Record warmth in Atlantic Main Development Region for hurricanes

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 4:52 PM GMT on March 08, 2010

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Sea Surface Temperatures (SSTs) in the Atlantic's Main Development Region for hurricanes were at their highest February level on record last month, according to an analysis of historical SST data from the UK Hadley Center. SST data goes back to 1850, though there is much missing data before 1910 and during WWI and WWII. The region between 10°N and 20°N, between the coast of Africa and Central America, is called the Main Development Region (MDR) because virtually all African waves originate in this region. These African waves account for 85% of all Atlantic major hurricanes and 60% of all named storms. When SSTs in the MDR are much above average during hurricane season, a very active season typically results (if there is no El Niño event present.)


Figure 1. The departure of sea surface temperature (SST) from average for March 7, 2010, as derived from the AMSR and AVHRR satellite data. Image credit: NOAA.

SSTs in the Main Development Region (10°N to 20°N and 20°W to 85°W) were an eye-opening 1.02°C above average during February. This easily beats the previous record of 0.83°C set in 1998. SSTs in the Main Development Region are already warmer than they were during June of last year, which is pretty remarkable, considering February is usually the coldest month of the year for SSTs in the North Atlantic. The 1.02°C anomaly is the 6th highest monthly SST anomaly for the MDR on record. The only other months with higher anomalies all occurred during 2005 (April, May, June, July, and September 2005 had anomalies of 1.06°C - 1.23°C).

What is responsible for the high SSTs?
Don't blame El Niño for the high Atlantic SSTs. El Niño is a warming of the Pacific waters near the Equator, and has no direct impact on Atlantic SSTs. Instead, blame the Arctic Oscillation (AO) or its close cousin, the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO). The AO and NAO are climate patterns in the North Atlantic Ocean related to fluctuations in the difference of sea-level pressure between the Icelandic Low and the Azores-Bermuda High. They are some of the oldest known climate oscillations; seafaring Scandinavians described the pattern several centuries ago. Through east-west oscillation motions of the Icelandic Low and the Azores-Bermuda High, the AO/NAO controls the strength and direction of westerly winds and storm tracks across the North Atlantic. A large difference in the pressure between Iceland and the Azores (positive NAO) leads to increased westerly winds and mild and wet winters in Europe. Positive NAO conditions also cause the Icelandic Low to draw a stronger south-westerly flow of air over eastern North America, preventing Arctic air from plunging southward. In contrast, if the difference in sea-level pressure between Iceland and the Azores is small (negative NAO), westerly winds are suppressed, allowing Arctic air to spill southwards into eastern North America more readily. The winter of 2009 - 2010 has seen the most negative AO and NAO patterns since record keeping began in 1950, which caused a very cold winter in Florida and surrounding states. A negative AO/NAO implies a very weak Azores-Bermuda High, which reduces the trade winds circulating around the High. During December - February, trade winds between Africa and the Lesser Antilles Islands in the hurricane Main Development Region were 1 - 2 m/s (2.2 - 4.5 mph) below average (Figure 2). Slower trade winds mean less mixing of the surface waters with cooler waters down deep, plus less evaporational cooling of the surface water. As a result, the ocean has heated up significantly, relative to normal, over the winter. This heating is superimposed on the very warm global SSTs we've been seeing over the past decade, leading to the current record warmth. Global and Northern Hemisphere SSTs were the 2nd warmest on record in both December and January.


Figure 2. Sea level pressure averaged for the period December 2009 - February 2010 (left) and the sea level pressure averaged for the period December - February from the long-term mean (1968 - 1998). This winter, the Azores-Bermuda High was about 3 - 4 mb weaker than in a typical winter, due to strongly negative AO/NAO conditions. Image credit: NOAA/ESRL.


Figure 3. Departure of surface wind speed from average for December 2009 - February 2010. Winds were about 1 - 2 m/s (2.2 - 4.5 mph) lower than average over the Atlantic hurricane Main Development Region (MDR). Image credit: NOAA/ESRL.

