Hurricane tracks, changes in hurricane clustering, and other notes from Tucson

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:44 PM GMT on May 12, 2010

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I'm in Tucson for the American Meteorological Society's 29th Conference on Hurricanes and Tropical Meteorology. This is the premier scientific conference on hurricanes, and is held only once every two years, so pretty much all of the world's greatest hurricane experts are here. Below are some quick snapshots of four of the talks I attended yesterday; I hope to more more snapshots each day this week.

Angela Colbert of the University of Miami/RSMAS showed how different weather and climate patterns affect the Azores-Bermuda High, and thus the tracks of Atlantic hurricanes. She divided storms into straight-moving storms that move straight west-northwest through the Caribbean, recurving landfalling hurricane that hit the east coast of the U.S., and recurving ocean storms that miss land. Roughly 1/3 of all hurricanes between 1950 - 2009 fell into each of these three categories. These proportions stayed pretty constant during La Niña and neutral years, but El Niño caused a weakening of the high, resulting in far fewer hurricanes hitting the U.S. East Coast. These storms instead recurved out to sea.

Jim Kossin of the University of Wisconsin separated all Atlantic storms from 1950 - 2007 into 4 clusters, based on genesis location. Two of the clusters were more northerly-forming storms that tended to be less tropical in nature--Gulf of Mexico storms, and storms off the U.S. East Coast that tended to recurve. The other two clusters were more southerly tropical-origin systems--ones that tended to form in the Caribbean, and storms that form near the Cape Verde Island region off the coast of Africa. The more tropical Cape Verde and Caribbean storms dominated major hurricane frequency by a factor of four. In mid-1980s, there was an abrupt shift to more of these more dangerous tropical type storms--ten years prior to the active hurricane period that began in 1995. It is unknown what caused this shift. The shift is unlikely to be a result of measurement error, since we had good satellite imagery then. Independent of any trends in frequency, this shift caused an increase in intensity metrics of Atlantic hurricanes. A doubling of these tropical systems has also occurred since 1950. Interestingly, there has been no change in the number of Gulf of Mexico storms, and a slight increase in storms forming off of the U.S. East Coast. Since slight changes in track can make a big difference in what SSTs and atmospheric environment a storm sees, there is a lot of natural "noise" in the system that will make it difficult to get a clear sense of when climate change is having a substantial impact on hurricane intensity.

Bin Wang of the University of Miami studied the global number of storm days from 1965 - 2008, which should be a less sensitive quantity to data problems than the number of storms or their intensity. Storm days were defined as any day when a tropical cyclone of tropical depression strength or greater existed. However, there are still some data problems, as evidenced by a sharp drop in storm days observed in the North Indian Ocean beginning in 1978. Dr. Wang found that there was no global trend in storm days. The Atlantic was the only individual basin that showed an increase in storm days.

Greg Holland of NCAR looked at the distribution of the strongest hurricanes over time by using a mathematical description of the historical hurricane data. His analysis showed that during the period 1995 - 2008, we probably had about a 30% increase in Category 5 storms in the Atlantic, and an 18% increase in Category 4 hurricanes. Using a climate model, he predicted that by the years 2045 - 2055, we should see a 60% increase in Cat 5s, 32% increase in Cat 4s, and 16% increase in Cat 3s in the Atlantic.

Jeff Masters

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Quoting atmoaggie:

Hmm, no 2 seasons are alike, of course, but I'll say, I'd take 1878 over what some are calling for. A little busy, but too terrible.



When I do my historical reenactment as my GG Grandfather Hannibal Pierce in 1883 (dressed as in my avatar), I discuss in first person the 1878 hurricanes.. Gramps got in his sailboat the "Creole" at Hypoluxo Island to go to the nearest store at Titusville.. 165 miles away, and it took nearly two months to get back home...
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Morning all.

The studies the doc encapsulated in his blog are interesting, at least in examining trends. The one that I found most interesting is that world-wide only the ATL seems to be seeing this upward trend in TC formation. (Didn't the one guy from UMiami find that there seems to have been a DEcrease in the Indian Ocean systems in the last period?) I'm wondering if we are seeing a genuine "global warming" trend, or if this is more of a multi-decadal pattern spanning 7+ decades. It's not that we haven't seen such an upswing before; it just seems the cycle lasts longer than 25-30 years.....
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638. JRRP
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Quoting Floodman:


Try this:

