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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Quoting TampaSpin:
Things in the Tropics are starting to get interesting in about 4 days in the Caribbean and just East of the Caribbean.

The Caribbean has 2 items of interest. First a strong wave is located at 12N 62W ! It is currently under some strong 30-40kt shear but, forecast to move into better condition with about 15-20kts of shear. So this needs to be monitored. The Shear forecast shows the Caribbean to be better in some parts and worse in others for Tropical Development. The extreme NW Caribbean has low Shear, the Central will have 20-30kt, while the Eastern Caribbean is forecast for lower Shear also. The 2nd item in the Caribbean is an ULL to MidLevel Low in the NW Caribbean located at 18N 85W. This showing some signs of trying to possibly make it to the surface as it moves into the GOM. This needs to be watched very closely.

MY FAVORITE LOOP TO SEE EVERYTHING!

Click to loop..


Current Shear


Shear Forecast 3 days out click to loop....



That wave looks like a swooping bird or a jet
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15940
Even though history shows that the Atlantic should start to fire things up, I would lean towards late July this year for the waves to pick up. I think the area to watch is near and around the Yuc. That ridge seems to have finally pulled out, the GOM is hotter than ever, it wont take much for something to form up.
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we had some tornado warnings out in the evening yesterday for southern MS. Looks like we got a chance to get some good Tstorms again today. Lots of early heating can lead to some interesting cells to track. I hope we get wet again today. The grass is turning green again and growing. Actually have to cut the grass today.
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That wave is going to fall apart. Conditions just are not right for it at the moment. We can hold out hope that it survives to make it to more favorable conditions but I think we have done that 3 or 4 times this year and everything has fallen apart. Just looking at the sypotic picture, I dont see how it can survive. Something drastic is going to have to change.
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Thanks for that link Tim , very cool.
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That's interesting amd.
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Excellent loop Tampa, that wave is really hanging in there. Thanks for sharing
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689. amd
Hi all,

I had a chance to read the El Nino paper published in Science today

Link

And, it does differentiate between different el nino events. For instance, el nino events which originate and propogate in the central pacific (called CPW) are associated with more storms, hurricanes, and major hurricanes, than it's more well-known eastern pacific version (called EPW).

The paper explains that our current form of predicting el-nino may not be good enough. For more accurate predictions on hurricane season, we will need to know if the warming is occuring in the central or eastern pacific.

Also, CPW conditions are associated with more threats to Florida and the East Coast compared to EPW conditions.

Two important things to note:
1. 2004 and 2002 hurricane seasons, were CPW seasons, which could have lead to an increased level of hurricanes, even though these seasons were technically El-Nino seasons. The 1997 hurricane season was a classic EPW season, which lead to much decreased activity.

2. CPW seasons tend to start late, even later than EPW seasons. So, for those who think that the slow season so far portends a quiet Atlantic season, that may not be the case at all.

2002 and 2004 did not have its first storm until the end of july, while in 1997, the 4th storm formed in the middle of july (hurricane danny).
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Hey, StormW, if you are on, what are your thoughts on the wave in the eastern caribbean?
Member Since: June 29, 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 5313
DDR, heavy rain in Tobago here now. since 5:00 am, intermittent.
Strong gusts, squally conditions.
Word from central Trinidad, heavy rain.
About time too.......
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They have a good chance for a storm to form in the EPAC, not much in the ATL
Member Since: June 29, 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 5313
Quoting Navy/NRL Tropical Cyclone Page
NOTE: Where, oh where, might the next Invest begin?

Don't worry NAVY, maybe soon!
Member Since: June 29, 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 5313
684. DDR
Rains are here...
in Trinidad
Type 'piarco' in the search box for our current conditions.
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Quoting bappit:
I second 678, takes a bit to download for me but panoramic and fairly high rez. Thanks!


You all are welcome....its one of the first things i look at.....It really shows alot of detail that many can't see!
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Quoting leftovers:
thanks for the reports in the windwards. rainfall totals?


