July hurricane outlook

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 7:26 PM GMT on July 02, 2009

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Atlantic tropical cyclone activity typically picks up a bit during the first half of July. Since the current active hurricane period began in 1995, seven of 14 years (50%) have had a named storm form during the first half of July. The busiest first half of July occurred in 2005, when three hurricanes formed. These included Hurricane Dennis and Hurricane Emily--the strongest hurricanes ever observed so early in the season. As seen in Figure 1, most of the early July activity occurs in the Gulf of Mexico, Western Caribbean, and Carolina waters. However, a few long-track "Cape Verdes" hurricanes begin to occur. These are spawned by tropical waves that come off the coast of Africa. Tropical waves serve as the instigators of about 85% of all major hurricanes. Last year's Hurricane Bertha was one such rare early July Cape Verdes hurricane. Bertha's 120 mph winds made it the sixth strongest early-season Atlantic hurricane on record. Bertha also set the record for farthest east formation as a tropical storm, hurricane, and major hurricane, so early in the season.


Figure 1. Tracks of all tropical storms and hurricanes 1851 - 2006 that formed July 1-15. North Carolina and the Gulf of Mexico coast from the Florida Panhandle to Texas are the preferred strike locations. Oddly, the Florida Peninsula has been struck by only two storms that formed in the first half of July.

Sea Surface Temperatures
Sea Surface Temperatures (SST) anomalies have warmed slightly over the past two weeks, but are close to average over the tropical Atlantic between Africa and Central America (Figure 2). These are the are the coolest SST anomalies we've seen since 1994. The strength of the Azores-Bermuda high has been near average over the past two weeks, driving near-average trade winds. Stronger-than-average trade winds were observed through most of the period November 2008 - May 2009, which helped cool the tropical Atlantic substantially. Strong winds mix up colder water from the depths and cause greater evaporative cooling. The latest 2-week run of the GFS model predicts continued average-strength trade winds through mid-July, so SSTs should remain near average during this period.

Typically, July tropical storms form over the Gulf of Mexico, Western Caribbean, and Gulf Stream waters just offshore Florida. SSTs are about 1.0°C above average for this time of year in the Gulf of Mexico, but near average elsewhere. July 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. There will be one or two fronts moving off the U.S. coast over the next two weeks, and we will need to watch these for development. Wind shear is too high and SSTs are usually too cold in July to allow African tropical waves to develop into tropical storms. African tropical waves serve as the instigators of about 85% of all major hurricanes,

Figure 2. Sea Surface Temperature (SST) departure from average for July 2, 2009. SSTs were near average over the tropical Atlantic's Main Development region for hurricanes, from Africa to Central America between 10° and 20° North Latitude. Note the large region of above average SSTs along the Equatorial Pacific off the coast of South America, the hallmark of a developing El Niño episode. Image credit: NOAA/NESDIS

El Niño
El Niño conditions continue to amplify over the tropical Eastern Pacific. Ocean temperatures there rose 0.5°C over the past two weeks, and are now 0.45°C above the threshold for El Niño, according to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (Figure 3). NOAA's Climate Prediction Center issued an El Niño Watch in early June, saying "that conditions are favorable for a transition from neutral to El Niño conditions during June - August 2009". The pattern of changes in surface winds, upper-level winds, sea surface temperatures, and deeper water heat content are all consistent with what has been observed during previous developing El Niños, and latest set of mid-June runs of the El Niño computer models are almost universally calling for El Niño conditions to become well-established for the peak months of hurricane season, August - October. It is likely that Atlantic hurricane activity will be suppressed in 2009 due to the strong upper-level winds and resulting wind shear an El Niño event usually brings to the tropical Atlantic.


Figure 3. Sea Surface Temperature (SST) departure from average for the the equatorial Eastern Pacific (the area 5°N - 5°S, 120°W - 170°W, also called the "Niña 3.4 region"). El Niño conditions exist when the SST in this region rises 0.5°C above average. As of June 28, 2009, SSTs in the Niño 3.4 region had risen to 0.95°C above average. To be considered an "El Niño episode", El Niño conditions must occur for five consecutive months, using 3-month averages. Image credit: Australian Bureau of Meteorology.

