CSU and TSR predict an extremely active 2011 Atlantic hurricane season

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 12:54 PM GMT on December 09, 2010

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A continuation of the pattern of much above-average Atlantic hurricane activity we've seen since 1995 is on tap for 2011, according to the latest seasonal forecast issued Wednesday by Dr. Phil Klotzbach and Dr. Bill Gray of Colorado State University (CSU). They are calling for 17 named storms, 9 hurricanes, and 5 intense hurricanes. An average season has 10 - 11 named storms, 6 hurricanes, and 2 intense hurricanes. The new forecast is a very aggressive one, since only six seasons since 1851 have had as many as 17 named storms; 19 seasons have had 9 or more hurricanes. The 2011 forecast calls for a much above-average chance of a major hurricane hitting the U.S., both along the East Coast (49% chance, 31% chance is average) and the Gulf Coast (48% chance, 30% chance is average). The Caribbean is forecast to have a 62% chance of seeing at least one major hurricane (42% is average.) Five years with similar pre-season November atmospheric and oceanic conditions were selected as "analogue" years that the 2011 hurricane season may resemble: 2008, 1999, 1989, 1961, and 1956. The average activity for these years was 12 named storms, 7 hurricanes, and 4 major hurricanes.

The forecasters cited several reasons for their forecast of a much above-average season:

1) Unusually warm sea surface temperatures continue in the tropical Atlantic this fall, an indication that the active hurricane period we have been in since 1995 will continue (in technical terms, the positive phase of the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation, AMO, will continue.) SSTs in Atlantic Main Development Region (MDR) for hurricanes, from the Caribbean eastwards to the coast of Africa, were at a record high in October (November data are not yet available.)

2) Hurricane activity in the Atlantic is lowest during El Niño years and highest during La Niña or neutral years. This occurs because El Niño events tend to increase westerly upper-level winds over the tropical Atlantic, bringing high wind shear harmful for hurricanes. The CSU team notes that we are currently experiencing moderate to strong La Niña conditions, with an unusual amount of cool water present in the top 300 meters of the Equatorial Pacific Ocean off the coast of South America. Since 1979, only eight years have had similar amounts of cool water in November. The hurricane seasons that followed each of those eight years were unable to transition to El Niño conditions. Thus, the CSU team expects that we will have neutral or La Niña conditions in place for the Atlantic hurricane season of 2011, which should act to keep wind shear values average to below average, enhancing hurricane activity. Of the 16 El Niño/La Niña computer models that made November predictions for the July-August-September 2011 portion of hurricane season (Figure 1), only 4 (25%) predicted that El Niño would arrive.

How accurate are the December forecasts?
The CSU real-time December forecasts did not shown any skill over the period 1992 - 2007, so the forecast scheme was overhauled and a new scheme implemented for the forecasts made for the 2008 - 2010 hurricane seasons. This new scheme showed some decent skill in those three years, with skill levels 18%, 10%, and 30% above chance for predicting the number of named storms, hurricanes, and intense hurricanes, respectively. Still, three years is too short of a time period to evaluate the skill of these December forecasts, and we should view the latest forecast as an experimental research product. Last year's December forecast for the 2010 hurricane season predicted 13.5 named storms, 7 hurricanes, and 4 intense hurricanes. The actual numbers were 19 named storms, 12 hurricanes, and 5 intense hurricanes.


Figure 1. Forecasts of El Niño conditions by 20 computer models, made in November 2010. The longest range forecasts for July-August-September (JAS) at the right side of the image show that 4 models predict weak El Niño conditions, 7 predict neutral conditions, and 5 predict a weak to moderate La Niña. El Niño conditions are defined as occurring when sea surface temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific off the coast of South America (the "Niño 3.4 region) rise to 0.5°C above average (top red line). La Niña conditions occur when SSTs in this region fall to 0.5°C below average. Image credit: Columbia University.

2011 Atlantic hurricane season forecast from Tropical Storm Risk, Inc.
The British private forecasting firm Tropical Storm Risk, Inc. (TSR), issued their 2011 Atlantic hurricane season forecast on Monday. They are also calling for a very active year: 15.6 named storms, 8.4 hurricanes, and 4 intense hurricanes. TSR predicts a 66% chance of an above-average hurricane season, 22% chance of a near-normal season, and only a 12% chance of a below normal season. TSR bases their December forecast on predictions that sea surface temperatures next fall in the tropical Atlantic will be above about 0.3°C above average, and trade wind speeds will be about 0.7 m/s slower than average. The trade wind speed prediction is based on a forecast for a weak La Niña in August-September 2011.

