A record quiet start to the 2010 Northern Hemisphere tropical cyclone season

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:42 PM GMT on August 12, 2010

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The remnants of Tropical Depression Five have re-organized this morning, and the storm is pounding Southeast Louisiana with heavy rains. Radar imagery out of New Orleans shows that the remains of TD 5 have have formed some respectable low-level spiral bands that have brought heavy rains in excess of five inches in some areas. However, with the circulation center now moving over land, not much further development can occur.


Figure 1. Morning radar image of TD Five's remains.

Why so quiet in the Atlantic?
The Tropical Atlantic is quiet, and there are no threat areas to discuss today. The Invest 93 system we were tracking has been destroyed by dry air and wind shear. There are a couple of long-range threats suggested by some of the models--the GFS model predicts a tropical depression could form off the coast of Mississippi six days from now, and the NOGAPS model thinks something could get going in the Gulf of Mexico's Bay of Campeche seven days from now. Neither of these possibilities are worthy of concern at present. Overall, it's been a surprisingly quiet August, considering the pre-season predictions of a hyperactive season. According the National Hurricane Center, this hurricane season has been exactly average so far. There have been three named storms and one hurricane as of August 12. The average date of formation of the third named storm is August 13. One hurricane typically forms by August 10. One reason for this year's inactivity may be an unusual number of upper-level low pressure systems that have paraded across the tropical Atlantic. These lows, also called Tropical Upper Tropospheric Trough (TUTT) lows, tend to bring high wind shear that inhibits tropical cyclone formation. The other major factor appears to be that vertical instability has been unusually low in the Atlantic over the past month. Instability is measured as the difference in temperature between the surface and the top of the troposphere (the highest altitude that thunderstorm tops can penetrate to.) If the surface is very warm and the top of the troposphere is cold, an unstable atmosphere results, which helps to enhance thunderstorm updrafts and promote hurricane development. Since SSTs in the Atlantic are at record highs, enhancing instability, something else must be going on. Dry air can act to reduce instability, and it appears that an unusually dry atmosphere over the Atlantic this month is responsible for the lack of instability.


Figure 2. Vertical instability (in °C) over the Caribbean (left) and tropical Atlantic between the Lesser Antilles Islands and coast of Africa (right) in 2010. Normal instability is the black line, and this year's instability levels are in blue. The atmosphere became much more stable than normal in both regions at the end of July. This lack of instability also extends to the Gulf of Mexico and North Atlantic Ocean between Europe and North America, as well as the Western Pacific east of the Philippines, and the South Indian Ocean. Image credit: NOAA/CIRA.

A record quiet start to the 2010 tropical cyclone season in the Northern Hemisphere
What is really odd about this year, though, is the lack of tropical cyclone activity across the entire Northern Hemisphere. Usually, if one ocean basin is experiencing a quiet season, one of the other ocean basins is going bonkers. That is not the case this year. Over in the Eastern Pacific, there have been five named storms and two hurricanes. The average is seven named storms and four hurricanes for this point in the season. This year's quiet season is not too surprising, since there is a moderate La Niña event underway, and La Niña conditions usually supresses Eastern Pacific hurricane activity. But over in the Western Pacific, which usually generates more tropical cyclones than any ocean basin on Earth, it has been a near-record quiet season. Just four named storms have occurred in the West Pacific this year, and the average for this date is eleven. Only one typhoon season has had fewer named storms this late in the season--1998, with just three. The total number of named storms in the Northern Hemisphere thus far this year is fifteen, which is the fewest since reliable records began in 1948. Second place belongs to 1983 and 1957, with eighteen named storms. According to an email I received from NOAA hurricane researcher Gabe Vecchi, the lack of tropical cyclones so far this year in the Northern Hemisphere is between a 1-in-80 and 1-in-100 year event.