What does this imply for the coming hurricane season?
According to Dr. Phil Klotzbach of the University of Colorado, February temperatures in the MDR are not strongly correlated with active hurricane seasons. The mathematical correlation between hurricane season Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) and February SSTs is only 0.26, which is considered weak. Past hurricane seasons that had high February SST anomalies include 1998 (0.83°C anomaly), 2007 (0.71°C anomaly), and 1958 (0.68°C anomaly). These three years averaged 13 named storms, 8 hurricanes, and 3 intense hurricanes, which is considerably higher than the average of 10, 6, and 2. The big question is, how long will the strong negative AO/NAO conditions keep the Azores-Bermuda High weak? Well, the AO has risen to near-neutral values over the past week, and the latest 2-week forecast from the GFS model show that the AO and NAO will not be as strongly negative during March. This should allow the Azores-Bermuda High to strengthen some this month and increase the trade winds over the MDR. However, I still expect we'll set a record for warmest-ever March SSTs in the Main Development Region. Longer term, the crystal ball is very fuzzy, as our ability to predict the weather months in advance is poor. The long-range NOAA CFS model is predicting SSTs in the Atlantic MDR will be about 0.70°C above average during the peak months of hurricane season, making it one of the top five warmest years on record--but not as warm as the unbelievable Hurricane Season of 2005, which averaged 0.95°C above normal during August - October. The other big question is, when will El Niño fade? El Niño is currently holding steady at moderate intensity, and I expect that will continue through at least mid-April. It is possible El Niño will linger long enough into the year that it will create increased wind shear that will suppress this year's hurricane season.

Brazilian disturbance
An area of disturbed weather off the coast of Brazil, near 24S 36W, has changed little over the past two days. This disturbance still has a slight potential to develop into subtropical or tropical depression by Wednesday, according to the latest runs of the ECMWF, GFS, and NOGAPS models. Satellite imagery shows little organization to the cloud pattern, and only limited heavy thunderstorm activity. Wind shear over the region is about 20 knots, which is rather high, and should keep any development slow. Sea surface temperatures are about 27°C, about 1°C above average, which is warm enough to support a tropical storm. The system is small, limiting its potential to become a tropical cyclone. I don't think it will become a subtropical depression.

I'll have a new post on Wednesday.
Jeff Masters

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101. xcool




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Quoting RitaEvac:
And I'm going Vegas possibly in July, hope nothing is on the calendar


The "Myan Calendar" has you good in July! Have Fun!
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And I'm going Vegas possibly in July, hope nothing is on the calendar
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If earthquakes start becoming more frequent and deadly, I might start wondering what the hell is going on. January was Haiti, February was Chile, March so far is Turkey, with other numerous unreported quakes around the world that doesnt cause damage or deaths.
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I'd listen to the Myan calendar before that idiot
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"I'm scared," confessed Paul Ehrlich in the 1970 Earth Day issue of Look. "I have a 14 year old daughter whom I love very much. I know a lot of young people, and their world is being destroyed. My world is being destroyed. I'm 37 and I'd kind of like to live to be 67 in a reasonably pleasant world, and not die in some kind of holocaust in the next decade." Ehrlich didn't die in a holocaust, and the world is far more pleasant than he thought it would be. It is probably too much to hope that abashed humility will strike him and he'll desist in bedeviling the world with his dire and consistently wrong predictions. He's like a reverse Cassandra --Cassandra made true prophecies but no one would listen to her. Ehrlich makes false prophecies and everyone listens to him.