From yesterday's TROPICAL DISCUSSION - INTERNATIONAL DESKS

THE RAPID NATURE OF THIS WAVE WILL LIKELY FAVOR SQUALLY WEATHER OVER THE LESSER ANTILLES VIRGIN ISLES AND PUERTO RICO. SEVERE CONVECTION IS PROBABLE... HIGHEST RISK ON DAY 02 WHEN THE WAVE IS EXPECTED TO ACCELERATE. OVER NORTHERN GUYANA-NORTHEAST VENEZUELA AND THE WINDWARD ISLES IT WILL FAVOR RAINFALL AMOUNTS OF 10-20MM/DAY AND MAXIMA OF 25-50MM BY 30-42 HRS. OVER THE LEEWARD-VIRGIN ISLANDS WE EXPECT ACCUMULATION OF 05-10MM/DAY AND MAXIMA OF 20-35MM...WHILE OVER PUERTO RICO AND THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC IT WILL FAVOR RAINFALL AMOUNTS OF 10-15MM/DAY AND MAXIMA OF 30-60MM. OVER VENEZUELA...IN INTERACTION WITH THE NEAR EQUATORIAL TROUGH...IT WILL FAVOR RAINFALL AMOUNTS OF 10-15MM/DAY AND MAXIMA OF 30 65MM...WITH POSSIBILITY OF AN MCS OVER LAKE MARACAIBO ON DAY 03. OVER SANTANDERES AND SIERRA DE SANTA MARTA IN COLOMBIA THE MAXIMA IS LIKELY TO PEAK AT 40-80MM.
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I second 678, takes a bit to download for me but panoramic and fairly high rez. Thanks!
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I meant Tampaspin. Thanks.
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Radar
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MY FAVORITE LOOP TO SEE EVERYTHING!


That is sweet. Thanks wunderkid.
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The wave will fare better in a favorable environment, but it needs to get fully over water, and get away from South America
Member Since: June 29, 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 5313
Quoting TampaSpin:
Things in the Tropics are starting to get interesting in about 4 days in the Caribbean and just East of the Caribbean.

The Caribbean has 2 items of interest. First a strong wave is located at 12N 62W ! It is currently under some strong 30-40kt shear but, forecast to move into better condition with about 15-20kts of shear. So this needs to be monitored. The Shear forecast shows the Caribbean to be better in some parts and worse in others for Tropical Development. The extreme NW Caribbean has low Shear, the Central will have 20-30kt, while the Eastern Caribbean is forecast for lower Shear also. The 2nd item in the Caribbean is an ULL to MidLevel Low in the NW Caribbean located at 18N 85W. This showing some signs of trying to possibly make it to the surface as it moves into the GOM. This needs to be watched very closely.

MY FAVORITE LOOP TO SEE EVERYTHING!

Click to loop..


Current Shear


Shear Forecast 3 days out click to loop....




Thank you, Tampa. So we do need to watch things in the Caribbean. Shear will become more favorable.....could we finally see Ana?
Member Since: June 29, 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 5313
Quoting TampaSpin:
Things in the Tropics are starting to get interesting in about 4 days in the Caribbean and just East of the Caribbean.

The Caribbean has 2 items of interest. First a strong wave is located at 12N 62W ! It is currently under some strong 30-40kt shear but, forecast to move into better condition with about 15-20kts of shear. So this needs to be monitored. The Shear forecast shows the Caribbean to be better in some parts and worse in others for Tropical Development. The extreme NW Caribbean has low Shear, the Central will have 20-30kt, while the Eastern Caribbean is forecast for lower Shear also. The 2nd item in the Caribbean is an ULL to MidLevel Low in the NW Caribbean located at 18N 85W. This showing some signs of trying to possibly make it to the surface as it moves into the GOM. This needs to be watched very closely.