So, what is causing this quiet tropical cyclone season? One possibility is that since Northern Hemisphere land areas have heated up to record temperatures this summer, this has created strong rising motion over the continents. This rising motion must be compensated by strong sinking motion over the adjacent oceans in order to conserve mass. Sinking air causes drying and an increase in stability. Another possibility is that the unusual jet stream configuration that is responsible for the Russia heat wave and record flooding in Pakistan is also bringing dry, stable air to the Northern Hemisphere's tropical cyclone breeding grounds. It is also possible that climate change is causing the reduction in tropical cyclone activity, for a variety of complex reasons. Computer simulations of a future warmer climate generally show a reduction in global number of tropical cyclones (though the strongest storms get stronger), and it is possible we are seeing a preview of that future climate. Or, this year's quietness may simply be natural variability. It will be interesting to see when the Russian heat wave breaks if vertical instability over the Atlantic increases back to normal levels. Current forecasts from the GFS and ECMWF models project the Russian heat wave to break late next week.

Moscow's air remains clear; coolest temperatures in two weeks
Moscow's winds remained favorable for keeping smoke away from the city today, and temperatures "cooled" to at Moscow's Domodedovo airport to 33°C (91°F)--the lowest maximum temperature since a high of 32°C (90°F) was recorded on July 30. Moscow's airport has reached a maximum temperature of 30°C (86°F) or higher for 35 consecutive days now (at Moscow's official observing site, the Moscow Observatory, this string is 30 days.) Moscow's average high temperature for August 12 is 20°C (68°F). Moscow's high temperatures have averaged 15°C (27°F) above average so far this August--a truly extraordinary anomaly for a country so famous for its notorious cold weather. The latest forecast for Moscow calls for high temperatures of 30 - 33°C (86 - 91°F) Thursday through Monday. This is still 23°F above normal, but will be a welcome change from the extreme heat of the past two weeks. Long range forecasts from the ECMWF and GFS models continue to suggest that a series of troughs of low pressure will begin to attack the ridge of high pressure anchored over Russia beginning on Wednesday, bringing cooler temperatures just 5°C (8°F) above average to Russia late next week. By ten days from now, the ECMWF model shows a strong trough of low pressure over Moscow, and a end to the Great Russian Heat Wave of 2010.

Next update
I'll have an update Friday morning.

Jeff Masters

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Quoting FLdewey:
If you experience natural variability for more than 4 hours please consult a doctor.


Yeah, man...it's dangerous and it supposedly hurts1
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 9922
87. JRRP

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Quoting Eagle101:
Good Morning Patrick...the radar presentation is looking quite intense there. Unfortunately, it appears that the remnants of TD5 have slowed significantly. Let's hope folks took heed of the forecast for some intense precipitation this system is likely to produce.

v/r

Jon


The motion has gone NULL the past few hours.

But hey,,

Saints vs Pats at 6:30 CST.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 423 Comments: 127804
12z GFS 144 hours develops the tropical wave currently over Central Africa. It already looks like a tropical depression(on the GFS) and it only was a couple of hours over water.



By 192 hours we are dealing with our first Cape Verde hurricane.


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Red Sky at Night
no cyclones in sight

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For the African interested wunder bloggers..

NEXSAT African Hi-Rez tropical view,loop
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 423 Comments: 127804
Also got to remember, not the number of storms that count.. it's the power of said storms. We had a 947 mb Category 2 hurricane in June, that's not 'normal', storms since have either ran out of time or plagued by ULLs or the TUTT. It's simply a matter of time the CV season is going to squat out a big ole one, and guess what the GFS is starting to show now? Don't see any ULLs out by the CV islands, not much dry air either now thanks to 93L. Also, out of the 5 TC's we've had so far this year, 4 have been in the GOMEX. Tells ya something don't it?
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 23880
7.2 Earthquake reported in Ecuador this morning.


Living in Peru (blog)
Strong Quake Shakes Ecuador
CRIENGLISH.com - ‎42 minutes ago‎
No tsunami warning was issued after the earthquake. The US Geological Survey initially put the temblor at magnitude 6.7, and then revised it to 7.2, ...
Magnitude-6.9 quake shakes Ecuador Arab News
Ecuador rocked by 6.9 quake, no major damage Reuters Africa
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80. JRRP
Quoting wunderkidcayman:
JRRP from your post on the last blog what model was that thanks

GFS 925mb
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Good Morning Patrick...the radar presentation is looking quite intense there. Unfortunately, it appears that the remnants of TD5 have slowed significantly. Let's hope folks took heed of the forecast for some intense precipitation this system is likely to produce.