I like how TSR puts their skill level right next to the forecast numbers: 2% skill above chance at forecasting the number of named storms, 1% skill for hurricanes, and 7% skill for intense hurricanes. That's not much skill, and really, we have to wait until the June 1 forecasts by CSU, NOAA, and TSR to get a forecast with reasonable skill.

Comparing 2005 and 2010 steering currents
The U.S. got extremely fortunate during the 2010 hurricane season that the steering currents carried most of the storms out to sea, or forced them to the south. A very graphic way of looking at this is to compare the amount of rain that fell due to tropical cyclones in the Atlantic in 2005 versus 2010 (Figure 2.) The U.S. received a direct hit only from Tropical Storm Bonnie, which hit South Florida as a minimal 40 mph tropical storm and caused no significant damage. TSR is predicting that this luck will not hold in 2010; they project that five named storms will hit the U.S., with two of these being hurricanes.


Figure 2. Rainfall amounts due to all Atlantic tropical cyclones in 2005 and 2010, as measured by NASA's TRMM satellite. Steering currents in 2010 tended to recurve many storms out to sea between the Caribbean and Bermuda, due to a large number of unusually strong troughs of low pressure moving off the U.S. East Coast.

Weekend winter storm for Eastern U.S.
The latest 06Z (1am EST) set of computer model forecasts for this weekend's winter storm over the Midwest and Eastern U.S. point towards a more northerly path for the storm, bringing the axis of heaviest snow through Wisconsin and Michigan. There is still a great deal of uncertainty in the predicted timing and strength of the storm, but a renewed blast of cold air Monday and Tuesday over the Southeast U.S. is still highly likely in the wake of the storm.

Jeff Masters

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Quoting P451:
Imagine if #1 and #2 linked up.



Wow... We'd be talking about a 3-4' blizzard in the major metropolitan area.

its possible they will
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Hello all you on this blog!


I know you are excited about all the snow and blizzards, etc
that is going on but for me and my SE Florida Christmas I would rather it be warm,
not record breaking Cold in December!

Have a great weekend everyone!


"I'm Dreaming of a Tropical Christmas,
Just like the ones I use to know...."

Member Since: August 29, 2005 Posts: 297 Comments: 40882
Meant to say Patrap !! Thanks
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Thanks IKE, KOTG, and P451 for all the great visuals.....another long night in southeast.
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Quoting KerryInNOLA:
Let me ask the AGW people this simple question. If you could have your way what year, what decade, what century would you consider to be your ideal for future weather if you could have your way? You can't answer it because there is no ideal year. These cycles are what is normal. Don't forget it.


Good evening everyone. I hope everyone is doing well.

Kerry
"You can't answer it because there is no ideal year." This is correct. So why ask the question? Does it add credence to the side that does not believe in AGW? No, it only distracts from the actual debate.
This question is not reasoned nor is it a very logical question to ask. You ask people to pick a time in the Earth's history that they think is the ideal climate for the Earth's future climate. You can get many opinions on this. Some like it hot and some like it cold. What is just right for you may not be what I consider to be just right. Actually, the question is irrelevant. There is a question that everyone should be asking. What is the ideal climate to support 9,000,000,000 people on Earth? This question is relevant because we are soon approaching this many people on Earth.

"You can't answer it because there is no ideal year." This is correct. So why ask the question? Does it add credence to the side that does not believe in AGW? No, it only distracts from the actual debate. Is this a logical approach to answering the questions concerning AGW or if it even exists? In my opinion, no.
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Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127636
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<
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Quoting CybrTeddy:


2010 was not overhyped, the general public and the news assumes that if a prediction says season will be active it automatically means US landfalls when this is completely untrue.

Alex


Earl directly hitting the islands.


Igor while making landfall in Canada.


Hurricane Karl of course


Hurricane Paula hit Cuba.


Hurricane Richard hit Belize as a Category 2.


Hurricane Tomas of course..


7 Hurricanes either directly hit land this year or made landfall. Karl hit the Gulf Coast of Mexico as a major and Earl hit the islands as a Major. There was absolutely nothing that was hyped by CSU or TSR who came out with the 2011 predictions also and they were right when they released their first predictions for 2010 in Dec. 09.. that 2010 would be active and 2011 will most likely be very active. I think its just plain wrong to call 2010 overhyped when there was landfalling major hurricanes and more storms predicted than what CSU even predicted. Just my two cents of course.
Cool pics Ted. Thanks for posting them..It was quite a year, and the U.S. did not have any hurricane landfalls.
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 20529
Quoting Neapolitan:


See, this is the problem with the false equivalence being built up around the GW debate: theory adherents quote actual climate scientists, while "skeptics" quote TV game show hosts, then sit back, smile smugly, and say, "See? Both sides have equally valid arguments!"

