Record Atlantic SSTs continue in the hurricane Main Development Region

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 8:03 PM GMT on May 15, 2010

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Sea Surface Temperatures (SSTs) in the Atlantic's Main Development Region for hurricanes had their warmest April on record, 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 area between 10°N and 20°N, between the coast of Africa and Central America (20°W - 80°W), 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.) SSTs in the Main Development Region (10°N to 20°N and 20°W to 85°W) were an eye-opening 1.46°C above average during April. This is the third straight record warm month, and the warmest anomaly measured for any month--by a remarkable 0.2°C. The previous record warmest anomalies for the Atlantic MDR were set in June 2005 and March 2010, at 1.26°C.


Figure 1. The departure of sea surface temperature (SST) from average for May 13, 2010. Image credit: NOAA/NESDIS.

What is responsible for the high SSTs?
As I explained in detail in a post on record February SSTs in the Atlantic, the Arctic Oscillation (AO) and its close cousin, the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), are largely to blame for the record SSTs. 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. If the difference in sea-level pressure between Iceland and the Azores is small (negative NAO), this creates a weak Azores-Bermuda High, which reduces the trade winds circulating around the High. During December - February, we had the most negative AO/NAO since records began in 1950, and this caused trade winds between Africa and the Lesser Antilles Islands in the hurricane Main Development Region to slow to 1 - 2 m/s (2.2 - 4.5 mph) below average. 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 heated up significantly, relative to normal, over the winter. Negative AO/NAO conditions have been dominant much of this spring as well, resulting in further anomalous heating of the MDR waters. This heating is superimposed on the very warm global SSTs we've been seeing over the past few decades due to global warming. Global and Northern Hemisphere SSTs were the 2nd warmest on record this past December, January, and February, the warmest on record in March, and will likely be classified as the warmest or second warmest on record for April, since NASA just classified April as the warmest April on record for the globe. We are also in the warm phase of a decades-long natural oscillation in Atlantic ocean temperatures called the Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation (AMO). This warm phase began in 1995, and has been partially responsible for the high levels of hurricane activity we've seen since 1995.

What does this imply for the coming hurricane season?
The high April SST anomaly does not bode well for the coming hurricane season. The three past seasons with record warm April SST anomalies all had abnormally high numbers of intense hurricanes. Past hurricane seasons that had high March SST anomalies include 1969 (0.90°C anomaly), 2005 (1.19°C anomaly), and 1958 (0.97°C anomaly). These three years had 5, 7, and 5 intense hurricanes, respectively. Just two intense hurricanes occur in an average year. The total averaged activity for the three seasons was 15 named storms, 11 hurricanes, and 6 intense hurricanes (an average hurricane season has 10, 6, and 2.) Both 1958 and 2005 saw neutral El Niño conditions, while 1969 had a weak El Niño.

The SSTs are already as warm as we normally see in July between Africa and the Caribbean, and we have a very July-like tropical wave approaching the Lesser Antilles Islands this weekend. However, wind shear is still seasonably high, and the tropical waves coming off of Africa are still too far south to have much of a chance of developing. The GFS model is indicating that shear will start to drop over the Caribbean the last week of May, so we may have to be on the watch for tropical storms forming in the Caribbean then.

For those of you interested in a more detailed look at the early season tropical weather outlook, consult the excellent wunderblogs of StormW and Weather456. I'll be back with a new post on Monday.

Jeff Masters

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Quoting Weather456:
I'm routing for you guys


Looks pretty ominous in that image.
No sign of that from here, on the ground.
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This may be redundant but Cyclone Oz made the Weather Channel's front page:

Close call for storm chaser
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well actually heading to the Oklahoma City area to hopefully find some hail

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I'm routing for you guys

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815. Relix
Felt my first "earthquake" last night in PR, a 5.8 tremor around Moca, Puerto Rico. Was felt quite strongly here where I love. No one was injured and damages were very minor.
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hi, frequent visitor to the blog but looking for some info. Have a degree in aeronautical engineering and about to graduate in my 2nd degree in geophysics and meteorology. My girlfriend is moving to the US and I was wondering what the prospects of finding a met job in the states if im from the UK?

thanks for any help
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Quoting Stormchaser2007:
12z GFS 156 hours:



yup that is when it closes the low, really that part of the run isn't far-fetched at all.
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12z GFS 156 hours:

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Come ON Aussie.
Line and length, man. Line and length...
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Also dont take one still frame at what 384 hours and use it to say the GFS is nuts

If you look at the loop and see how the GFS develops the system in the SW Caribbean it is actually quite logical. Develops it on May 22nd