MY FAVORITE LOOP TO SEE EVERYTHING!

Click to loop..


Current Shear


Shear Forecast 3 days out click to loop....



I like the sound of that TampaSpin I am not so bored now thanks
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I am enjoying all the rain I can get here in South Florida because I know in a month or two it's back to the dry season. And with little to no cnance of anything tropical, keep the rain coming!!!! I will take a dead tropical season like this any year!
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Things in the Tropics are starting to get interesting in about 4 days in the Caribbean and just East of the Caribbean.

The Caribbean has 2 items of interest. First a strong wave is located at 12N 62W ! It is currently under some strong 30-40kt shear but, forecast to move into better condition with about 15-20kts of shear. So this needs to be monitored. The Shear forecast shows the Caribbean to be better in some parts and worse in others for Tropical Development. The extreme NW Caribbean has low Shear, the Central will have 20-30kt, while the Eastern Caribbean is forecast for lower Shear also. The 2nd item in the Caribbean is an ULL to MidLevel Low in the NW Caribbean located at 18N 85W. This showing some signs of trying to possibly make it to the surface as it moves into the GOM. This needs to be watched very closely.

MY FAVORITE LOOP TO SEE EVERYTHING!

Click to loop..


Current Shear


Shear Forecast 3 days out click to loop....


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This is somewhat weather related. Yesterday in Panama City Beach the St. Joe company was conducting the second day of a controlled burn just north of Hwy 98. Everything was going fine until the outflow boundary from a huge approaching t-storm shifted the wind and fanned the flames out of control. Both directions of 98 were closed for over an hour on one of the busiest tourist arrival days of the year. The beach was so covered in smoke and falling ash cars had to turn their lights on. Many are questioning why they would do a controlled burn next to a major highway on such a busy travel day.
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Quoting captainhunter:
668. AllStar17

Lots of shear right now. We'll see.


Yeah, I was just saying keep an eye on it in case it gets in a favorable environment.
Member Since: June 29, 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 5313
668. AllStar17

Lots of shear right now. We'll see.
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Keep an eye on the wave at 60 W if it gets into a more favorable environment. I know yesterday it had a healthy MLC on it.

Member Since: June 29, 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 5313
This occurred on the N. Shore of Lake Pontchartrain yesterday.30 Mile N of New Orleans.

Big Thunderstorm,

VIDEO: High winds from a thunderstorm mar opening of Mandeville Seafood Festival.

Hurricane force Winds.


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Quoting Felix2007:



Lol!!!!!!!!

Anyhow, on topic... this season looks like a fail-cane season.

The Atlantic Failcane season of 2009 will probably have 8-11 named storms, 4-6 hurricanes, and 1-2 major hurricanes. What a fail if only a couple hit land.



I cant tell if your sarcastic or being serious.
If you are being serious, I can tell you for the thousandth time look at 2004. I know it sounds like a broken record but still. If your being sarcastic LOL.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 24189
I wonder if there is a chance that we set a record of no name storms for one full season. Wouldnt that be impressive?
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Regarding our late season cold fronts..
Charley went ino Florida because of a late season cold front.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 24189
Quoting AllStar17:


Tampa...what is the shear forecast for the area??? This morning it looks better than it ever did yesterday. I know it is still being heavily sheared, however.


Just logged in ......i will take a look at everything......BB in a moment.
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Quoting CybrTeddy:
If Hurricanes were named now by the Phoenetic Alphabet the list would be
Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, Echo, Foxtrot, Gulf, Hotel, India, Juliet, Kilo, Lima, Mike, November, Oscar, Pablo, Quebec, Romeo, Serria, Tango, Uniform, Victor, Whiskey, X-Ray, Yankee, Zulu.