Memorex discontinued product web page

Or you might find this useful

Memorex Driver Utility



thanks flood!
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This is a strong tropical wave, but nothing will form. It's just a sign of things to come as some people are saying. I will be watching the Caribbean in 2 weeks. With the MJO pulse coming, shear possibly relaxing, something might just pop up, I mean.. If we can get Andrea and Barry (both 2007), we could get Alex in 2-4 weeks time frame.
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Quoting TampaSpin:
Its truly just ITCZ convection! We see that all the time during Tropical Season. Nothing will come of this unless it pulls away from the ITCZ and the further north it moves the higher the Shear. Nothing is going to develop that far out yet.
Hey tampaspin yeah its not going to develop too much shear in the basin but you got to admit the tropical wave is impressive for may and this could be a precursor to a busy season in the Mdr.
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Its truly just ITCZ convection! We see that all the time during Tropical Season. Nothing will come of this unless it pulls away from the ITCZ and the further north it moves the higher the Shear. Nothing is going to develop that far out yet.
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time frame is 132 hours, day 6, 18/05/10
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Quoting wunderkidcayman:
the model I posted is the 00z 13/05/10


No I mean, on what day is the model forecasting that?
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Quoting wunderkidcayman:
the model I posted is the 00z 13/05/10


i dont think where going too see some in that soon
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the model I posted is the 00z 13/05/10
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Quoting wunderkidcayman:
hey guys it looks like gfs is expecting either a tropical wave or our AOI/tropical wave to develop a weak low pressure system near the Cayman Islands



What's the time frame?
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Quoting KoritheMan:


I agree. Convectively active waves like this one are certainly very aesthetically pleasing, as well as fun to track. :P

But satellite signature is crucial to determining how favorable conditions are for tropical cyclogenesis. And right now, they are unfavorable.



turn but the wave are be low the red line so wind shear is vary low too none
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hey guys it looks like gfs is expecting either a tropical wave or our AOI/tropical wave to develop a weak low pressure system near the Cayman Islands

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Quoting Tazmanian:
oh cars about the satellite signature


has long has we can see the waves


I agree. Convectively active waves like this one are certainly very aesthetically pleasing, as well as fun to track. :P

But satellite signature is crucial to determining how favorable conditions are for tropical cyclogenesis. And right now, they are unfavorable.
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oh cars about the satellite signature


has long has we can see the waves
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Quoting Tazmanian:
you guys are all so forgeting that sea temper where are waves are comeing off are vary warm for any time of year


True, but there's also the climatological westerlies in that area, evidenced by our tropical wave's poor satellite signature, with a sharp cirrus spike to the northeast.
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Quoting GeoffreyWPB:


The current waves will not last that long. Perhaps the C.V. season will start early...but not anytime soon.


Quoting Levi32:


The only place they could possibly develop is the western Caribbean, and while most of them don't have a great chance after transversing South America, they could accumulate into trouble by the end of the month. We've got what now....6 waves on the surface map? If they keep coming off like this, what do you think is gonna happen when you slam a whole train of tropical waves, even weak ones, westward towards Central America? You end up building up a lot of heat as air piles up in that area, and eventually we will see that in the form of heavy thunderstorm activity in the western Caribbean or eastern Pacific.


I was mainly referring to the Eastern Pacific, since their season is rapidly approaching. It's not unreasonable to assume that tropical cyclogenesis will occur there before long.
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you guys are all so forgeting that sea temper where are waves are comeing off are vary warm for any time of year
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621. xcool



85 GHz Radiance
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Quoting P451:
Portender of things to come. Good thing it's as south as it is and as early in the season it is.

But it's still an omen. It's going to be a rough tropical season.




that wave looks vary strong i wounder if it will be are 1st 90L or name storm
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looks like rotation in the storm near topika

Link
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Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
Nothing off of Africa is going to form into anything anytime soon. Conditions just not favorable. But I think it is a sign of things to come.



Quoting KoritheMan:


No, they won't develop into Cape Verde hurricanes, but waves this vigorous certainly have the potential to develop when they reach a more favorable upper-level wind environment.


The only place they could possibly develop is the western Caribbean, and while most of them don't have a great chance after transversing South America, they could accumulate into trouble by the end of the month. We've got what now....6 waves on the surface map? If they keep coming off like this, what do you think is gonna happen when you slam a whole train of tropical waves, even weak ones, westward towards Central America? You end up building up a lot of heat as air piles up in that area, and eventually we will see that in the form of heavy thunderstorm activity in the western Caribbean or eastern Pacific.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26548
Quoting KoritheMan:


No, they won't develop into Cape Verde hurricanes, but waves this vigorous certainly have the potential to develop when they reach a more favorable upper-level wind environment.


