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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690. aspectre
12:51 PM GMT on May 21, 2010
In 2005, TropicalStorm Arlene reached near-hurricane strength in the Gulf of Mexico on June10th."

Comparisons with the day before TropicalStorm Arlene began spinning on 8June2005

20May2010

7Jun2005

20May2010

7Jun2005

20May2010
Member Since: August 21, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 4860
689. wxmobilejim
2:53 PM GMT on May 13, 2010
NEW BLOG
Member Since: May 11, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 231
688. Bordonaro
2:53 PM GMT on May 13, 2010
Quoting Floodman:
Way off topic, but I stand corrected; I made a statement the other day that nearly all of the oil we use here in the States comes from overseas and that nearly all of our oil is shipped elsewhere...here is a quote from the EIA website:

"About 53% of the crude oil and petroleum products used in the United States in 2009 came from other countries."

The website that came from is
EIA

Good morning Flood. Tie down your lawn furniture we may get some gusty thunderstorms later this afternoon!
Member Since: August 25, 2009 Posts: 20 Comments: 6785
687. Floodman
2:43 PM GMT on May 13, 2010
Way off topic, but I stand corrected; I made a statement the other day that nearly all of the oil we use here in the States comes from overseas and that nearly all of our oil is shipped elsewhere...here is a quote from the EIA website:

"About 53% of the crude oil and petroleum products used in the United States in 2009 came from other countries."

The website that came from is
EIA
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 9922
686. MahFL
2:43 PM GMT on May 13, 2010
"Maddeningly, they lost a day trying to close a ram without realizing it had been replaced by a useless test part."

Trully unbeleiveable neglegence, 1. to replace the part with a useless one, and 2. not to tell the people that needed to know.


Member Since: June 9, 2004 Posts: 0 Comments: 3707
685. MahFL
2:38 PM GMT on May 13, 2010
If BP tell you, be thankfull, and no it won't work, it's all smoke and mirrors to deflect from the real timeline that the releif wells are going to take to drill. Also I understand it's not 100 % certain the releif wells will work either.
Member Since: June 9, 2004 Posts: 0 Comments: 3707
684. Bordonaro
2:33 PM GMT on May 13, 2010
Good morning everybody! How is everyone? Buhdog, you're making me hungry talking about BBQ'ing.

How is the Tropical Wave in the C ATL coming along??
Member Since: August 25, 2009 Posts: 20 Comments: 6785
683. Floodman
2:32 PM GMT on May 13, 2010
Quoting NEwxguy:


Nothing tastes better then BBQ'd spare ribs on a -20 windchill night.


Yeah, man...that's what I'm talking about!

I can remember BBQing when I lived in St Louis with 6" of snow on the ground and another 4" falling...you brush off the pit, shovel an area in front of it so you can work on it and bang! zoom!

I did up some mighty fine pork steaks that night...got to use Maul's Sweet 'n' Mild sauce
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 9922
682. TampaSpin
2:31 PM GMT on May 13, 2010
Has Bp tried the new CAP that they was lowering yesterday yet? WILL THIS WORK?
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 179 Comments: 20448
681. Buhdog
2:30 PM GMT on May 13, 2010

speaking of BBQ'ing
Today


Mostly
Sunny
Hi 90 °F Tonight


Mostly
Clear
Lo 69 °F Friday


Mostly
Sunny
Hi 91 °F Friday
Night

Partly
Cloudy
Lo 70 °F Saturday


Mostly
Sunny
Hi 90 °F Saturday
Night

Mostly
Clear
Lo 72 °F Sunday


Slight Chc
Tstms
Hi 91 ° Ftmyers is burning up with 60% humid on top!
Member Since: July 30, 2005 Posts: 1 Comments: 960
680. AussieStorm
2:29 PM GMT on May 13, 2010
Quoting CycloneUK:
We are still waiting for summer here in the UK! last night was the coldest may night across the UK since 1996. And after the 3 washout summers in the last 3 years and paralysing winter this year, the barbeque is busy rusting into nothing.

you should rename summer, bummer.
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15962
679. TampaSpin
2:29 PM GMT on May 13, 2010
Funny...i am smoking on my smoker today....LOve the smell of Hickory comin out of that chimmney.
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 179 Comments: 20448
678. Patrap
2:27 PM GMT on May 13, 2010



Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Response


Deepwater Horizon Response


+ Vessel of Opportunity Inquiry
+ Government Affairs Inquiry
+ Media Inquiry
o Join Mailing List