Oy, vey... ;-)

"Controversy equalizes fools and wise men - and the fools know it."
Oliver Wendell Holmes
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Quoting Patrap:


SEL4

URGENT - IMMEDIATE BROADCAST REQUESTED
TORNADO WATCH NUMBER 764
NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK
315 PM CST SAT DEC 11 2010

THE NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER HAS ISSUED A
TORNADO WATCH FOR PORTIONS OF

PARTS OF NORTHEAST LOUISIANA
LARGE PART OF CENTRAL AND WESTERN MISSISSIPPI

EFFECTIVE THIS SATURDAY AFTERNOON AND EVENING FROM 315 PM UNTIL
900 PM CST.

TORNADOES...HAIL TO 0.5 INCH IN DIAMETER...THUNDERSTORM WIND
GUSTS TO 70 MPH...AND DANGEROUS LIGHTNING ARE POSSIBLE IN THESE
AREAS.

THE TORNADO WATCH AREA IS APPROXIMATELY ALONG AND 65 STATUTE
MILES EAST AND WEST OF A LINE FROM 40 MILES SOUTH OF NATCHEZ
MISSISSIPPI TO 30 MILES EAST NORTHEAST OF GREENWOOD MISSISSIPPI.
FOR A COMPLETE DEPICTION OF THE WATCH SEE THE ASSOCIATED WATCH
OUTLINE UPDATE (WOUS64 KWNS WOU4).

REMEMBER...A TORNADO WATCH MEANS CONDITIONS ARE FAVORABLE FOR
TORNADOES AND SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS IN AND CLOSE TO THE WATCH
AREA. PERSONS IN THESE AREAS SHOULD BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR
THREATENING WEATHER CONDITIONS AND LISTEN FOR LATER STATEMENTS
AND POSSIBLE WARNINGS.

DISCUSSION...THUNDERSTORMS ARE INCREASING IN NUMBER AND INTENSITY
AHEAD OF STRONG COLD FRONT MOVING EWD ACROSS AR INTO NRN LA. AIR
MASS THOUGH ONLY MARGINALLY UNSTABLE...GIVEN THE STRONG SHEAR
PROFILES AND APPROACH OF VIGOROUS UPPER JET...WILL BE SUFFICIENTLY
UNSTABLE TO SUPPORT LOW TOPPED SUPERCELLS AND A TORNADO THREAT. IN
ADDITION DAMAGING WINDS WILL BECOME AN INCREASING THREAT AS STORMS
EVOLVE INTO A LINE BY THIS EVENING ALONG THE COLD FRONT AS IT MOVES
SEWD ACROSS THE WATCH.

AVIATION...TORNADOES AND A FEW SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS WITH HAIL
SURFACE AND ALOFT TO 0.5 INCH. EXTREME TURBULENCE AND SURFACE
WIND GUSTS TO 60 KNOTS. A FEW CUMULONIMBI WITH MAXIMUM TOPS TO
400. MEAN STORM MOTION VECTOR 24035.


...HALES


looks like we can get some of that surf swell energy if it keeps up @ p.r.
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greetings fellows,

hope u have a wonderful holiday season... gettin ready for 2011's canes. the only ones were getting right now are candy canes :D
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<
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SEL4

URGENT - IMMEDIATE BROADCAST REQUESTED
TORNADO WATCH NUMBER 764
NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK
315 PM CST SAT DEC 11 2010

THE NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER HAS ISSUED A
TORNADO WATCH FOR PORTIONS OF

PARTS OF NORTHEAST LOUISIANA
LARGE PART OF CENTRAL AND WESTERN MISSISSIPPI

EFFECTIVE THIS SATURDAY AFTERNOON AND EVENING FROM 315 PM UNTIL
900 PM CST.

TORNADOES...HAIL TO 0.5 INCH IN DIAMETER...THUNDERSTORM WIND
GUSTS TO 70 MPH...AND DANGEROUS LIGHTNING ARE POSSIBLE IN THESE
AREAS.