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 July 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 two months 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 often leaves a "hole" of low shear between the two branches off the coast of North Carolina, which is where Tropical Depression One formed at the end of May.

The jet stream is forecast (Figure 4) to maintain this two-branch pattern over the coming two weeks. This means that the waters offshore of the Carolinas are the most likely place for a tropical storm to form during this period.


Figure 4. Wind shear in m/s between 200 mb and 850 mb, as forecast by the 06Z July 02, 2009 run of the GFS model. The position and strength of the subtropical jet stream is forecast to change little over the next two weeks, and this jet will bring high wind shear to the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico into mid-July. There will at times be a region of low shear between the polar jet (northern set of arrows on the plots) and the subtropical jet, allowing for possible tropical development off the coast of North Carolina. 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
June and July are the peak months for dust coming off the coast of Africa, and the Saharan dust storms have been quite active over the past month. Expect dust from Africa to be a major deterrent to any storms that try to form between Africa and the Lesser Antilles Islands in July.

Steering currents
The steering current pattern over the past few weeks has not changed much, and is typical for June and July. We have 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 July pattern, bringing many troughs of low pressure off the East Coast capable of recurving any July 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 50% chance of a named storm occurring in the first half of July. Given that none of the computer models are forecasting tropical storm formation in the coming seven days, and SST and wind shear patterns look pretty average, I'll go with a 20% chance of a named storm forming during the first half of July.

Vote for Mike Theiss as an Antarctica blogger
Extreme weather photographer Mike Theiss, who wrote our Ultimate Chase photography blog for two years until a new job took him to South America, wants your help. He's entering a Quark Expeditions competition to receive an expense-paid 2-week trip to Antarctica, where he will do some intensive photography and blogging. In order to go, he needs the votes to show that he's a popular blogger. So, if you liked his posts while he was blogging for wunderground, and want to see him blog for wunderground during this potential Antarctica voyage, go to http://www.blogyourwaytoantarctica.com/blogs/view /220 and cast a vote. It takes about 3 minutes navigate through the registration and voting process. Mike will be back chasing hurricanes this August, and has promised to post his excellent storm photos on wunderground should we help him secure the Antarctica gig.

Have a great holiday weekend, and I'll be back Monday with a new post.

Jeff Masters

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1347. hahaguy
Quoting presslord:
Going to Mass @ 6P...then fireworks at the beach...might be some alcohol involved in the mix...


Don't let anyone peer pressure you into drinking LOL.
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On a side note...report Steve McNair was shot to death. He was a underated QB in the NFL. Sad.
Member Since: May 20, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 1640
Going to Mass @ 6P...then fireworks at the beach...might be some alcohol involved in the mix...
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1344. Makoto1
We're getting some rain up here today, nothing heavy, just some showers, probably won't stop us from grilling.

Yes, a tiny grill with brats on it. we're so midwestern... lol


Now for the tropics... 94L, 94E. I don't feel good about 94L only due to the wind shear, but 94E seems to be coming together nicely under low shear and very warm SST's... I think this could be our next named storm.
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The rain actually keeps skirting around my house but seems like it has been thundering for over 4 hours.
Member Since: May 20, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 1640
Quoting Patrap:
#1330

Bull Sharks are nasty critters..


We have a lot of them here along Crystal Beach in Southeast Texas... they even come up into the inland Lake Sabine. I'm sure you guys have them there as well PAT... they are fun to catch if your into fishing.
Member Since: August 30, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1857
1341. hahaguy
Quoting presslord:
What is this "rain" of which you speak?!

I think it's drops of what that ruins peoples day, but what do I know LOL. Good thing I got a covering over my smoker.
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What is this "rain" of which you speak?!
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1339. hahaguy
Figures we can't even get through today without rain.
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Pat...Are you behaving today?
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Hey patrap, it has been thundering here all day long. We are sitting at 80 degrees. Amazing. Looks like it is all staying in eastern MS.
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1336. Patrap
#1330

Bull Sharks are nasty critters..
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129093
Just assume that's what I always want to talk about...
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Quoting presslord:


Deal! Can we talk about women now?!?!?!

