Outlook for the remainder of hurricane season

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 1:18 PM GMT on October 15, 2009

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Atlantic tropical cyclone activity finishes its peak phase in mid-October, and takes a major downturn after about October 20 (Figure 1). Since the current active hurricane period began in 1995, the last half of October through the end of hurricane season has given birth to an average of 1.7 named storms, 0.8 hurricanes, and 0.3 intense hurricanes. These numbers are nearly double the long-term climatological averages for the past 100 years. So far this year, only one tropical storm has hit the U.S.--Tropical Storm Claudette. If no more tropical storms make landfall in the U.S., it will be the first year since 1993 to see only one tropical storm hitting the U.S.


Figure 1. Atlantic hurricane season activity over the past 100 years.

Late October and November storms tend to form from tropical waves that come off the coast of Africa, or from the remains of old fronts that push off the coast of the U.S. As we can see from the track plot of all last half of October storms (Figure 2), there is a lot of activity during the period, but relatively few storms form out near the African coast. The water temperatures off the coast of Africa are starting to cool and be marginal for hurricane formation, and the African Monsoon is waning, leading to fewer African waves coming off the coast. Wind shear is also starting to increase, as part of its normal fall cycle.

Climatology of late-season major hurricanes
Let's examine the possibilities of getting a late-season major hurricane, since those are the storms we care most about. Since 1960, there have been twelve hurricanes that have existed as major Category 3 or higher storms after October 15. Eight of these have occurred since 1995: Omar of 2008 (Cat 4, Lesser Antilles), Paloma of 2008 (Cat 4, Cayman Islands and Cuba), Wilma of 2005 (Cat 4, Mexico; Cat 3, SW Florida), Beta of 2005 (Cat 3, Nicaragua), Michelle of 2001 (Cat 4, Cuba), Lenny of 1999 (Cat 4, northern Lesser Antilles), Mitch of 1998 (Cat 5, Honduras), and Lili of 1996 (Bahamas, Category 3). The other four were Joan of 1988 (Cat 4, Nicaragua), Kate of 1985 (Cat 3, Gulf of Mexico), Ella of 1962 (Cat 3, west of Bermuda), and Hattie of 1961 (Cat 4, Belize). Wilma of 2005 was the only major hurricane since 1960 to hit the U.S. after October 15. The highest risk region for late season major hurricanes is the Western Caribbean, along the coasts of Nicaragua, Honduras, Belize, Mexico, and Cuba. So, we can say with high confidence that most of the U.S. coast can relax. Only the west coast of Florida, Florida Keys, and South Florida need to still be concerned about the possibility of a major hurricane. The Lesser Antilles Islands, Puerto Rico, and Hispaniola are also at low risk for a major hurricane the remainder of the season.



Figure 2. Tracks of all tropical storms and hurricanes since 1851 that formed October 16-31.

Sea Surface Temperatures
Sea Surface Temperatures (SSTs) are 0.5 - 1.5°C above average over the Western Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico (Figure 3), the primary formation areas for late October storms. So, there is still plenty of fuel for a major hurricane to form. Note also the tongue of warmer than average SSTs extending out into the Pacific Ocean from the coast of South America, the signature of weak El Niño conditions.


Figure 3. Sea Surface Temperature (SST) departure from average for October 15. Image credit: NOAA.

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 by tearing a storm apart. Wind shear 10 knots and lower is very conducive for tropical storm formation.

The jet stream in mid-October is more active and extends further south, which brings higher levels of wind shear to the Atlantic. The more active jet stream also acts to recurve storms more quickly. Any system penetrating north of about 20 degrees north latitude we can expect to recurve quickly to the north and northeast this late in the season. The most recent 16-day forecast from the GFS model predicts a period of high wind shear over the tropical Atlantic over the next ten days (Figure 4). Beginning on October 25, wind shear is expected to fall again over the Western Caribbean, and we need to be alert for tropical storm formation then. Indeed, the latest run of the GFS model is predicting a large area of surface low pressure will form in the Western Caribbean during the last week of October, an indication that hurricane season may not be over yet.