DATE: May 13, 2010 09:24:30 CST
MEDIA ADVISORY: Unified Incident Command, Mobile, Ala., to hold press briefing
Report oiled shoreline or request volunteer information: (866)-448-5816
Submit alternative response technology, services or products: (281) 366-5511
Submit your vessel for the Vessel of Opportunity Program: (281) 366-5511
Submit a claim for damages: (800) 440-0858
Report oiled wildlife: (866) 557-1401

Key contact numbers

* Report oiled shoreline or request volunteer information: (866) 448-5816
* Submit alternative response technology, services or products: (281) 366-5511
* Submit your vessel for the Vessel of Opportunity Program: (281) 366-5511
* Submit a claim for damages: (800) 440-0858
* Report oiled wildlife: (866) 557-1401



Deepwater Horizon Incident
Joint Information Center

Phone: (985) 902-5231
(985) 902-5240

WHO: Capt. Steven Poulin, U.S. Coast Guard incident commander and John Putnam, BP incident commander.

WHAT: The Deepwater Horizon Response Unified Incident Command, Mobile, Ala., is scheduled to hold a press briefing about ongoing response operations, community outreach and local volunteer programs along the Mississippi, Alabama and Florida coasts.

WHEN: Thursday, May 13, 2010, 4:15 p.m. CDT

WHERE: Arthur R. Outlaw Convention Center, One South Water Street Mobile, Ala. 36602

CONTACT: Mobile Joint Information Center (251) 445-8965

For information about the response effort, visit www.deepwaterhorizonresponse.com.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129093
677. NEwxguy
2:24 PM GMT on May 13, 2010
Quoting Floodman:


But CyckloneUK, there is no such thing as BBQ season...I've BBQed in blizzards! You should be firing that bad boy up every chance you get!


Nothing tastes better then BBQ'd spare ribs on a -20 windchill night.
Member Since: September 6, 2007 Posts: 886 Comments: 15950
676. Floodman
2:21 PM GMT on May 13, 2010
Quoting CycloneUK:
We are still waiting for summer here in the UK! last night was the coldest may night across the UK since 1996. And after the 3 washout summers in the last 3 years and paralysing winter this year, the barbeque is busy rusting into nothing.


But CyckloneUK, there is no such thing as BBQ season...I've BBQed in blizzards! You should be firing that bad boy up every chance you get!
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 9922
675. MahFL
2:21 PM GMT on May 13, 2010
Quoting CycloneUK:
We are still waiting for summer here in the UK! last night was the coldest may night across the UK since 1996. And after the 3 washout summers in the last 3 years and paralysing winter this year, the barbeque is busy rusting into nothing.


Actually thats physically impossible, you can't destroy matter.
Member Since: June 9, 2004 Posts: 0 Comments: 3707
674. Floodman
2:20 PM GMT on May 13, 2010
Quoting Jeff9641:


Great Synopsis Flood! That is a correct once the MJO retuns next week watchout.


Thanks, Jeff...yeah, once the MJO ticks upward, it's going to get very interesting, particularly in the central and western Carib...
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 9922
673. Floodman
2:19 PM GMT on May 13, 2010
Quoting catastropheadjuster:

Hey Floodman, how are ya? This is awful about the spill in the gulf.
Sheri


Hey, Sheri! Yeah, I'll say this one the whole spill thing: it turns out that the BOP was disabled (the battery was dead and BP admits that there were hydraulic leaks in the device) making this the fault of all the parties involved. So much for BPs 6.03 billion dollar first quarter profit. I have no real issues with deep water drilling, but the industry has been absolutely negligent in keeping up with the safety needs for projects like this one
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 9922
672. CycloneUK
2:16 PM GMT on May 13, 2010
We are still waiting for summer here in the UK! last night was the coldest may night across the UK since 1996. And after the 3 washout summers in the last 3 years and paralysing winter this year, the barbeque is busy rusting into nothing.
Member Since: March 5, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 39
670. catastropheadjuster
2:13 PM GMT on May 13, 2010
Quoting Floodman:
To be honest, the calendar has less to do with formation than conditions do; tropical systems can form anytime the conditions are right. Where the calendar really comes in is when we look at how far a developed system can get...typically, out of sequence tropical systems (and there've been a few) develop because there's a pocket of favorable conditions...the system moves out of the pocket and they disspate or transition to ex-trop. The issue here is that if something does form the whole basin is transitioning to a summer, hurricane season pattern making it more likely that a forming system will survive.

I agree that it's highly unlikely that we'll see a full blown hurricane develop, but given the time of year and the conditions it's less unlikely than it was say, 6 weeks ago

Hey Floodman, how are ya? This is awful about the spill in the gulf.
Sheri
Member Since: August 24, 2006 Posts: 21 Comments: 3683
669. SomeRandomTexan
2:13 PM GMT on May 13, 2010
Good morning everyone!