Is it any wonder why if Paul Ehrlich said that the sun rises in the East, that any sane person would ask for his data so that we could replicate his conclusion?
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Paul Ehrlich warned in the May 1970 issue of Audubon that DDT and other chlorinated hydrocarbons "may have substantially reduced the life expectancy of people born since 1945." In his "Eco-Catastrophe!" scenario, Ehrlich put a finer point on these fears by envisioning a 1973 Department of Health, Education, and Welfare study which would find "that Americans born since 1946...now had a life expectancy of only 49 years, and predicted that if current patterns continued this expectancy would reach 42 years by 1980, when it might level out."
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Imminent global famine caused by the explosion of the "population bomb" was the big issue on Earth Day 1970. Then--and now--the most prominent prophet of population doom was Stanford University biologist Paul Ehrlich. Dubbed "ecology's angry lobbyist" by Life magazine, the gloomy Ehrlich was quoted everywhere. "Population will inevitably and completely outstrip whatever small increases in food supplies we make," he confidently declared in an interview with then-radical journalist Peter Collier in the April 1970 Mademoiselle. "The death rate will increase until at least 100-200 million people per year will be starving to death during the next ten years."

"Most of the people who are going to die in the greatest cataclysm in the history of man have already been born," wrote Ehrlich in an essay titled "Eco-Catastrophe!," which ran in the special Earth Day issue of the radical magazine Ramparts. "By...[1975] some experts feel that food shortages will have escalated the present level of world hunger and starvation into famines of unbelievable proportions. Other experts, more optimistic, think the ultimate food-population collision will not occur until the decade of the 1980s." Ehrlich sketched out his most alarmist scenario for the Earth Day issue of The Progressive, assuring readers that between 1980 and 1989, some 4 billion people, including 65 million Americans, would perish in the "Great Die-Off."
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Quoting wunderkidcayman:
hey guys look at this
Link


from 19N 78W to 15N 75W to 10N 76-77W
moving westward


What are we looking at?
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hey guys look at this
Link


from 19N 78W to 15N 75W to 10N 76-77W
moving westward
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An Accurate Analogy At This Blog?

Tornado Season = Baseball Season
Hurricane Season = Football Season

(Today's set-list includes: Dave Edmunds - "Slipping Away")
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March 6th:



March 8th




TPW
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Med storm still going strong

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86. MTWX
Was trying to see what Tony's thoughts were on the threat, but his website is not liking me right now.Link
Member Since: July 20, 2009 Posts: 23 Comments: 1393
85. MTWX
Quoting Jeff9641:


Looking at at the shear analysis I can see why large tornadoes will occur. I think Norman may have The Arklatex area under a moderate risk come tomorrow or Wed morning. I'm saying 15 to 30 tornadoes Wed and Thursday and this number maybe way to low if surface moisture is sufficient.

I concur. We will have to just wait and see how much moisture the system is going to pull out of the Gulf.
Member Since: July 20, 2009 Posts: 23 Comments: 1393
82. MTWX
Quoting Jeff9641:


I like your severe chances on Wednesday. Could be some large tornadoes in East Texas moving east toward LA & Ark come night fall. Severe wx then should focus itself in Florida Thursday and Friday along with a flood threat. You should get some nice storm footage in couple days.

got to go dust off the camera and make sure all of the NWS report numbers are loaded into the phone. Looks like it could get pretty interesting!!
Member Since: July 20, 2009 Posts: 23 Comments: 1393
I've been listening to Paul Ehrlich tell me how "We're all gonna die!" for more than 40 years. If all of his predictions had come true, man and most of the other life on Earth would have already been extinct.

Like the boy who cried wolf, even if he is correct this time, he will be ignored. Except that this time, he sees that he is being ignored and starts yelling..."Uncle Sam, make them listen to me, or else we'll prosecute for whatever crimes we can make up."

Paul Ehrlich has long since become a joke, himself.
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Quoting Skyepony:


Geez Grace what an argument..in too cold of waters & near 30kts of shear.. these shallow ones, too far north. I think we've seen theory of them thriving on the upper shear as long as they don't get too strong. Not sure if they are included in the long term modeling, especially since they seem more common so recent. But Robert Ehrlich does completely discount shear so 11Xs seems real high.. I'd think 110 hurricanes a year would more than drain the SST potential before season was done.