El Niño
El Niño conditions, which typically bring higher wind shear to the Atlantic and interfere with hurricane formation, continue to be present in the tropical Eastern Pacific. It is probably the case that some of this year's inactivity can be attributed to El Niño. However, as I discussed in a post earlier this year, El Niño events that warm the central Pacific more than the eastern Pacific (called "modiki" El Niño events), tend to bring less wind shear to the Atlantic. In recent weeks, El Niño conditions in the Eastern Pacific have trended more towards a "modiki" type event, with a large amount of warming in the Central Pacific. This shift in the El Niño may bring lower wind shear to the Atlantic over the final month of hurricane season.


Figure 4. Wind shear forecast for October 23, 2009, as produced by the 00 UTC run on October 14, 2009 made by the GFS model. Wind shear below about 8 m/s (roughly 15 knots, red colors) is typically needed to allow tropical storm formation. There aren't too many red-colored areas over the prime breeding grounds for tropical storms in the Atlantic over the next ten days in this forecast.

Summary
Given how quiet the tropics are at present, and the forecast of a high wind shear regime lasting until October 25, I doubt any tropical storms will form over the next ten days. If we do get something, it would probably be in the middle Atlantic between Bermuda and the Azores, far from land. However, I am still wary of the possibility of a hurricane in the Caribbean the last week of October or in November this year. There is evidence that the Atlantic hurricane season is starting earlier and ending later in recent decades. Dr. Jim Kossin of the University of Wisconsin published a paper in 2008 titled, "Is the North Atlantic hurricane season getting longer?" He concluded that yes, there is a "apparent tendency toward more common early- and late-season storms that correlates with warming Sea Surface Temperature but the uncertainty in these relationships is high". We had two major hurricanes in the Caribbean after October 15 last year, and I give a 60% chance that we'll get a named storm in the Caribbean before hurricane season ends on November 30. Hurricane season is not over--it's just in hibernation.

Happy Valley to become Yucky Valley
Winter is fast approaching, and the season's first major snowstorm for the U.S. East Coast is coming this weekend, according to the wunderblog of Wunderground's Dr. Rob Carver. Conditions will be particularly nasty on Saturday in Happy Valley, where Penn State is situated. The surrounding hills may get 4 - 12 inches of snow, and rain mixed with snow with 36°F temperatures are expected for Saturday's Penn State - Minnesota game. Ugh, winter! I'll have a forecast for the coming winter in a post sometime in the next week.

The Senate has not yet voted on the proposal to cut NOAA funding. I will post a report when the vote occurs.

Jeff Masters

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Quoting AwakeInMaryland:

You wouldn't hide? Your parents must be saints! lol But you are absolutely right about basket; of course the parents would know if it was hooked up. OK, now CNN is mentioning the same thing I wrote, maybe kid is scared and hiding.
I'm thinking big bro' double-dared him...
Kids will be kids.


Maybe they triple dog dared him.
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Congrats tornadodude!!! on the job, enjoy!!!
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Quoting tornadodude:


yeah, no joke, I know I wouldnt hide, also, cant they just ask the parents if there was a basket attached in the first place???? gee wiz. either someone saw him get in or they didnt.

You wouldn't hide? Your parents must be saints! lol But you are absolutely right about basket; of course the parents would know if it was hooked up. OK, now CNN is mentioning the same thing I wrote, maybe kid is scared and hiding.
I'm thinking big bro' double-dared him...
Kids will be kids.
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284. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Japan Meteorological Agency
Tropical Cyclone Advisory #10
TROPICAL STORM LUPIT (T0920)
6:00 AM JST October 16 2009
================================

Subject: Category One Typhoon In Sea East Of The Philippines

At 21:00 PM UTC, Tropical Storm Lupit (998 hPa) located at 12.6N 138.4E has 10 minute sustained winds of 35 knots with gusts of 50 knots. The storm is reported as moving west-northwest at 14 knots