Back to watching the tropics for another uneventful day.

Hope everyone in Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas stays safe today.
Member Since: August 30, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1857
668. Floodman
2:05 PM GMT on May 13, 2010
To be honest, the calendar has less to do with formation than conditions do; tropical systems can form anytime the conditions are right. Where the calendar really comes in is when we look at how far a developed system can get...typically, out of sequence tropical systems (and there've been a few) develop because there's a pocket of favorable conditions...the system moves out of the pocket and they disspate or transition to ex-trop. The issue here is that if something does form the whole basin is transitioning to a summer, hurricane season pattern making it more likely that a forming system will survive.

I agree that it's highly unlikely that we'll see a full blown hurricane develop, but given the time of year and the conditions it's less unlikely than it was say, 6 weeks ago
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 9922
666. Chucktown
1:32 PM GMT on May 13, 2010
Quoting sailingallover:
It is crazy there are so many waves so early even if they are embedded mostly in the ITCZ. I have been watching these for a while and while NHC didn't call the earlier ones TW's they had all the characteristics of one. I really don't think we can rule out any of these tropical waves from turning into TD's, TS's or even hurricanes. Below 10N they wont' get a good circulation going but if they get enough strong convection with weak low level steering they can drift the few degress north they would need to get the energy to form a strong closed circulation.
The water heat content and moisture are there. If the shear relaxes anywhere in their path they can blow up in < 24 hours.



Too many ifs.....its May !!
Member Since: August 27, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1776
665. sailingallover
1:30 PM GMT on May 13, 2010
It is crazy there are so many waves so early even if they are embedded mostly in the ITCZ. I have been watching these for a while and while NHC didn't call the earlier ones TW's they had all the characteristics of one. I really don't think we can rule out any of these tropical waves from turning into TD's, TS's or even hurricanes. Below 10N they wont' get a good circulation going but if they get enough strong convection with weak low level steering they can drift the few degress north they would need to get the energy to form a strong closed circulation.
The water heat content and moisture are there. If the shear relaxes anywhere in their path they can blow up in < 24 hours.

Member Since: September 1, 2009 Posts: 23 Comments: 1007
664. Stormchaser2007
1:18 PM GMT on May 13, 2010
Quoting Skyepony:
StormW~ I've never seen this term reactive El Nino any where but here & a total amatuer's site. From what I gather ya'll are saying it started from a reaction to the atmosphere. When does it not? When the Kelvin Waves coming rolling across stronger & more frequent a developing El Nino is expected. This last onset was no different than any other. & even if it was, it's the heat build up that causes the shear. Why is heat from a "reactive" El Nino any more special that it gets to escape the laws of physics & atmosphere when the El Nino is over?


Sorry for being nosy, but what was the name of the "total amateur's" site?
Member Since: June 9, 2007 Posts: 4 Comments: 15946
663. guygee
1:16 PM GMT on May 13, 2010
Quoting aspectre:
608 rocketboy105 "We've all been watching...TCHP and SSTs and comparing them to previous years etc. But the NOAA site has that stuff archived [only] back to Jan. 2005."

NOAA has had older maps in the public access archives, and has been deleting the oldest maps as the years progress.
Haven't the slightest clue as to why; it costs manhours&money to deliberately decide upon and implement the deletions. And none to just leave the archives be.
But that's bureaucratic administrators for ya,
"Make ourselves feel important by keeping the public in the dark."
Hi Aspectre - Just lurking a bit before I set out, and I saw your post.

NOAA has quite a bit of data, including gridded SST data going back to 1854, at the National Climatic Data Center (For SST data start here). If you follow the links you can make your own maps from the raw data.

Here is NOAA's policy on data access(pdf)

NOAA/National Climatic Data Center Open Access to Physical Climate Data Policy
December 2009

The basic tenet of physical climate data management at NOAA is full and open data access. All raw physical climate data available from NOAA’s various climate observing systems as well as the output data from state-of-the-science climate models are openly available in as timely a manner as possible. The timeliness of such data is dependent upon its receipt, coupled with the associated quality control procedures necessary to ensure that the data are valid. In addition, the latest versions of all derived data sets are made available to the public. NOAA also provides access to all of its major climate-related model simulations.

[...] .