THE TORNADO WATCH AREA IS APPROXIMATELY ALONG AND 65 STATUTE
MILES EAST AND WEST OF A LINE FROM 40 MILES SOUTH OF NATCHEZ
MISSISSIPPI TO 30 MILES EAST NORTHEAST OF GREENWOOD MISSISSIPPI.
FOR A COMPLETE DEPICTION OF THE WATCH SEE THE ASSOCIATED WATCH
OUTLINE UPDATE (WOUS64 KWNS WOU4).

REMEMBER...A TORNADO WATCH MEANS CONDITIONS ARE FAVORABLE FOR
TORNADOES AND SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS IN AND CLOSE TO THE WATCH
AREA. PERSONS IN THESE AREAS SHOULD BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR
THREATENING WEATHER CONDITIONS AND LISTEN FOR LATER STATEMENTS
AND POSSIBLE WARNINGS.

DISCUSSION...THUNDERSTORMS ARE INCREASING IN NUMBER AND INTENSITY
AHEAD OF STRONG COLD FRONT MOVING EWD ACROSS AR INTO NRN LA. AIR
MASS THOUGH ONLY MARGINALLY UNSTABLE...GIVEN THE STRONG SHEAR
PROFILES AND APPROACH OF VIGOROUS UPPER JET...WILL BE SUFFICIENTLY
UNSTABLE TO SUPPORT LOW TOPPED SUPERCELLS AND A TORNADO THREAT. IN
ADDITION DAMAGING WINDS WILL BECOME AN INCREASING THREAT AS STORMS
EVOLVE INTO A LINE BY THIS EVENING ALONG THE COLD FRONT AS IT MOVES
SEWD ACROSS THE WATCH.

AVIATION...TORNADOES AND A FEW SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS WITH HAIL
SURFACE AND ALOFT TO 0.5 INCH. EXTREME TURBULENCE AND SURFACE
WIND GUSTS TO 60 KNOTS. A FEW CUMULONIMBI WITH MAXIMUM TOPS TO
400. MEAN STORM MOTION VECTOR 24035.


...HALES
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127636
CONUS WV loop dee loop

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127636
Quoting lightningbolt73:
The mmodels have been all over the place with this system! The good news is that after this cold blast there doesn't seem to be another one coming! Of course then on Christmas we'll probably be 85 degrees! At this point nothing would surprise me!


Actually according to Joe Lumbergs blog, there is another one coming next weekend lol.
Member Since: May 26, 2007 Posts: 47 Comments: 1271
Err I see nothing is really happening on the blog,besides climate change/global warming debate,and other....well...foolishness.I'am dissapointed that I will not be getting any snow from the system currently affecting the midwest.A dissapointment indeed.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 16437
Quoting lightningbolt73:
I totally agree. They say this every year. This kind of thing is what will cause complacency among the public!


2010 was not overhyped, the general public and the news assumes that if a prediction says season will be active it automatically means US landfalls when this is completely untrue.

Alex


Earl directly hitting the islands.


Igor while making landfall in Canada.


Hurricane Karl of course


Hurricane Paula hit Cuba.


Hurricane Richard hit Belize as a Category 2.


Hurricane Tomas of course..


7 Hurricanes either directly hit land this year or made landfall. Karl hit the Gulf Coast of Mexico as a major and Earl hit the islands as a Major. There was absolutely nothing that was hyped by CSU or TSR who came out with the 2011 predictions also and they were right when they released their first predictions for 2010 in Dec. 09.. that 2010 would be active and 2011 will most likely be very active. I think its just plain wrong to call 2010 overhyped when there was landfalling major hurricanes and more storms predicted than what CSU even predicted. Just my two cents of course.
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502. IKE
Quoting PalmBeachWeather:
IKE.........
I've been so many places in my life and time
I've sung a lot of songt, I've made some bad rhyme
I've acted out my life in stages,
With ten thousand people watching
We're alone now and I'm singing this song for you.

