Masters

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Re WX being a factor in the Air France crash. Hubby and I have been light plane pilots since the early 70's. Once had the sad duty of scattering the ashes of one of our flying friends and their children because their plane was literally torn completely apart in a thunderstorm. Of course there's a difference between a jetliner in size and structural strength, but I've flown in clear air near the edge of a cell and the plane (a Cessna 182) been slapped by it like a giant hand and wound up tumbling away from it - Definitely a wake up about not getting near Tstorm tops. The violence inside a supercell is such that airline pilots use their radar to fly around them. Don't know what happened in this case but very sad.
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OK Question for you guys. Does anyone happen to know what the wind shear was over the area where the Air France flight went down? and with the altitude it was flying at is it realistic to suspect lightening to have struck the plan?
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GOESEAST GOM Visible
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Quoting homelesswanderer:
Just learning a whole lot today. Looking up the 1974 season and I found Hurricane Carmen. She was a beast! And N.O. dodged a huge bullet with that 1. And it was also the hurricane they were protraying in Forrest Gump that kicked off the Bubba Gump empire. LOL.

Link

Have a nice day all.


It snowed in 1973 in New Orleans also...
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Quoting stillwaiting:



Keep watching blobs under 40kts of shear all year and you'll drive your self crazy watching every blob,its a trough,thats it!!!


Yep that is you my Friend.......LOL
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Stillwaiting's Alantic Hurricane season 2009 outlook
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Everyone have a good DAy! BB late tonite.
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Quoting TampaSpin:
I am beginning to think we might see a surface Low try to devleop in time in the BOC!

Are you thinking along the trough that is there right now?
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Gotta run but, but here is the 144hr shear forecast....GOM has none!

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Quoting TampaSpin:
I am beginning to think we might see a surface Low try to devleop in time in the BOC!



Keep watching blobs under 40kts of shear all year and you'll drive your self crazy watching every blob,its a trough,thats it!!!
Member Since: October 5, 2007 Posts: 20 Comments: 4970
Just learning a whole lot today. Looking up the 1974 season and I found Hurricane Carmen. She was a beast! And N.O. dodged a huge bullet with that 1. And it was also the hurricane they were protraying in Forrest Gump that kicked off the Bubba Gump empire. LOL.

Link

Have a nice day all.
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87 degree gulf water temps here on Marco Island.
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Quoting TampaSpin:
I am beginning to think we might see a surface Low try to devleop in time in the BOC!


Its not out of the Question,
Wind Shear is going to relax in the Northern GOM over the next 24-48 Hours so the 12Z NAM isn't far-fetched at all, lets see if the 12Z GFS follows the NAM's footsteps.

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Quoting Cotillion:


...is the news that there's a plan for a move to dissolve Parliament. British elections *could* be coming very soon... Very interesting.


Huh? Wow! Maybe that'll catch on in Washington! ;)
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Very interesting, but this was one of the most difficult posts I've ever made. Crazy links, hidden text, etc. UGH! But, thanks Cotillion for the info, and it'll be fun learning more about it.


1943 Surprise Hurricane

The 1943 Surprise Hurricane struck the Houston, Texas area on July 27, 1943. While not a major hurricane, the storm was described as the worst since the 1915 hurricane, which tested the newly constructed seawall at Galveston, Texas, which struck Houston, Texas.

World War II, or the Second World War , was a global military conflict which involved a Participants in World War II, including all of the great powers, organised into two opposing military alliances: the Allies of World War II and the Axis powers, marked the first intentional meteorological flight into a hurricane. It started with a bet.

That summer, British pilots were being trained in instrument flying at Bryan Field. When they saw that the Americans were evacuating their T-6 Texan.

The T-6 Texan was a single-engine advanced trainer aircraft designed by North American Aviation, used to train Fighter aircraft pilots of the United States Army Air Forces, United States Navy, Royal Air Force and other air forces of the Commonwealth of Nations during World War II. They began questioning the construction of the aircraft. Lead instructor Colonel Joe Duckworth took one of the trainers out, and flew it straight into the eye of the storm. After he returned safely with Ralph O'Hair, the base's weather officer, Lt. William Jones-Burdick, took over the navigator's seat and Duckworth flew into the storm a second time.

This flight showed that hurricane reconnaissance flights were possible, and further flights continued on an irregular basis. In 1946, the moniker "Hurricane Hunters" was first used, and the Air Force and now Air Force Reserve have used it ever since.

Swan 38

In 1974, a newly converted WC-130 (serial number 65-0965) was transferred to the 54th Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, the "Typhoon Chasers", at Andersen Air Force Base.

Typhoon Bess was the twenty-third tropical storm and the ninth typhoon of the 1974 Pacific typhoon season. Though the storm was only a Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale typhoon at its peak, it managed to cause $9.8 million dollars worth of damage, enough to merit the name's retirement. The crew departed Clark Air Base when radio contact with the aircraft was lost on 12 October 1974, apparently as the aircraft was heading into the typhoon's eye to make a second position fix. There were no radio transmissions indicating an emergency on board, and search teams could not locate the aircraft or its crew. All six crew members were listed as KIA -Killed in action. Swan 38 is one of very few of Hurricane Hunter flights lost, and the only WC-130 lost in a storm.
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Quoting Weather456:
Tropical update


Good Job 456! Thats why your one of the best on this blog!
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Quoting SevereHurricane:


Interesting,
According to that I have a 3/5 chance of getting hit this year.