v/r

Jon
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NEXSAT Global Mosaics
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 423 Comments: 127804
Red Sky in the Morning
The IR looks boring
lol
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Quoting DestinJeff:
So, in fact, this season has been a dud up to this point (especially relative to expectations)

I like this from the entry:

It is also possible that climate change is causing the reduction in tropical cyclone activity, for a variety of complex reasons. Computer simulations of a future warmer climate generally show a reduction in global number of tropical cyclones (though the strongest storms get stronger), and it is possible we are seeing a preview of that future climate. Or, this year's quietness may simply be natural variability

I'll go with natural variability.
iam sticking with my too much heat approach and doc appears to be thinking that way as well and maybe some others we are at the half time getting ready for the start lets finish the game
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So, what is causing this quiet tropical cyclone season? One possibility is that since Northern Hemisphere land areas have heated up to record temperatures this summer, this has created strong rising motion over the continents. Another possibility is that the unusual jet stream configuration that is responsible for the Russia heat wave and record flooding in Pakistan is also bringing dry, stable air to the Northern Hemisphere's tropical cyclone breeding grounds. It is also possible that climate change is causing the reduction in tropical cyclone activity, for a variety of complex reasons.

Breaking for lunch....Wow. I have too much respect for Dr. M to suggest that he might be stretching a bit(not as to the Atlantic Basin but as to the entire Northern Hemisphere)on what may be causing the "global" lull so far but I am not convinced that all these factors (GW-Russia Heat Wave-Continental Heat issues) are somehow combining at the same time to suppress cyclone activity in the NH. However, it is very weird to have so little activity in the E-Pac/Pacific side at this time of the year........."If" the Atlantic Season turns out to be supressed as well (and we will not know that until we get to the end of November) in spite of La Nina conditions, lots of papers and analysis will be written about this year and Dr. M may be on to something.........The issues are just too complex at the moment to get a handle on it......Just have to wait to see what happens on the Atlantic side of the equation but I am not taking any bets at the moment until it's over.........One massive Cat 4 or 5 making landfall on a populated region is all that it takes regardless of the ultimate outcome on the numbers.
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TD..all I can say..iz

ooofh,,dats a Hotsui
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 423 Comments: 127804
Quoting zicoille:
It's time to get a big cat 5 ! We are waiting for since a long time here in the caribbean ...
It's time to begin this record season !


Proof that school's still out in some areas!
Member Since: August 25, 2006 Posts: 1 Comments: 3022
Quoting HurricaneGeek:

Also,

There was one storm that got designated a TD while still over the continent. I want to say it was Christina or Christine. I can't remember.

Interesting Fact: Hurricane Season 1979 had 26 TDs but only 9 named storms.

Interesting. Christine was a TD at 14° W, and a TS at 30° W.
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93.2 °F
Partly Cloudy
Humidity: 68%
Dew Point: 81 °F
Wind: Calm
Wind Gust: 0.0 mph
Pressure: 29.83 in (Steady)
Heat Index: 114 °F
Visibility: 7.0 miles
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NEXSAT GOM Animated Hi-Rez Loop
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 423 Comments: 127804
Interesting post by Doctor Masters. Would be interesting to see what happens to activity when the Russian heatwave breaks down.
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Quoting BadHurricane:
In other words, scientists have no idea what was going on. So typical ... Why pay them at all?


Yeah, let's go back to "Red sky at morning, sailor take warning, red sky at night sailor's delight"

Do that for a while and tell nme how it works out for you...in the meantime I'll pay attention to the guys who do this for a living...they may be wrong soemtimes but I do tend to get a few days warning before any major changes...LOL
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 9922
I agree that the season's peak has been pushed a couple of weeks from Sept 10th to the 24th- I am saying this only because I do believe the season will get under way later than anticpated and will end 'not with a whimper' by a long shot. When the TUTTs diminish we will wish they hadn't.
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NEXRAD Radar
New Orleans, Composite Reflectivity Range 124 NMI



Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 423 Comments: 127804
JRRP from your post on the last blog what model was that thanks
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59. Wots
Hello everyone!

I have been watching the full disk GOES East Water Vapor loops, (I live in S. America) and noticed more moisture from the ITCZ going south than north. Is that the usual pattern? Can it be related to the lack of activity?

Thanks!
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Quoting zicoille:
It's time to get a big cat 5 ! We are waiting for since a long time here in the caribbean ...
It's time to begin this record season !