Well shoot, if that is what you want to talk about why didnt you say so earlier?
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1333. IKE
invest 94 in the east-Pac.
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Quoting HaboobsRsweet:

I was just referring to the 1kt of difference. I agreed with most of your comments in regards to the sea. I just said that naming a storm makes all more aware. You are absolutly correct that most mariners know as much if not more about weather than even some on this blog.


Deal! Can we talk about women now?!?!?!
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10492
Quoting presslord:


well...while I've done neither...I do have over 10,000 blue water miles under my belt...so...actually...I DO understand....

I was just referring to the 1kt of difference. I agreed with most of your comments in regards to the sea. I just said that naming a storm makes all more aware. You are absolutly correct that most mariners know as much if not more about weather than even some on this blog.
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1330. rxse7en
Patrap, thought of you when I saw this:

http://www.wafb.com/Global/story.asp?S=10635603
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Quoting HaboobsRsweet:

Work at an airport or join the military and you may understand.


well...while I've done neither...I do have over 10,000 blue water miles under my belt...so...actually...I DO understand....
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10492
Any way, looks like another 7-10 days of nothing. I dont see anything forming until at least the end of July. The current pattern is just not favorable for formation. Yes we have high SST but that is about it.
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Just dropping by to say Happy 4th to everyone!
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Quoting presslord:
I am not appreciably more afraid of a 46 kt wind than a 44 kt wind...

Work at an airport or join the military and you may understand.
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Quoting presslord:


Any offshore mariner should have a deep knowledge of any weather systems likely to be encountered...way beyond what labels a system mayor may not carry...

Totally agree...however all information helps and when a Meteorologist does not do their part, accidents happen and that is just the truth of the matter.
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I am not appreciably more afraid of a 46 kt wind than a 44 kt wind...
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Quoting HaboobsRsweet:
hunkerdown is missing the point. TD and TSs are labeled as such based on wind speeds. A hurricane is a hurricane but the cat is defined by winds. If they dont label it then the gale warning may not be out because they do not think there are 45kt winds out there. Also a straight line wind has a diffent effect on the wave heights and sea state than a deep low that accomanies a TD or TS or worse a hurricane.


Any offshore mariner should have a deep knowledge of any weather systems likely to be encountered...way beyond what labels a system mayor may not carry...
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Quoting hunkerdown:
Please READ all posts carefully, the argument here is over the NHC naming or not naming a storm and mariners sailing blind because they are dumb, not whether ANY weather conditions existed.

It is apparenet that you have never forecasted for aviation or sea assests before or in a region that is data sparse.
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Quoting HaboobsRsweet:
hunkerdown is missing the point. TD and TSs are labeled as such based on wind speeds. A hurricane is a hurricane but the cat is defined by winds. If they dont label it then the gale warning may not be out because they do not think there are 45kt winds out there. Also a straight line wind has a diffent effect on the wave heights and sea state than a deep low that accomanies a TD or TS or worse a hurricane.
Happy sailing, and good luck.
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Quoting hunkerdown:
Please, get it right, a "smart" a$$ :)


...as yu wish...
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Quoting presslord:
...futhermore...while hunkerdown is clearly an ass..

...he does make a valid point...
Please, get it right, a "smart" a$$ :)
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hunkerdown is missing the point. TD and TSs are labeled as such based on wind speeds. A hurricane is a hurricane but the cat is defined by winds. If they dont label it then the gale warning may not be out because they do not think there are 45kt winds out there. Also a straight line wind has a diffent effect on the wave heights and sea state than a deep low that accompanies a TD or TS or worse a hurricane.
Member Since: May 20, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 1640
Quoting HaboobsRsweet:


While I agree there is data out there what about accuracy? 5-10kts is the criteria. Just like flying. For example, lets say your criteria is a 20kt crosswind for take off or landing. If you have 19kts you are going to go. If you have 21kts you arent. Out in the ocean same thing applies to sea states and wave heights. You going to trust just a couple of data plots over thousands of miles of water? You going to trust a derivation to get you within a foot?
Please READ all posts carefully, the argument here is over the NHC naming or not naming a storm and mariners sailing blind because they are dumb, not whether ANY weather conditions existed.
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...futhermore...while hunkerdown is clearly an ass..