RSMC Dvorak Intensity:

Gale-Force Winds
================
140 NM from the center

Forecast and Intensity
=====================
24 HRS: 13.5N 134.2E - 45 kts (CAT 1/Tropical Storm)
45 HRS: 14.7N 132.5E - 55 kts (CAT 2/Severe Tropical Storm)
69 HRS: 15.0N 131.8E - 70 kts (CAT 3/Strong Typhoon)
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283. Skyepony (Mod)
I have spent weeks reading through Emanuel's work.. I have his home page bookmarked.. Never seen where he's published anything as to GW causing more cyclones, only stronger.

ncdc has measured & ranked Stratosphere temps for 31 years, ozone depletion also has had hand in the cooling but effects of aerosols & other forcing factors have been correctly predicted. Others have been tracking it for 100s maybe 1000a of years by observing the sun as it sets..
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282. xcool
take care matt
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15603
Alright, I'm out, I have an Exam to take, catch y'all later
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Quoting AwakeInMaryland:
My kid Damien II (not his real name, shudda been) was a real scamp dare-devil. How many of you -- many of you are young guys -- think the kid jumped out and is hiding in a neighbor's basement scared of some major whoop-arse or being grounded for life? Please God...
Or did the kids actually see him go up? The reports aren't clear. And the gizmo did NOT crash land...that was an amazingly smooth landing. Almost wish the child had been in it.


He was apparently in a box attached to the bottom of the thing. A deputy saw something fall off it an hour into the flight; by all accounts the battery box was not attached very well...police are searching the area wher the deputy saw the object fall
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.
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 24 Comments: 8185
Quoting AwakeInMaryland:
My kid Damien II (not his real name, shudda been) was a real scamp dare-devil. How many of you -- many of you are young guys -- think the kid jumped out and is hiding in a neighbor's basement scared of some major whoop-arse or being grounded for life? Please God...
Or did the kids actually see him go up? The reports aren't clear. And the gizmo did NOT crash land...that was an amazingly smooth landing. Almost wish the child had been in it.


yeah, no joke, I know I probably wouldnt have hiden, also, cant they just ask the parents if there was a basket attached in the first place???? gee wiz. either someone saw him get in or they didnt.
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 24 Comments: 8185
My kid Damien II (not his real name, shudda been) was a real scamp dare-devil. How many of you -- many of you are young guys -- think the kid jumped out and is hiding in a neighbor's basement scared of some major whoop-arse or being grounded for life? Please God...
Or did the kids actually see him go up? The reports aren't clear. And the gizmo did NOT crash land...that was an amazingly smooth landing. Almost wish the child had been in it.
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276. xcool
cooling :)
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Quoting xcool:
lolol ups try eat on way haha


haha sounds good
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274. xcool
lolol ups try eat on way haha
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Quoting xcool:
tornadodude yeah lol


It might be difficult to ship Gumbo lol
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 24 Comments: 8185
From CNN:

Deputy: Object seen falling from balloon
Authorities are searching for a box that was attached to the bottom of an experimental aircraft that took off from a Fort Collins home, CNN affiliate KUSA reported. A Weld County sheriff's deputy says he saw an object fall off the balloon somewhere over Platteville, which is in the search area. developing story
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271. xcool
tornadodude yeah lol
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Quoting xcool:
tornadodude i send too you soon.no lies


haha if youre serious
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Quoting stormwatcherCI:
FORT COLLINS. Colo. - A family's runaway experimental balloon aircraft crash-landed in a field Thursday after floating away from home for about two hours, but there was no sign of a 6-year-old boy authorities thought had been inside.



they believe that there was a basket attached to it now, they have a photo that might show it falling. It's on CNN now
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268. xcool
tornadodude i send too you soon.no lies
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Quoting tornadodude:
so now the news is saying that the boy might have fallen from the balloon, in a basket :(
FORT COLLINS. Colo. - A family's runaway experimental balloon aircraft crash-landed in a field Thursday after floating away from home for about two hours, but there was no sign of a 6-year-old boy authorities thought had been inside.