Dean and Felix weren't enough? Those guys where only a little under 3 years ago.
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Possible Sub-tropical spinnage near 36.92N and 68.86W.
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Good Morning WU...

Senior Chief: Great update this morning...thank you. I understand your frustration. While I am not a Met, or even a Scientist (just a lowly Engineer), I think it is import for folks to understand that it is important to stand back and look at the big picture. When you have most of the "signals" present to indicate an active season is in the making, you cannot simply ignore them just because we have a "slow start." I applaud the efforts of the experts to point out what may be coming. What we must keep in mind as well, is that there are still processes that are not completely understood. With each season, knowledge is gained.

But, no forecaster or model is 100 percent accurate all the time. It is way too early to call the season's forecast a "bust." If it turns out, at the end of the season, that the forecasted numbers do not manifest themselves, then the experts will have the opportunity to gain more understanding of the processes to increase forecast accuracy in the future.

Even the experts learn something new every season. For the rest of us, the most important take away, as Patrick keeps hammering home, and rightfully so, is be prepared!

For the non-Mets on the board, we have an incredible opportunity to become educated on these processes, without ever having to step into a classroom. I would encourage those who are truly fascinated by tropical systems, as I am, to take advantage of this rare opportunity to become better educated by the likes of the Senior Chief. He is certainly not obligated to do what he does. His passion to share his knowledge is rare. So, I would like to say, thank you Senior Chief, for taking the time, and making the effort to educate us. We do truly appreciate your efforts.

Very Respectfully,

Jon
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Quoting Patrap:
I always said,,the Numbers forecast is MOOT.

They cant tell me when,where,or how strong. So if the powers that do the er,"forecast" spent one tenths the money on educating the Public as to Hurricanes and their destructive potential..we would ALL be better served than the ego's that produce such dribble.
There you go again, talking sense to the senseless.
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In other words, scientists have no idea what was going on. So typical ... Why pay them at all?
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51. Floodman 11:17 AM CDT on August 12, 2010


I agree with Sgt. Hulka for sho.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 423 Comments: 127804
I always said,,the Numbers forecast is MOOT.

They cant tell me when,where,or how strong. So if the powers that do the er,"forecast" spent one tenths the money on educating the Public as to Hurricanes and their destructive potential..we would ALL be better served than the ego's that produce such dribble.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 423 Comments: 127804
Thanks, Doc!

I wanted to address a comment I made to a number of people here from the last blog in particular VAbeachhurricanes:


Quoting VAbeachhurricanes:


Look, me predicting 11-5-3 (all above average) im not saying this season is a bust at all. I am only saying stop saying storms are guaranteed to happen! Nothing is a guarantee, being under 18 storms still isnt, but being above average season isnt either. People need to relax and analyze things that are out there now, not what they are guaranteeing will be there in 2 or 3 weeks.


I agree; we need to consider climatology and the current conditions; not a lock, and no promises, but we're looking at a very possible major outbreak in the tropics sooner than later...2-3 weeks looks plausible, based on anyone of a number of things, but I think Levi32 summed it up very well yesterday in his Tropical Tidbit (sorry, Levi, but that still makes me think of diced pineapple and mango).

That having been said, there's still a chance that the season does go belly up...I think we'd learn more about hurricane forecasting and climatology if it was a bust, but the smart monety is still on some nasties.

What happens here is that people get too caught up in the predictions and not in the chagning environment; when the good ones (StormW and Co start to amend their forecasts based on conditions folks get angry about it...the NASCAR comment was directed at them...weather prediciton is not now, nor is it likely to become anytime soon, an exact science. Listen, pay attention and be prepared, those of you who live close enough to a coast for a hurricane to become a life and death struggle; for the rest of you, "Lighten up, Frances"
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 9922
Thanks Dr. Masters. I pose this question, Can any of this variability be related to the very dramatic change from El Nino to La Nina conditions over the past 6 months?
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39. Chucktown 11:09 AM CDT on August 12, 2010

Thanks for reposting that Chucktown...proper perspctive is always a good thing.
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A Perseid meteor photographed in Aug. 2009 by Pete Lawrence of Selsey, UK.