Thats pretty good odds.Less than 1/5 here.
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I am beginning to think we might see a surface Low try to devleop in time in the BOC!
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Interesting Cotillion thanks. I had no idea thats how it started. And surprise hurricanes are just no fun either. :)
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Quoting homelesswanderer:


I agree. Alot of near misses to my area on that list. Just seems like once they started coming here they just won't stop. I could handle another 2006.


Interesting,
According to that I have a 3/5 chance of getting hit this year.
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Tropical update
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
Stolen FEMA car recovered in South Daytona
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Quoting moonlightcowboy:

I'm sure you could! :) And, I have no idea about that bet, but it'd be fun reading! Thanks.

Have a good day!


Wiki says: (Yes I know it's Wiki, but)

"The 1943 Surprise Hurricane, which struck Houston, Texas during World War II, marked the first intentional meteorological flight into a hurricane. It started with a bet.

That summer, British pilots were being trained in instrument flying at Bryan Field. When they saw that the Americans were evacuating their AT-6 Texan trainers in the face of the storm, they began questioning the construction of the aircraft. Lead instructor Colonel Joe Duckworth took one of the trainers out, and flew it straight into the eye of the storm. After he returned safely with navigator Lt. Ralph O'Hair, the base's weather officer, Lt. William Jones-Burdick, took over the navigator's seat and Duckworth flew into the storm a second time.

This flight showed that hurricane reconnaissance flights were possible, and further flights continued on an irregular basis. In 1946, the moniker “Hurricane Hunters” was first used, and the Air Force and now Air Force Reserve have used it ever since."

Have a good day yourself!

Now dwarfing the tragic news of the ditched Airbus, is the news that there's a plan for a move to dissolve Parliament. British elections *could* be coming very soon... Very interesting.
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Quoting crownwx:
Found the analog years very interesting. Going through each of the analog years finds that either a Tropical Storm or Hurricane did make landfall on the US:

1959: Gracie in South Carolina
1960: Donna, from SW Florida all the way to New England. Ethel, into Mississippi.
1965: Betsy, south Florida and Louisiana.
2001: Allison, Barry and Gabrielle.
2002: Lili into Louisiana.

So, I'm definitely not keying in on those slightly reduced numbers, but instead on the fact that all of the analog years had some type of landfalling storm on the US.




I agree. Alot of near misses to my area on that list. Just seems like once they started coming here they just won't stop. I could handle another 2006.
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Quoting Cotillion:


(And didn't the HHs start on a bet between American and British servicemen?) So if push came to shove, we probably could.

I'm sure you could! :) And, I have no idea about that bet, but it'd be fun reading! Thanks.

Have a good day!
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Quoting moonlightcowboy:
LOL. No disrespect, Cotillion. Just trying to generate a lil chuckle.

...but, wow, 92L is like at 45n!!! Much closer to you guys than anything tropical. Pretty weird!

Does the UK have anything similar to our HHs?


No worries. A li'l chuckle was indeed generated. :)

I know, the maps even show us. Things of a tropical nature do track by us on occasion (Faith and Debbie come to mind) but very rare cyclogenesis of even a subtropical nature is up here.

Vince was a once in 150 years event. (1843? A cyclone was tracked by Madeira if I recall correctly. In that century anyway.)

We don't have any HHs or anything like that, no. We've enough aircraft though (And didn't the HHs start on a bet between American and British servicemen?) So if push came to shove, we probably could.
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LOL. No disrespect, Cotillion. Just trying to generate a lil chuckle.

...but, wow, 92L is like at 45n!!! Much closer to you guys than anything tropical. Pretty weird!

Does the UK have anything similar to our HHs?
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Quoting moonlightcowboy:
92L invest reconnaissance requirements

WEATHER RECONNAISSANCE FLIGHTS
Heathrow International Airport
(Adhoc) UK HURRICANE CENTER, London Borough, England.
0930 AM EDT TUE 02 JUNE 2009
SUBJECT: 92L INVEST PLAN OF THE DAY (DW=dressing warmly)
VALID 03/1100Z TO 04/1100Z JUNE 2009
UKPOD NUMBER.....09-005



RAF Hurricane Hunters board the bus to the tarmac.



Haha! Fantastic.

It's actually up to 80F today though... nice and warm.
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92L invest reconnaissance requirements

WEATHER RECONNAISSANCE FLIGHTS
Heathrow International Airport
(Adhoc) UK HURRICANE CENTER, London Borough, England.
0930 AM EDT TUE 02 JUNE 2009
SUBJECT: 92L INVEST PLAN OF THE DAY (DW=dressing warmly)
VALID 03/1100Z TO 04/1100Z JUNE 2009
UKPOD NUMBER.....09-005



RAF Hurricane Hunters board the bus to the tarmac.