C-Ya'
Member Since: September 16, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 3174
662. Skyepony (Mod)
1:14 PM GMT on May 13, 2010
StormW~ I've never seen this term reactive El Nino any where but here & a total amatuer's site. From what I gather ya'll are saying it started from a reaction to the atmosphere. When does it not? When the Kelvin Waves coming rolling across stronger & more frequent a developing El Nino is expected. This last onset was no different than any other. & even if it was, it's the heat build up that causes the shear. Why is heat from a "reactive" El Nino any more special that it gets to escape the laws of physics & atmosphere when the El Nino is over?
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 193 Comments: 38698
661. biff4ugo
12:57 PM GMT on May 13, 2010
The last talk summed on Dr. Masters Blog above by Greg Holland seems to base climatology on 13 years of data. That seems pitifully short sighted. It also seems a bit alarmist to take the rising limb of hurricane activity and project it decades into the future when hurricane activity is known to run in cycles longer than 13 years.
I only saw the summary so it may be a misconception on my part.
Member Since: December 28, 2006 Posts: 115 Comments: 1591
660. Skyepony (Mod)
12:51 PM GMT on May 13, 2010
Tropically 95S & 97S are in a battle, they are too close together to both make it. 95S looks to be winning at the moment but 97S appears to still have game..

Quick run through the news..

They found the body of the 19yr old TN boy that went tubing in the flood.

NE is assessing crops after the freeze..apples & blueberrys hit hard.

Shrimpers, fishermen, hotel owners are beginning to feel the trickle down economic effect of the Gulf oil letting.

Don't forget the Preakness is this weekend...
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 193 Comments: 38698
659. aspectre
12:35 PM GMT on May 13, 2010
608 rocketboy105 "We've all been watching...TCHP and SSTs and comparing them to previous years etc. But the NOAA site has that stuff archived [only] back to Jan. 2005."

NOAA has had older maps in the public access archives, and has been deleting the oldest maps as the years progress.
Haven't the slightest clue as to why; it costs manhours&money to deliberately decide upon and implement the deletions. And none to just leave the archives be.
But that's bureaucratic administrators for ya,
"Make ourselves feel important by keeping the public in the dark."
Member Since: August 21, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 4860
658. aspectre
12:16 PM GMT on May 13, 2010
A fogbow

And a glory...

...which "can only be seen when the observer is directly between the Sun and cloud"
Member Since: August 21, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 4860
653. WxLogic
11:50 AM GMT on May 13, 2010
Good morning..
Member Since: August 14, 2008 Posts: 4 Comments: 5030
652. MiamiHurricanes09
11:45 AM GMT on May 13, 2010
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

Hmmm, Interesting, I'll be on it when I come back. I'm out, have a good day.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
651. MiamiHurricanes09
11:43 AM GMT on May 13, 2010
I do not expect development just lots of rain in store for Guyana/Venezuela.



I'm out, have a great day, I will be checking in later today.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
650. cg2916
11:33 AM GMT on May 13, 2010
If this is today:



Just imagine September:

Member Since: December 21, 2007 Posts: 13 Comments: 3046
649. Tropicsweatherpr
11:27 AM GMT on May 13, 2010
Good morning from Puerto Rico. The forecast continues to be a rainy one this weekend for the PR /Virgin Islands area,90% for Saturday.

If anyone wants to participate in the question I have in my blog about which will be the big ones this upcomming season go here.

Link
Member Since: April 29, 2009 Posts: 75 Comments: 14574
648. Cavin Rawlins
11:21 AM GMT on May 13, 2010
Quoting cg2916:
Hey guys!

Just looked at the GFS shear model, it will NOT let go of heavy shear in the GOM. That's normal for this time of year, right?


yea....especially during the transition of El Nino.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
647. BenBIogger
11:19 AM GMT on May 13, 2010
NAO
Member Since: March 19, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 1421
646. cg2916
11:15 AM GMT on May 13, 2010
The Caribbean however, extremely low shear.
Member Since: December 21, 2007 Posts: 13 Comments: 3046
645. cg2916
11:15 AM GMT on May 13, 2010
Hey guys!

Just looked at the GFS shear model, it will NOT let go of heavy shear in the GOM. That's normal for this time of year, right?
Member Since: December 21, 2007 Posts: 13 Comments: 3046
644. pottery
10:59 AM GMT on May 13, 2010
The wave East of here is not looking so happy this morning...
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24653
643. pottery
10:46 AM GMT on May 13, 2010
Details are sketchy, but a gas platform has sunk off the coast of Venezuela. All 95 people were evacuated safely.
From BBC news website.
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24653
642. BahaHurican
10:41 AM GMT on May 13, 2010
I gotta go.

Have a good day, all.
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 22585
641. BahaHurican
10:38 AM GMT on May 13, 2010
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 22585
640. indianrivguy
10:16 AM GMT on May 13, 2010
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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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.