Meteo France in their yearly report to the WMO Region IV Hurricane Committee meeting which started today took issue with the naming of Grace:

Some words about Tropical Storm GRACE and the tropical cyclone definition of the RA IV
(may concern the RAIV hurricane operational plan)

Grace has formed in the beginning of October near the 40th parallel north (around 20-25° ouest, north-east of the Azores islands) from a phasing between an old frontal system and an upper level forcing. This mechanism of cyclogenesis has not to be compared to tropical cyclogenesis and is very common for mid-lattitude disturbance.

The fact that the system generates deep convection and wind force above 50 kts around a center that shows an eye-like structure is not enough for this storm to be considered a tropical cyclone; even if it shows some sign of warm core, that is again usual for autumnal mid-lattitude cyclogenesis over the ocean (and also in Mediterranean see), when the ocean is much warmer than the air mass involved in the low pressure area.

Above this meteorological fact, we must not forget that the number of tropical cyclones during a season is a number on which people focus more and more with climate change (even if there is better mean to qualify and quatify the activity), specially when we have to deal with the problematic of “more cyclone or not with global warming”. What if a cyclogenesis like grace’s one after the 1st of December?

So, this hurricane season shows us that, once again, it is important to stick and perhaps to be clearer with the definition of a tropical cyclone for the 2 reasons mentioned in this document

(Tropical Cyclone: A warm-core, non-frontal synoptic-scale cyclone, originating over tropical or subtropical waters, with organized deep convection and closed surface wind circulation about a well defined centre.)

-if the term “non frontal” is not enough to make a difference between tropical mechanism and mid-latitude mechanism with upper level forcing we have to think to be more precise.

-As Ana and Erika told us, we have to track a tropical cyclone even if the center is not well defined ( see below the examples of discussion about Erika.)


Meteo France Report (doc)
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XtremeHurricanes.com UPDATE:

With the 2010 Atlantic Hurricane Season now just 84 days away, the XtremeTeam is ready to take you guys with them right inside the eyewall of a U.S. coastline land falling hurricane. When we deploy, I expect the live chat room at the site to be ticking off some pretty interesting information, like our current location, current readings, situational updates, etc.

We still have a couple of videos to create, not the least of which being "Experience Hurricane Jimena" from 2009. Although I did not make it directly into the storm, the footage I shot will still be of interest to many.

PensacolaDoug and I have shored up many off-season loose-ends and we're ready to go.

One new twist will be the availability of a Yahama Rhino side-by-side ATV which will have HD cameras mounted to it. Since the hurricane web cam is a portable unit, if the ATV is in operation, the web cam will be on-board with us.

So yeah...we're ready for hurricane season.

Are you?
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:


Pretty nasty looking weather you got coming!
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The blizzard warning, previously scheduled to begin at 6pm this evening, has been issued early and is now in effect, due to the visibilities under 1/2 mile already observed here in Homer during the periodic snow showers that are coming over the mountains.

WESTERN KENAI PENINSULA-
INCLUDING THE CITIES OF...KENAI...SOLDOTNA...HOMER...
COOPER LANDING
910 AM AKST MON MAR 8 2010

...BLIZZARD WARNING NOW IN EFFECT UNTIL 6 AM AKST TUESDAY AROUND
KACHEMAK BAY...

THE BLIZZARD WARNING IS NOW IN EFFECT UNTIL 6 AM AKST TUESDAY
AROUND KACHEMAK BAY.

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26700
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 178 Comments: 55978
"...He then fits the function to the data from real hurricanes ie sea surface temperatures and latitude data from satellite images from 1960 until 2007...

...That could help to solve an important climate change puzzle but before greater reliance can be placed on Ehrlich's, it needs to show its colours by accurately forecasting the numbers of hurricanes in the next few years..."