We have been discussing development around that time in the SW Caribbean and/or the EPAC for 2 weeks now. Just because part of the run may seem far-fetched doesn't mean the whole run should be discounted.
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Grandchildren are on their way over, BBL. :)
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hey all,

hanging here at a coffee shop in Abilene, Texas, going to try to do some preliminary chasing today, just to get a feel for the area. Probably wont be able to do the webcam, as my trial ran out for my tethering program. As soon as I get back I'm investing in an air-card
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I wouldnt be so quick to throw out the 12Z GFS

while 3 storms aint gonna happen, it doesnt mean we cant see development in the West Caribbean and/or the EPAC like the GFS is showing

If I remember correctly the GFS nailed both Barry in 2007 and Arthur in 2008 2 weeks before they formed, so the GFS doesnt always spit out ghost storms in May
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Afternoon,.... ww11
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Quoting Patrap:
And now a Message,..from the People who ruined the GOM


morning pat!
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Quoting pottery:

You are correct. The wave is actually inching closer every hour. And there is an awfull lot of it still out there.
Well I can't see the satellite from my phone, guess I'll see later.
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Quoting Weather456:
Pottery,

dont be disappointed the wave hasnt not reach you yet. look to ur south and east.

i'm still calling for showers for you guys.

You are correct. The wave is actually inching closer every hour. And there is an awfull lot of it still out there.
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Quoting Stormchaser2007:
Today:


72 hours from now:
Yup, I've been watching that model. I would like to see if it does play out.
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good morning everyone.
glad to hear the news of the tubing working.
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Something to keep in the back of your head.

Today:


72 hours from now:
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Pottery,

dont be disappointed the wave hasnt not reach you yet. look to ur south and east.

i'm still calling for showers for you guys.
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Quoting Patrap:
NEXRAD Radar
New Orleans, Storm Total Surface Rainfall Accumulation Range 124 NMI



I have never seen this much water in my yard...all roads flooded. Barely got back to the house with brakes. We had to have 4-5 inches over the last hour or two.
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Quoting pottery:
Weather update from here...
...the same as before. No rain, hot, humid, bright.
BAH!!
What a disapointment that wave.
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
RTLSNK what is that a sludge monster
or a new form of GOM fish


Thats nothing, you should see the new deep water guys they hired:

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Darn, can't cut the grass now :)

Thunder in this stuff also...

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Quoting taco2me61:


No Keeper thats the BP ExC after being dumped in there own Crude....

Taco :o)
Haha, lol!
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Weather update from here...
...the same as before. No rain, hot, humid, bright.
BAH!!
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NEXRAD Radar
New Orleans, Storm Total Surface Rainfall Accumulation Range 124 NMI

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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
RTLSNK what is that a sludge monster
or a new form of GOM fish


No Keeper thats the BP ExC after being dumped in there own Crude....

Taco :o)
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Quoting Ossqss:


Do you get in trouble if you googly a duck? :)

Yeah. As far as I know, that is illegal. Or in any case it ought to be.
heheheheh
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Hey StormSurgeon,
Are you ready for more rain???
I think we too could get about 2 or 3 more inches before this thing gets out of here....

Taco :o)
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RTLSNK what is that a sludge monster
or a new form of GOM fish
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Quoting pottery:

A shame, that. It's quite simple. For instance-
..the bowler runs in from somewhere around mid-off (to the right hander), and sends a return-swing delivery outside off-stump. The batsman attempts to meet it with a dead bat (!!), and is caught by a flying third-man, long and deep.
Simple really........
?????????
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Quoting StormSurgeon:


Heeeeey Taco. Just jumped back in to mix a few days ago. Not raining at the moment here at Cottage Hill and Hillcrest but the t'storms are all around (as you know).


I saw where you were at the Island Yesterday and no Tar Balls...

I was there Friday evening and they had some crews cleaning an area just past the public beach area going west and would not let anyone walk that way untill it was cleaned....
Other than that I have not seen any for over a week now. I did report a Bird that had washed up on the west end of the Island and they are testing it to see what it died from....
It is pretty sad on how this is playing out right now....

Anyway "Aicd Flashback Uh"
Now thats funny I tell ya.....

Taco :o)
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nola.com reporting now as well

Tube inserted into pipe and capturing some of the leaking oil


By The Times-Picayune
May 16, 2010, 11:50AM

British Petroleum has successfully inserted a tube into the broken pipe at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico and is collecting some, but not all of the leaking oil, officials said.

The Joint Information Center reported that the riser insertion tube tool was successfully tested and inserted into the leaking riser, capturing some amounts of oil and gas, but the test was halted temporarily when the tube was dislodged.