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Speaking of convenient assumptions. THE SATELITTES MAN,.....THE SATELLITES!!! You "conveniently" failed to address that. SKYLAB fell from the sky early cuz "greater than expected Sun Spot activity" temporarily swelled the atmosphere,..increasing the drag on Skylab,..bringing it down early. NASA,..knows this stuff,...they traced the "decrease in drag (NOW)" to Stratosperic cooling, and contraction, from Climate Change. The models were given a test case opportunity when Mt. Pentubo erupted,..the models accurately predicted the amount of cooling from aerisols blasted into the stratosphere,...and how long it would last.

I cannot tell you exactly what year they used in the temp measurements,...but I'd "assume" it to be the long term established mean. But the Satellite thing?? That's concrete,..real. The Stratosphere HAS COOLED. This discovery also served to "debunk" the made up "junk Science" by the Contrarians,..that Global Warming was due to increased solar output,...NOPE,...if it was from that,..the stratospere would have warmed along with the Troposphere. It didn't. The Troposphere warmed,..the Stratospere cooled,...its in the data record. The only thing that would have caused that, is a relatively constant solar output,...and a greater "insulating effect" (like more insulation in your attic), that would hold heat down low,...and (because of the Conservation of Energy) the upper level cools off. Does the Solar output vary? Yes,..the Climate Change Atribution stuides have accounted for that,..no where near enough to account for the Warming of the Troposphere and Cooling of the Stratospere.

Let's talk about the Satellites and their reduced drag. That's real,...and eliminates the vague stuff about which year's temps were used etc. The Satellites MAN,...the SATELLITES.

Quoting xcool:
tornadodude how about i send some new orlans food.


I could use some Gumbo :)
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264. xcool
tornadodude how about i send some new orlans food.
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15603
Quoting Skyepony:
atmo~ I find it ironic in post 218 you used one of Emanuel's products to make your point.. Climate change aside even, he's been a notable contributor to forecasting.

Heck, yeah. I hope his intensity model efforts pan out and give us better skill at that.

The guy is one of the leading tropical cyclone researchers on the planet, and this isn't the first time I have said that in here, either.

I surely didn't mean to suggest his work is chopped liver. I find his AGW conclusions to be built on too many assumptions we cannot prove, that is all.

BTW: "Climate change aside" sounds wonderful to me.
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Quoting xcool:
matt need a xbox and ps3 in office too.


haha I got so many computers tho :P also if I get an office, they will get me a computer too
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261. xcool
matt need a xbox and ps3 in office too.
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Quoting AwakeInMaryland:

But does the office come with it's own -Casting Couch?

(I kid; I kid; Congratulations, TD M-!)


haha thanks (: I am so excited, like yeah haha
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259. xcool
tornadodude yeah.
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258. xcool
My heart goes out to family ;(((((
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Quoting tornadodude:


(:

Come on, how many freshman get their own office? lol

But does the office come with it's own -Casting Couch?

(I kid; I kid; Congratulations, TD M-!)
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Quoting xcool:
tornadodude yeah lmao


I assume you were referring to my comment about my office, right?
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 24 Comments: 8185
255. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Joint Typhoon Warning Center

Tropical Disturbance Summary (1900z 15OCT)
==========================================

An area of convection (93W) located at 12.4N 113.6E or 420 NM southeast of Hue, Vietnam. Recent animated infrared satellite imagery shows convection forming and wrapping into the low level circulation center. The system is moving westward away from a region of higher vertical winds shear and into a favorable environment with lower vertical wind shear, warm sea surface temperatures, and high ocean heat content. Upper level analysis indicates the system is located just south of the upper level ridge axis with diffluent flow south of the system. A 1211z Quikscat Pass shows unflagged winds of 15-20 knots confirming an increase in the consolidation of the convection around the low level circulation center.