My question is, how well did his "forecast" pan out when it was matched against the 2008 and 2009 seasons?

Also, if the average is 10, 6, and 2, then he's saying an 11x increase to 110, 66 and 22?

Somehow, the numbers don't add up...
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Quoting biff4ugo:
I saw a record that showed hurricanes in every month of the year.
This one doesn't show a March storm.
http://www.aoml.noaa.gov/hrd/tcfaq/yearly2.jpg

Ok OZ, did you have to show Alex hitting Florida in the background graphic???



On purpose, that was... :)
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It's 60 degrees here. Feels more like it's in the 70's. :)
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Entire paper, A Universal Hurricane Frequency Function. Seems quite a reach to me.
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Dr M's list of pre June tropical storms showed a 1908 hurricane in March which reached cat 2. It formed to the NW of the Leeward Islands and tracked SW to SSW across the Northern Leeward Islands where it grew to cat 2. It then tracked into the eastern Caribbean before petering out just to the north of Venezuela. I don't believe I have ever seen a similiar track for any other storm.
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69. MTWX
severe weather on the table for us during the mid-week. I'm excited!! I can't wait. Hopefully anything really severe happens during the day, but I would mind a good night time light show!!
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68. Skyepony (Mod)
Quoting Levi32:


Yeah and that's why in a way it was still subtropical in nature, but pretty much as tropical as you can get over waters that cold. Convection was very shallow with Vince so high-level winds at 200mb wouldn't necessarily be a negative effect on the system. In fact a strong flow aloft at 200mb could even ventilate the system by taking air out of the top of the air column.


That's what I was talking about..shallow systems, using upper shear to survive in colder water.. Robert Ehrlich doesn't even seem to recognize these can only survive to a certain strength, since as the strengthen & get taller the shear would kill them.. his quote in the media article stacks his numbers with more extreme storms adds higher sea levels to make it truely frightening.. seems a tad simplistically overdone but brings a point about a larger MDR..
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67. Skyepony (Mod)
I'll let ya'll know if I see it get published.. kind of doubt it comes to pass.
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Quoting Skyepony:


It had an upper level trough over it instead of an anticyclone at about it's peak. I'm not talking impossibly high shear just improbable shear 20-30kts.


Yeah and that's why in a way it was still subtropical in nature, but pretty much as tropical as you can get over waters that cold. Convection was very shallow with Vince so high-level winds at 200mb wouldn't necessarily be a negative effect on the system. In fact a strong flow aloft at 200mb could even ventilate the system by taking air out of the top of the air column.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26700
I saw a record that showed hurricanes in every month of the year.
This one doesn't show a March storm.
http://www.aoml.noaa.gov/hrd/tcfaq/yearly2.jpg

Ok OZ, did you have to show Alex hitting Florida in the background graphic???

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64. Skyepony (Mod)
Quoting Levi32:


No, I believe Vince simply formed as a subtropical low that got absorbed by a frontal wave, which then became cut-off from the westerlies and lost its frontal characteristics, eventually becoming warm-core. This system was what became Vince. I don't remember shear being an issue, but SSTs were controversial.


It had an upper level trough over it instead of an anticyclone at about it's peak. I'm not talking impossibly high shear just improbable shear 20-30kts.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 223 Comments: 39358
Quoting Skyepony:


Geez Grace what an argument..in too cold of waters & near 30kts of shear.. these shallow ones, too far north. I think we've seen theory of them thriving on the upper shear as long as they don't get too strong. Not sure if they are included in the long term modeling, especially since they seem more common so recent. But Robert Ehrlich does completely discount shear so 11Xs seems real high.. I'd think 110 hurricanes a year would more than drain the SST potential before season was done.