The current waves will not last that long. Perhaps the C.V. season will start early...but not anytime soon.
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Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
Nothing off of Africa is going to form into anything anytime soon. Conditions just not favorable. But I think it is a sign of things to come.





No, they won't develop into Cape Verde hurricanes, but waves this vigorous certainly have the potential to develop when they reach a more favorable upper-level wind environment.
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Quoting truecajun:
hello everyone.

it's been almost two months since we've had rain.(we had a 5 minute drizzle about two weeks ago, that i'm not counting as rain) is anyone else in this boat?



Where do you live?

I'm in Louisiana, and yes, it's been abnormally dry here this summer, so much so that we're now officially in a mild drought.
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Quoting truecajun:
hello everyone.

it's been almost two months since we've had rain.(we had a 5 minute drizzle about two weeks ago, that i'm not counting as rain) is anyone else in this boat?


I live in N TX. About 2 mos ago, as the El Nino started to fade away, the rain has been scarce here also.
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Nothing off of Africa is going to form into anything anytime soon. Conditions just not favorable. But I think it is a sign of things to come.



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Quoting JRRP:
over Africa ??

yeah i've seen that before
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Hey Guys,...

We've all been watching these impressive build ups of TCHP and SSTs and comparing them to previous years etc. But the NOAA site has that stuff achrived back to Jan. 2005. Does anyone know if that information (TCHP,..SSTs) is available for years like 2000-2004?? I'd be especially interested in comparing 2004 to the ones from 2005 to now,..that was a very active year.
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hello everyone.

it's been almost two months since we've had rain.(we had a 5 minute drizzle about two weeks ago, that i'm not counting as rain) is anyone else in this boat?

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605. JRRP
over Africa ??

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1878...have to ask Grothar about that.
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Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
Too early to tell Conan. As far as So. Fla.


I meant if 1878 were to occur.
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2004 was awful. Frances and Jeanne...weeks without power...17 days without work.
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Quoting GeoffreyWPB:


We are cool. But I really believe that we will not see a depression in the Atlantic basin this month. Kinda agree? Almost halfway through the month. I know things can change on a dime, but just don’t see it happening before June 1st.


Yeah, I think there is a chance but not a great one. The next MJO pulse should be lighting up the Atlantic from May 25th to June 10th, putting most of the chance in June.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26548
Too early to tell Conan. As far as So. Fla.
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598. Skyepony (Mod)
Quoting pottery:

I'll take 1998 before 2004, anytime I have a choice.


Tough call here. 1998 the state was on fire. 2004 had alot of 'canes.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 161 Comments: 37388
Quoting atmoaggie:

Hmm, no 2 seasons are alike, of course, but I'll say, I'd take 1878 over what some are calling for. A little busy, but too terrible.



S Fla would not like this year.
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Quoting Levi32:


Yes I know, and the feeling is mutual. I was just attempting some of your humor, though I probably failed. I do agree with you on your comment about analogs, but I do think we aren't completely in the dark when it comes to predicting tracks.


We are cool. But I really believe that we will not see a depression in the Atlantic basin this month. Kinda agree? Almost halfway through the month. I know things can change on a dime, but just don’t see it happening before June 1st.
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595. beell
Anyway, I just think our science is advanced enough to start taking these steps

Some of those first steps in science over the last couple thousand years have done us some good, Levi!
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Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
Apologize for the repeat posts...You know I respect your opinions Levi...but it is not bad to disagree sometimes.


Yes I know, and the feeling is mutual. I was just attempting some of your humor, though I probably failed. I do agree with you on your comment about analogs, but I do think we aren't completely in the dark when it comes to predicting tracks.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26548
Quoting Levi32:
Taking this with a massive grain of salt, here is the extended SST dataset for 1878:



This, coupled with the SOI, makes 1878 appear very much like this year, but we can never really know.


Dat's a big grain of salt...

But could be similar once it is said and done...
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Apologize for the repeat posts...You know I respect your opinions Levi...but it is not bad to disagree sometimes.
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Taking this with a massive grain of salt, here is the extended SST dataset for 1878:



This, coupled with the SOI, makes 1878 appear very much like this year, but we can never really know.

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26548
Quoting Chicklit:
Geoffrey Dear, I think you've said that about three times. No, he can't say he agrees.
He's a kid, ROFL.
Goodnight all. Thanks for posting the updates Patrap but I cannot listen to a word of it until they say they have shut the infernal thing down.


Well I'd get comfortable..

Nothing is gonna work till DD-3 taps the relief well. All the moves now are for, well,..effort or show.

5 million gals spilled into the Environment and counting.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127601

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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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