...he does make a valid point...
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...and that applies to navigation, propulsion, and a number of other areas...as well as meteorology...
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Quoting HaboobsRsweet:


While they should know what the weather conditions are, if it is not named then forecasters are not saying it has 40-45kt winds. remember out in the middle of the water there are no observations other than what a few ships report. it isnt like you are in a phone calls reach of an update or can look upstream and see what those stations are reporting.

A lot of ships blindly get into bad weather situations due to lack fo data and poor forecasting. If a system is named they know to stay away. If not then they probably think it hasnt met no go criteria and it is ok to pass through.

You ignorant people need tp grow up. It is not the fault of the NHC for a "captain's" ignorance or stupidity. And if the systen had winds at 40-45, even if it was not named there would be gale warnings, or the like.

Please children, grow up - or - think before you type.
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Quoting atmoaggie:


But if an XM subscription costs $50/month and with it you get data overlaid on a chart plotter there is no excuse. I happen to know that the XM suscribers get a surface wind analysis updated hourly that has the multiplatform satellite obs blended in for anything labeled invest or better (worse?).

Example of the satellite-derived wind field before blending into the hourly surface analysis.



For any vessel leaving the inland water ways, the cost vs benefit is obvious.


I know something about this...while it is, in fact, another benefit to seafarers...only a fool would put out to sea with his faith vested exclusively in technology...
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Quoting atmoaggie:


But if an XM subscription costs $50/month and with it you get data overlaid on a chart plotter there is no excuse. I happen to know that the XM suscribers get a surface wind analysis updated hourly that has the multiplatform satellite obs blended in for anything labeled invest or better (worse?).

Example of the satellite-derived wind field before blending into the hourly surface analysis.



For any vessel leaving the inland water ways, the cost vs benefit is obvious.


While I agree there is data out there what about accuracy? 5-10kts is the criteria. Just like flying. For example, lets say your criteria is a 20kt crosswind for take off or landing. If you have 19kts you are going to go. If you have 21kts you arent. Out in the ocean same thing applies to sea states and wave heights. You going to trust just a couple of data plots over thousands of miles of water? You going to trust a derivation to get you within a foot?
Member Since: May 20, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 1640
Quoting SSideBrac:
Whilst I admire this site, and most of the bloggers, immensely - I do wish that some bloggers would cease from apparently "wishing for a Hurricane!!

Living throughy and recovering from (and many of u know this)is a frightening, humbling, exhausting and expensive process - it is not a "wanabee adventure" by any means.

So for me personally - and I am sure I echo the thoughts of many people in the Caribbean - I do not care a whit if it is a boring, quiet season - I would prefer it that way.

I would hate to live my live based on the remoted, vicarious thrills of "that looks dramatic, that looks exciting - wish I was there" - it is dramatic, it is exciting,but trust me once tasted always hoping it never happens again.

Meanwhile - a big TY for the clinical, unemotive bloggers. :-)
I agree with you 200% especially since we have both been through 2 very traumatic hurricanes and I can live without another one.
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Quoting HaboobsRsweet:


While they should know what the weather conditions are, if it is not named then forecasters are not saying it has 40-45kt winds. remember out in the middle of the water there are no observations other than what a few ships report. it isnt like you are in a phone calls reach of an update or can look upstream and see what those stations are reporting.

A lot of ships blindly get into bad weather situations due to lack fo data and poor forecasting. If a system is named they know to stay away. If not then they probably think it hasnt met no go criteria and it is ok to pass through.


But if an XM subscription costs $50/month and with it you get data overlaid on a chart plotter there is no excuse. I happen to know that the XM suscribers get a surface wind analysis updated hourly that has the multiplatform satellite obs blended in for anything labeled invest or better (worse?).