Maximum sustained winds near the center is 12-18 knots with a minimum sea level pressure of 1004 MB. The potential for this disturbance to form into a significant tropical cyclone within the next 24 hours is UPGRADED TO FAIR
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254. Skyepony (Mod)
atmo~ I find it ironic in post 218 you used one of Emanuel's products to make your point.. Climate change aside even, he's been a notable contributor to forecasting.
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253. xcool
tornadodude yeah lmao
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so now the news is saying that the boy might have fallen from the balloon, in a basket :(
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251. Ossqss
9:24 PM GMT on October 15, 2009
Quoting NRAamy:
Ossqss...thank you for the pumpkin idea...but shoreacres won out....I can't resist a hair ball hacked up by a cat...

taken out of context, that could sound really bad.....


I lost to a hairball,,,,,,,gheeze, I guess it could be worse :) L8R
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250. tornadodude
9:23 PM GMT on October 15, 2009
Quoting xcool:
time have a party !!!



haha not yet, the real party will begin if I get my own office
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249. xcool
9:21 PM GMT on October 15, 2009
time have a party !!!
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248. NRAamy
9:21 PM GMT on October 15, 2009
Ossqss...thank you for the pumpkin idea...but shoreacres won out....I can't resist a hair ball hacked up by a cat...

taken out of context, that could sound really bad.....
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247. atmoaggie
9:20 PM GMT on October 15, 2009
Quoting rocketboy105:
What did you think of what Dr. Masters put up today,....12 major storms after the 15th of October,....since 1960, all but 2 were after 1985,...and the majority after 1995. That fits with what I've read about the number of storms not having changed significantly,...but the number of 3s, 4s, and 5s,..has gone up,..and that with more heat stored in the oceans now,...it would make sense that the season would start earlier and last longer.


And how did we determine if a hurricane was a cat 4 or 5 in the 1910s?
Only if some poor and incredibly lucky bastard drove a boat through one and survived long enough to tell us about it.
Otherwise, a cat 3 at landfall in the northern Gulf, with a couple of ship obs hundreds of miles away before landfall, stayed a cat 3 for it's peak.

What I am saying is this; we have seen a lot of storms in our distant records where the peak intensity was that recorded at landfall. Anyone here can tell you, the intensity at landfall is very rarely the peak intensity of a major hurricane (thank goodness for dry air entrainment!) anytime in recent history (Andrew and Camille? Is that it?).

So the bolded part above means nothing at all unless you assume we were capable of observing the peak intensity of hurricanes going back to at least 1900.

To me, the statistics quoted mean we entered our first real active period since the launch of satellites and development of the Dvorak classifications. Nothingmore.

I think Landsea recently published something close to what I am saying here.

Addendum: Plus the date is a huge tip off. I can imagine how, in the era before satellites, a late October CV early-recurving major hurricane would just be classified as an extra-tropical once it got to the shipping lanes. A major hurricane that doesn't even exist in our records. Could have happened.
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246. tornadodude
9:18 PM GMT on October 15, 2009
Quoting xcool:
you will tornadodude ;)


yeah xD
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245. Ossqss
9:17 PM GMT on October 15, 2009
Did they finally go and fix all of the long term data samples that inspired the GW theory? Just curious :)

U.S.
Surface Temperature
Records
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244. xcool
9:15 PM GMT on October 15, 2009
you will tornadodude ;)
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243. atmoaggie
9:11 PM GMT on October 15, 2009
Quoting Skyepony:
1.) Q: Is global warming causing more hurricanes?