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-- EMC Cyclogenesis Tracking Page --

Model Cycle: 2009060206



06 Z NAM ,..show's the same ,earlier IKE
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Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:


That forecast is not from NHC but from CSU. NHC does not make landfall predictions.


Thanks. My Bad. I changed it. :)
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Found the analog years very interesting. Going through each of the analog years finds that either a Tropical Storm or Hurricane did make landfall on the US:

1959: Gracie in South Carolina
1960: Donna, from SW Florida all the way to New England. Ethel, into Mississippi.
1965: Betsy, south Florida and Louisiana.
2001: Allison, Barry and Gabrielle.
2002: Lili into Louisiana.

So, I'm definitely not keying in on those slightly reduced numbers, but instead on the fact that all of the analog years had some type of landfalling storm on the US.


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812. IKE
It may non be tropical, but....

12Z NAM @ 60 hours....

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Quoting Chicklit:
ohhh...so sad that Air Bus...
shear is as high as 50 now in the Gulf but predicted to drop Link


I hope they do find it so they can find out what caused this and hopefully prevent another tragedy like this again. RIP
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Quoting homelesswanderer:
According to the NHC my area
Region 2
Probability of 1 or more named storms 17.4%
Probability of 1 or more hurricanes 8.8%
probability of 1 or more intense hurricane 2.8%

Climatology Orange Co.
named storm 1.4%

LOL. If you say so. Wonder what the odds were last year? And 2007 and 2005? Rolls eyes.


That forecast is not from NHC but from CSU. NHC does not make landfall predictions.
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ohhh...so sad that Air Bus...
shear is as high as 50 now in the Gulf but predicted to drop Link
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806. IKE
12Z NAM at 48 hours...

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According to the CSU my area
Region 2
Probability of 1 or more named storms 17.4%
Probability of 1 or more hurricanes 8.8%
probability of 1 or more intense hurricane 2.8%

Climatology Orange Co.
named storm 1.4%

LOL. If you say so. Wonder what the odds were last year? And 2007 and 2005? Rolls eyes.
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Brazilian aircraft searching for an Air France jet which went missing with 228 people aboard in an Atlantic storm have spotted debris on the ocean.

A plane seat and other items were sighted 650km (400 miles) north-east of Brazil's Fernando de Noronha island, the Brazilian air force said.
It could not be immediately confirmed that the debris came from the Airbus.

The jet was heading from Brazil to Paris when it vanished about four hours into its flight, early on Monday...

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/8079122.stm

(Dwarfed here by news that our Home Secretary is resigning.)
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CNN just reported they have found plane debris in the Atlantic.
Member Since: April 26, 2009 Posts: 3 Comments: 3667
Quoting IKE:


A few breezy rain showers?

Here's a PWS in Niceville,FL. They had 1.27 inches of rain on Friday, May 22nd.

They had 1.70 inches of rain on Saturday, May 23rd.


IKE you should know we can get 3 inches of rain in 15 minutes sometimes with typical morning showers that come in off the GOM. My point was this was in no way a tropical storm! Yes there were showers most of the day Saturday but I've seen worse cold fronts! Sunday and Monday turned out beautiful on the beach!
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haha! gotcha JEff
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6/1/09


6/1/08
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Quoting SomeRandomTexan:
no trolls this morning...I think he means that if everything stays slow a troll could appear in the next 30 days

Exactly. Hence the watch instead of the warning.
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GOM IR Loop
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Quoting IKE:


Yup. I just don't care if there are 8 storms or 28 storms. It's where they go that matters to me.

Just a personal opinion.

Thanks 4 the NFO.


Absolutely. 1992 can't be repeated enough. And that's hardly a standout exception, either.
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D'OH
DAYTONA BEACH -- A Federal Emergency Management Agency worker assessing damages in a flood-affected neighborhood had his rental car stolen Monday morning after he left the keys inside and the vehicle running, police said.

Yeah, when others are name dropping they survived [Insert your TC disaster here], these residents (and their lost FEMA records) say "90L".
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795. IKE
Quoting Cotillion:


Let's see how they've done in June:

2008: 15-8-4 - real total of 16-8-5.
2007: 17-9-5 - real total of 15-6-2.
2006: 17-9-5 - real total of 10-5-2.
2005: 15-8-4 - real total of 28-15-7.
2004: 14-8-3 - real total of 15-9-6.
2003: 14-8-3 - real total of 16-7-3.
2002: 11-6-2 - real total of 12-4-2.
2001: 12-7-3 - real total of 15-9-4.
2000: 12-8-4 - real total of 14-8-3.
1999: 14-9-4 - real total of 12-8-5.

'Course, with 2005 nobody could of predicted that with any real certainty. They horribly dropped the ball in '06 but the rest haven't been *too* far out.

But yes, any forecasts after June is just cheating!



Yup. I just don't care if there are 8 storms or 28 storms. It's where they go that matters to me.

Just a personal opinion.

Thanks 4 the NFO.
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no trolls this morning...I think he means that if everything stays slow a troll could appear in the next 30 days
Member Since: August 30, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1857

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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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