Planets Align for the Perseid Meteor Shower

August 5, 2010: You know it's a good night when a beautiful alignment of planets is the second best thing that's going to happen.

Thursday, August 12th, is such a night.

The show begins at sundown when Venus, Saturn, Mars and the crescent Moon pop out of the western twilight in tight conjunction. All four heavenly objects will fit within a circle about 10 degrees in diameter, beaming together through the dusky colors of sunset. No telescope is required to enjoy this naked-eye event: sky map.
Perseids 2010 (Pete Lawrence, 200px)
A Perseid meteor photographed in Aug. 2009 by Pete Lawrence of Selsey, UK. [more]

The planets will hang together in the western sky until 10 pm or so. When they leave, following the sun below the horizon, you should stay, because that is when the Perseid meteor shower begins. From 10 pm until dawn, meteors will flit across the starry sky in a display that's even more exciting than a planetary get-together.

The Perseid meteor shower is caused by debris from Comet Swift-Tuttle. Every 133 years the huge comet swings through the inner solar system and leaves behind a trail of dust and gravel. When Earth passes through the debris, specks of comet-stuff hit the atmosphere at 140,000 mph and disintegrate in flashes of light. These meteors are called Perseids because they fly out of the constellation Perseus.
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That's called climatology of the hurricane season.
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Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30157
Weather Channel experts say conditions are changeing for more activity.They said the ull wont be in play like they have been.
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So, at the end, we don't know what's happening. I think the first week of August, always was quiet, normally I see things heating up the second half of the month. Let's see. If we don't see anything in the second half of August, this end the hurricane season, and we could be before the great prediction blonder of history....
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Quoting srada:
From my point of view, NC has in the past years have at LEAST a TD or TS around this time of the year..its always when school starts and kids have to make up those days at the end of the year..so I never really look at June or July as the hurricane season, especially not for our area, so do I think the hurricane season is finished..by no means especially for the east coast.

SN: Great Synoposis Levi..so the operational GFS is picking up on the east coast storm too? For long range predictions, this one might pan out


Thanks. We'll see...the pattern is one where we should watch out but nothing is guaranteed yet. We still might have to watch near the coast next week before we even have to worry about that wave as well.
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When Dr. Masters is surprised by events I worry.
I rely on his posts for the latest and most informed and direct factual news.
Too many possible scenerios or reasons for me to digest.
I guess I'll go to work
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Quoting chilliam:
"it's been a surprisingly quiet August, considering the pre-season predictions of a hyperactive season."

The major forecasters have over-predicted every year since 2005. It's pretty obvious what the problem is. Everyone's models are including the data from the very busy 2005 and giving it far too much weight. The predictions for 2005 were far below what it was ... because their models were based on previous average years. Now the models include the one super busy year, and they all over-predict.

Forecasters still don't know what they're doing. It's all just averages of previous years, and they completely miss the nuances that vary from year to year.

2009 was predicted to be a slow year by pretty much everyone. And it was.
Member Since: August 9, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 114
Repost from previous blog since it was right when the new blog was issued:

Gotta chime in here about some of this forecasting going on in here lately. We can look at the MJO, the Indian Ocean, the TUTT's, La Nina, etc. until we're blue in the face. We all know it is very favorable in the Atlantic Basin, but until something of note comes along, it's like beating a dead horse. Credibility is something I have to live by as a TV met. My viewers don't care about what is happening with La Nina or the wave we're watching coming off Africa (its 2 weeks away), but that is the "beauty" of forecasting hurricanes and tropical weather. Everyone keeps saying how we'll be caught off guard if we continue believing that this season is going to be a bust, while on the contrary, hurricanes are the one weather disaster that is easy to predict. Floods, tornadoes, severe weather give us minutes to prepare for and react. When there is a hurricane bearing down on an area, we know its there, we can see it and we usually have days to get ready and react. I would love to come on air and tell everyone about how favorable things are out there, but it does me no good, especially if things don't pan out. Just remember the credibility factor when we try to figure out what's gonna happen. The heart of the season is upon us, try to take it day by day instead of what is supposed to happen in the coming months.
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Regarding "recent average" number of storms: why do NOAA, CSU, etc. use averages from 1950-2000? It's 2010. At some point, shouldn'tn they start using 1950-2009, or 1960-2009 as the baseline?
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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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