It would actually be "Papa" not "Pablo" for P and "Sierra" not "Serria" for S
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Quoting CybrTeddy:
If Hurricanes were named now by the Phoenetic Alphabet the list would be
Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, Echo, Foxtrot, Gulf, Hotel, India, Juliet, Kilo, Lima, Mike, November, Oscar, Pablo, Quebec, Romeo, Serria, Tango, Uniform, Victor, Whiskey, X-Ray, Yankee, Zulu.



Lol!!!!!!!!

Anyhow, on topic... this season looks like a fail-cane season.

The Atlantic Failcane season of 2009 will probably have 8-11 named storms, 4-6 hurricanes, and 1-2 major hurricanes. What a fail if only a couple hit land.
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Quoting Mach80:
Anyone have a link showing the dust storms coming off Africa?

I work as a pilot, and the Caribbean as well as Florida have been very hazy the last couple of weeks. In the past, it's been because of the dust and I'm trying to check it out.

Thanks



SAL
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If Hurricanes were named now by the Phoenetic Alphabet the list would be
Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, Echo, Foxtrot, Gulf, Hotel, India, Juliet, Kilo, Lima, Mike, November, Oscar, Pablo, Quebec, Romeo, Serria, Tango, Uniform, Victor, Whiskey, X-Ray, Yankee, Zulu.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 24189
Quoting TampaSpin:
Strong Wave......



Tampa...what is the shear forecast for the area??? This morning it looks better than it ever did yesterday. I know it is still being heavily sheared, however.
Member Since: June 29, 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 5313
Anyone have a link showing the dust storms coming off Africa?

I work as a pilot, and the Caribbean as well as Florida have been very hazy the last couple of weeks. In the past, it's been because of the dust and I'm trying to check it out.

Thanks
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656. IKE
Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:


In 1953, the United States abandoned a confusing a two-year old plan to name storms by a phonetic alphabet (Able, Baker, Charlie, etc.). That year, this Nation's weather services began using female names for storms. The practice of naming hurricanes solely after women came to an end in 1978 when men's and women's names were included in the Eastern North Pacific storm lists. In 1979, male and female names were included in lists for the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico.


Link


Thanks for the info.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
Quoting IKE:


Who came up with the name Easy? As in Hurricane Easy in 1950?



In 1953, the United States abandoned a confusing a two-year old plan to name storms by a phonetic alphabet (Able, Baker, Charlie, etc.). That year, this Nation's weather services began using female names for storms. The practice of naming hurricanes solely after women came to an end in 1978 when men's and women's names were included in the Eastern North Pacific storm lists. In 1979, male and female names were included in lists for the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico.


Link
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Still getting gusty, squally conditions in Tobago. A heavy shower this morning. Word from Trinidad is heavy rain.
About time, too.
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Quoting IKE:


Who, in their right mind, would name a cat 5....Dog? WTH????????????????


It's like they just looked at something in their home and decided to name it that. I'm looking at my desk at work so I think I'll name one hurricane Desk LMAO.
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Quoting IKE:


Who, in their right mind, would name a cat 5....Dog? WTH????????????????


1950s they shoulda named one hound dog. and i am stalling on my chores
Member Since: April 26, 2006 Posts: 5 Comments: 3208
651. IKE
Quoting hahaguy:


And the names How and Dog. LOL


Who, in their right mind, would name a cat 5....Dog? WTH????????????????

Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
650. IKE
Quoting WxLogic:


Indeed... as 456 stated before... (e.g. 2004 I love to use this year as examples... hehe) it started late and look with what we ended up.


I see a pattern of troughs in the east, cold fronts coming through, so I see the comparison.

I think this is going to be a late start and over by mid-Oct. season.

I belatedly predicted 10-4-2 for totals, a week ago.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:


LOL Opposed to a year like 1950 would really drive up WU page counts.... 11 huricanes, 8 of them major.


Would be kind of scary yet exciting to see over 72% of all the tropical cyclnes developing becoming majors.
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Quoting IKE:


Who came up with the name Easy? As in Hurricane Easy in 1950?



And the names How and Dog. LOL
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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.