The JIC -- which includes federal agencies as well as BP officials -- said that "While this is disappointing, it is not unexpected given the challenging operating environment."
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Thanks Pat, sounds somewhat encouraging. Hopefully, we'll get this oil mess cleaned up before storm season arrives.
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Quoting Patrap:

DATE: May 16, 2010 11:45:16 CST
Update on Riser Insertion Tube Tool progress



Deepwater Horizon Incident
Joint Information Center

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

ROBERT, La. - The Unified Area Command for the response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill continues to advance multiple subsea options to contain and ultimately stop the flow of oil from the MC 252 well in the Gulf of Mexico.

Overnight the Riser Insertion Tube Tool was successfully tested and inserted into the leaking riser, capturing some amounts of oil and gas. The oil was stored on board the Discoverer Enterprise drill ship 5,000 feet above on the water's surface, and natural gas was burned through a flare system on board the ship.

The test was halted temporarily when the tube was dislodged. While this is disappointing, it is not unexpected given the challenging operating environment.

Technicians have fully inspected the system and have re-inserted the tool.

The tool is fashioned from a 4-inch pipe and is inserted into the leaking riser, from which the majority of the flow is coming. While not collecting all of the leaking oil, this tool is an important step in reducing the amount of oil being released into Gulf waters.

The procedure - never attempted before at such depths - involves inserting a 5-foot length of the specifically-designed tool into the end of the existing, damaged riser from where the oil and gas is leaking. In a procedure approved by federal agencies and the Federal On Scene Coordinator, methanol will also be flowed into the riser to help prevent the formation of gas crystals, known as hydrates. Gas and oil will then flow to the surface to the Discoverer Enterprise drillship.

The Enterprise has the capability to separate the oil, gas and water mixture safely and eventually store or offload the recovered oil onto another vessel.

We will continue to provide updates as they become available.

For information about the response effort, visit www.deepwaterhorizonresponse.com.
This is the best news I have heard so far!
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Quoting pottery:

A shame, that. It's quite simple. For instance-
..the bowler runs in from somewhere around mid-off (to the right hander), and sends a return-swing delivery outside off-stump. The batsman attempts to meet it with a dead bat (!!), and is caught by a flying third-man, long and deep.
Simple really........


Do you get in trouble if you googly a duck? :)
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775. Sounds a little more optimistic and positive there, Pat.
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
models are meant to be use for guidance purposes only and donot depict final outcome to one single event things can and will change

most i go out is 120 hrs for future look
most i go out for current look is 72 hrs

and 144hrs is max after that it is normally useless

Correct, anymore than 3 day/72hrs is just useless
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15935

DATE: May 16, 2010 11:45:16 CST
Update on Riser Insertion Tube Tool progress




Deepwater Horizon Incident
Joint Information Center

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

ROBERT, La. - The Unified Area Command for the response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill continues to advance multiple subsea options to contain and ultimately stop the flow of oil from the MC 252 well in the Gulf of Mexico.

Overnight the Riser Insertion Tube Tool was successfully tested and inserted into the leaking riser, capturing some amounts of oil and gas. The oil was stored on board the Discoverer Enterprise drill ship 5,000 feet above on the water's surface, and natural gas was burned through a flare system on board the ship.

The test was halted temporarily when the tube was dislodged. While this is disappointing, it is not unexpected given the challenging operating environment.

Technicians have fully inspected the system and have re-inserted the tool.

The tool is fashioned from a 4-inch pipe and is inserted into the leaking riser, from which the majority of the flow is coming. While not collecting all of the leaking oil, this tool is an important step in reducing the amount of oil being released into Gulf waters.

The procedure - never attempted before at such depths - involves inserting a 5-foot length of the specifically-designed tool into the end of the existing, damaged riser from where the oil and gas is leaking. In a procedure approved by federal agencies and the Federal On Scene Coordinator, methanol will also be flowed into the riser to help prevent the formation of gas crystals, known as hydrates. Gas and oil will then flow to the surface to the Discoverer Enterprise drillship.

The Enterprise has the capability to separate the oil, gas and water mixture safely and eventually store or offload the recovered oil onto another vessel.

We will continue to provide updates as they become available.

For information about the response effort, visit www.deepwaterhorizonresponse.com.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
LOL, I hope that will change after June 22nd.
models are meant to be use for guidance purposes only and donot depict final outcome to one single event things can and will change

most i go out is 120 hrs for future look
most i go out for current look is 72 hrs

and 144hrs is max after that it is normally useless
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773. JRRP
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:


G = ghost
F = forecast
S = system

jajajaajajajaa
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 5799
772. JRRP
Quoting stormhank:
Thanks JRRP

always brother...
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 5799
Quoting StormSurgeon:


That's cool, besides, every time I look at those model runs I have an acid flashback....LOL.
Lol.
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:


G = ghost
F = forecast
S = system
LOL, I hope that will change after June 22nd.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Nevermind, I was informed by someone. Thanks either way.


That's cool, besides, every time I look at those model runs I have an acid flashback....LOL.
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About

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