Example of the satellite-derived wind field before blending into the hourly surface analysis.



For any vessel leaving the inland water ways, the cost vs benefit is obvious.
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Quoting HaboobsRsweet:
speaking of poor forecasting...every forecast of my area said clear skies and sunny today. All we have had it overcast skies, thunder since noon and isolated Tstorms all around us. I call that a major miss. Someone is stuck doing a forecast review haha.

Oh yea and said the high is suppose to be upper 90s and we are sitting at 80 haha. I love it.
Member Since: May 20, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 1640
speaking of poor forecasting...every forecast of my area said clear skies and sunny today. All we have had it overcast skies, thunder since noon and isolated Tstorms all around us. I call that a major miss. Someone is stuck doing a forecast review haha.
Member Since: May 20, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 1640
1307. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting wunderkidcayman:
good day guys what did I miss
94L had some convection over its centre but has since been blown away by shear thats about it
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1306. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
thanks pat i though it was north

sad that one died and so many hurt
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Quoting hunkerdown:
I am sorry but that has got to be the dumbest statement you have posted. If a "captain" takes its vessel out of port (or off the trailer), whether it be commercial or recreational, he/she should be aware of the weather conditions and the potential weather conditions. Whether the NHC names a storm or not does and, and should not, have any effect on said captain or its vessel.

Whether a storm is named or not, what is the difference between a depression, or unnamed storm with winds of 35-40 or a storm that is named with winds of 35-40.

Some people on here are extremely arrogant in that they think a name makes a difference. They are way too quick to judge the folks at the NHC on the issuing of a name. Get over it, all of you.


While they should know what the weather conditions are, if it is not named then forecasters are not saying it has 40-45kt winds. remember out in the middle of the water there are no observations other than what a few ships report. it isnt like you are in a phone calls reach of an update or can look upstream and see what those stations are reporting.

A lot of ships blindly get into bad weather situations due to lack fo data and poor forecasting. If a system is named they know to stay away. If not then they probably think it hasnt met no go criteria and it is ok to pass through.
Member Since: May 20, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 1640
good day guys what did I miss
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Quoting Dar9895:

???


He was having fun
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1302. Patrap
Press Lives near Johns Island S.Carolina.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129093
1301. IKE
Quoting Dar9895:
Most models develop an area in the coast of the U.S in the 3 - 4 days from now.


12Z ECMWF shows what appears to be baroclinic lows emerging off of the SE coast and heading out-to-sea. Don't really see anything tropical in the Atlantic through July 14th, on this run.
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1300. Dar9895
Quoting fsumet:
2004 SST anomalies compared to 2009 (Look at central and eastern Pacific):

July 3rd, 2004


July 2nd, 2009


So 2009 is not 2004. Also, those other bad years that were listed (1983, 1992, 2002) had an ACE of 75 or less which is below normal. Overall, this year will be a low ACE year due to a moderate to strong El Nino. That doesn't mean we won't have 12 storms, but most will be weak. Also doesn't mean we won't have one strong one that hits the U.S. or Caribbean, just means that this year will not be above normal.
Quoting fsumet:
2004 SST anomalies compared to 2009 (Look at central and eastern Pacific):

July 3rd, 2004


July 2nd, 2009


So 2009 is not 2004. Also, those other bad years that were listed (1983, 1992, 2002) had an ACE of 75 or less which is below normal. Overall, this year will be a low ACE year due to a moderate to strong El Nino. That doesn't mean we won't have 12 storms, but most will be weak. Also doesn't mean we won't have one strong one that hits the U.S. or Caribbean, just means that this year will not be above normal.

I think it is a weak to a moderate el nino and in this el nino event there will be at least 1-2 landfall strong hurricane in the bassin but perhaps not active as 2004 but similar 2002 and 2006.
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1299. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
isn't that where press is pat
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1298. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
i guess it would be safe to say that the fireworks have been canel there pat
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1297. Dar9895
Most models develop an area in the coast of the U.S in the 3 - 4 days from now.
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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.