Exactly, and that number shows how ridiculous his idea is. Not only does he discount a ton of other variables, but 110 hurricanes in the Atlantic per year would only happen in an insanely imbalanced earth heat budget. If Global Warming is true, then based on Dr. Masters last post about winter storms, the poles would warm more than the equator and the earth would have LESS need to balance its heat budget. Hurricanes live to transport heat from the tropics to the poles. It is the one of the earth's main ways of accomplishing this. 110 hurricanes per year in the Atlantic simply won't be needed in a theoretically warmer world.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26700
62. Skyepony (Mod)
Quoting CybrTeddy:


Last year Grace beat Vinces record of Latitude IIRC.


Geez Grace what an argument..in too cold of waters & near 30kts of shear.. these shallow ones, too far north. I think we've seen theory of them thriving on the upper shear as long as they don't get too strong. Not sure if they are included in the long term modeling, especially since they seem more common so recent. But Robert Ehrlich does completely discount shear so 11Xs seems real high.. I'd think 110 hurricanes a year would more than drain the SST potential before season was done.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 223 Comments: 39358
Quoting Jeff9641:


Yeah were supposed to hit the low to mid 80's come mid week in Orlando.


yeah, we are finally getting 50's and low 60's here.

we had 94 days in a row with temperatures below 55 degrees.

1978 we had 90.
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 25 Comments: 8360
Quoting Skyepony:


Wasn't shear impossibly high over Vince?


No, I believe Vince simply formed as a subtropical low that got absorbed by a frontal wave, which then became cut-off from the westerlies and lost its frontal characteristics, eventually becoming warm-core. This system was what became Vince. I don't remember shear being an issue, but SSTs were controversial.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26700
58. Skyepony (Mod)
Quoting Skyepony:
The 11 X seems improbable to me but I think this guy is looking at the Hurricane Vinces..The new trend at higher latitude storms in places we don't see them in climatology.


Wasn't shear impossibly high over Vince?
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 223 Comments: 39358
Quoting HurricaneHunterGal:

I agree! should be an interesting year!

Does anyone know (with relative certainty) when the earliest Tropical Depresson, earliest Tropical Storm, and earliest hurricane formed in the Atlantic in a Hurricane Season? I have been finding conflicting results...


I have only reviewed the climatological record for the past 60 years (1950-2009) too date-relative to this question. That being said, there was a ST storm that developed in January of 1978.

As time permits, I will be posting additional blog entries consisting of a wide variety of interesting climatological data. Hope this helps and I also hope each one of you have a great rest of the day!:)
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Quoting Skyepony:
The 11 X seems improbable to me but I think this guy is looking at the Hurricane Vinces..The new trend at higher latitude storms in places we don't see them in climatology.


Last year Grace beat Vinces record of Latitude IIRC.
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55. Skyepony (Mod)
The 11 X seems improbable to me but I think this guy is looking at the Hurricane Vinces..The new trend at higher latitude storms in places we don't see them in climatology.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 223 Comments: 39358
Looking like spring (:

Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 25 Comments: 8360
53. Skyepony (Mod)
OZ~ fold in math means to multiply.. 11 fold means X 11. Here was the hockey puck but just through current times. Not future modeling..



Emanuel & others has shown from more recent data that years the N Atl has many we see a drop in WPac #s. As you can see by the hockey puck, last year is noted as a down year for NAtl & that doesn't seem to drag the average down as much as we'd like. I hope this trend reverses before the ACE numbers, which have been low the last few years, trend up again.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 223 Comments: 39358
Quoting JeffMasters:


how can it be a 'law' if it doesn't take any other factors into account?? If other factors aren't addressed, how could this new 'law' ever be proven as law?
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Quoting JeffMasters:
However, this law is very limited, since it knows nothing about large scale circulation changes that may accompany changes in SST. Climate models are increasingly pointing towards a future with higher wind shear in portions of the Main Development Region of the Atlantic, leading to fewer total hurricanes by 2100, but with the strongest storms getting stronger. The 11x increase in hurricanes predicted by Ehrlich seems highly improbable to me.

Jeff Masters


I would agree with that.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26700

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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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