A: No.
The global, annual frequency of tropical cyclones (the generic, meteorological term for the storm that is called a tropical storm or hurricane in the Atlantic region) is about 90, plus or minus 10. There is no indication whatsoever of a long-term trend in this number.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I assure you, he had to be convinced of this. Before, he that was the champion of "See, the last 100 years we have had trended towards more tropical storms! AGW increases TSs!"
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242. rocketboy105
9:09 PM GMT on October 15, 2009
What did you think of what Dr. Masters put up today,....12 major storms after the 15th of October,....since 1960, all but 2 were after 1985,...and the majority after 1995. That fits with what I've read about the number of storms not having changed significantly,...but the number of 3s, 4s, and 5s,..has gone up,..and that with more heat stored in the oceans now,...it would make sense that the season would start earlier and last longer.

Quoting atmoaggie:

Honestly, I don't remember exactly what the premise of that one presentation was (I saw dozens that week over 4 days). I do remember that he heavily relied on the last 100 years of TC records to build a barely-there trend in the talk. After which, Landsea busted his chops on it and then Gray took his turn.

Building a set of conclusions about the future based on the last 100 years of TC obs is nonsense given the changes in observation methods over that time period...I have to agree with Landsea on that.
241. atmoaggie
9:08 PM GMT on October 15, 2009
Quoting rocketboy105:
To atmoaggie,..I'm puzzled by your choice of words,...specifically,.."IF" there is stratospheric cooling. In my work as an Engineer, when ever two groups (unknown to each other) measure a phenomenon,...get the same results, and arrive at those same results by two different measurement methods,...that usually means the data is good, and the phenomenon is "genuine". The CO2 models predicted that greater CO2 concentration would cool the Stratosphere; less leakage to space, warmer down low,..cooler up high (First Law of Thermodynamics). There were direct measurements taken of the drop in temp in the Stratophere, -.6 deg C. Later,...NASA Engineers noticed that satellites, "parked at a given altitude orbit" were not experienceing the usual rate of orbit decay,...the cause was traced to lower stratosperic temperature,...resultant increase in air density,..and contraction of the Stratosphere,...which lowered the drag on the satellites,...letting them stay in orbit longer. I'd say,..since we have mutually coroborative(sp?) sets of data,...THE STRATOSPHERE HAS COOLED,...its not "IF",....its "IS".


Yeah? Relative to when?
And how much cooler is it than it was 30, 60, 90, 120, 150, and 180 years ago?
Maybe the stratosphere was anomalously warm when we began to effectively measure it. (When, the 70s?)
We don't know that it wasn't. I might sound like some ditto-head, but I am not. I just hate assumptions....especially the unspoken ones we continue to leave unchallenged while we keep tossing around conclusions that wholly depend on them.
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240. tornadodude
9:08 PM GMT on October 15, 2009
Quoting xcool:
tornadodude not many


yeah, I'm definitely pumped, I know I'm gonna love this job.
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239. AstroHurricane001
9:08 PM GMT on October 15, 2009
It's also too early to tell for this one, but it looks like 20-E (future Rick) will make landfall on Baja California Sur as a cat. 4. The last time a hurricane brought cat. 4-strength winds to that Mexican state was Hurricane Liza in 1976 (didn't make landfall, but brushed by Baja). It killed about 900 people in Mexico.
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238. xcool
9:07 PM GMT on October 15, 2009
tornadodude not may
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237. Skyepony (Mod)
9:07 PM GMT on October 15, 2009
atmo Please refer here..

Anthropogenic Effects on Tropical Cyclone Activity
(Revised January, 2006)

Kerry Emanuel
Program in Atmospheres, Oceans, and Climate Click Here to return to Kerry Emanuel’s Home page.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Cambridge, MA 02139, USA

Part I: Frequently asked questions

Part II: Essay



I. Frequently Asked Questions about Global Warming and Hurricanes



1.) Q: Is global warming causing more hurricanes?

A: No.
The global, annual frequency of tropical cyclones (the generic, meteorological term for the storm that is called a tropical storm or hurricane in the Atlantic region) is about 90, plus or minus 10. There is no indication whatsoever of a long-term trend in this number.
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About JeffMasters

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