IKE.My all time favorite singer is LEON.
I have seen him at least 10 times.. Showing my age I even remember "Mad Dogs and Englishmen"
My ex-hubby got me hooked on Leon in the 70's....I even called myself "Delta Lady" when I was in that Era.
I'm so glad that someone else knows real music...Poor Leon has an electric wheelchair now, and had brain surgery before he made the album with Elton...
IKE....Thanks for being s Leon Lifer...That is his website...... www.leonlifer.com


I like that song I pasted on here. Leon has a great singing voice.
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Quoting yesterway:
Regarding the 2011 hurricane outlook: It would seem that these guys would get tired of eating crow. Putting out mass amounts of beta prediction material about how this is going to happen and that is going to happen only causes confusion and gives the media something to use to blast the public with. The 2010 season was overly hyped and amounted to nothing with respect to land falling tropical systems (which is what matters). Truth is there will be little to be concerned about in the 2011 season that would be of concern to people in the US. The best method is just keep quiet and wait and see what happens. In so doing you don't lose the respect of the public and bring shame and dishonor to the scientific community which results in complacency which claims more lives than any hurricane. Quite frankly, I have lost interest and respect for these predictions. It seems to be just a numbers game and has very little useful application for the average person. Not to mention providing some remote idea of where a hurricane is going to go. After all is said and done it is still a "wait and see" issue.


While I do agree with some of what has been said, I disagree with not running these predictions.

Everyone recognizes the skill of these forecasts is ridiculously low. These forecasts are not intended to be held accountable for actual observed hurricane activity. What they are really ran for is to test how they can improve extremely long range forecasting.

We may never have weather forecasting down to 100% accurate, but we should always strive for improvement and that is exactly what the purpose of these forecasts are; to learn from mistakes to improve forecasting.
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The mmodels have been all over the place with this system! The good news is that after this cold blast there doesn't seem to be another one coming! Of course then on Christmas we'll probably be 85 degrees! At this point nothing would surprise me!
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Quoting yesterway:
Regarding the 2011 hurricane outlook: It would seem that these guys would get tired of eating crow. Putting out mass amounts of beta prediction material about how this is going to happen and that is going to happen only causes confusion and gives the media something to use to blast the public with. The 2010 season was overly hyped and amounted to nothing with respect to land falling tropical systems (which is what matters). Truth is there will be little to be concerned about in the 2011 season that would be of concern to people in the US. The best method is just keep quiet and wait and see what happens. In so doing you don't lose the respect of the public and bring shame and dishonor to the scientific community which results in complacency which claims more lives than any hurricane. Quite frankly, I have lost interest and respect for these predictions. It seems to be just a numbers game and has very little useful application for the average person. Not to mention providing some remote idea of where a hurricane is going to go. After all is said and done it is still a "wait and see" issue.
I totally agree. They say this every year. This kind of thing is what will cause complacency among the public!
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IKE.........
I've been so many places in my life and time
I've sung a lot of songt, I've made some bad rhyme
I've acted out my life in stages,
With ten thousand people watching
We're alone now and I'm singing this song for you.

IKE.My all time favorite singer is LEON.
I have seen him at least 10 times.. Showing my age I even remember "Mad Dogs and Englishmen"
My ex-hubby got me hooked on Leon in the 70's....I even called myself "Delta Lady" when I was in that Era.
I'm so glad that someone else knows real music...Poor Leon has an electric wheelchair now, and had brain surgery before he made the album with Elton...
IKE....Thanks for being s Leon Lifer...That is his website...... www.leonlifer.com
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Quoting JRRP:

PDO ???


Why, WHY, WHY do people blame the PDO?

PDO is a measurement. It is an observed phenomena. If anything, global warming would have an effect on this measurement. Not the other way around.

Why don't people understand this?
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I am a little early than that
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Quoting drlinhardt:
It would seem that reasonable minds would question whether an occurrence in excess above "average" of named storms is not statistically meaningful when compared to numbers ranging from pre-satellite and pre-hurricane hunter days. We are clearly able to measure, name and qualify storms that more than likely were never known about before 1950.
Wow, looking back...this is the first comment by someone that joined in 2003!?!

Really?
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12461
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489. beell
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Snow Pounds Paris, Closes Eiffel Tower (PHOTOS)

AP



PARIS (AP) - Heavy snow in Paris on Wednesday shut down the city's main airport, its bus system and the Eiffel Tower. Elsewhere in Europe, bad weather caused travel chaos in Scotland, and a child's body was found after a flash flood in Spain. (Scroll down for photos)

In Paris, where heavy snowfall is unusual, the snow reached 10 centimeters (4 inches), weather service Meteo France said. It quickly turned into a slushy mess, and vehicles skidded on unplowed roads.

Flights in and out of Paris' Charles de Gaulle were suspended for about an hour and a half Wednesday afternoon, the city's airport authority said. When it reopened, only one of four runways was in use. At both Paris airports, flights were delayed by up to three hours.

All buses in the capital stopped running, as did many suburban buses, the city's RATP transit authority said.

The Eiffel Tower was shut to tourists around midday, the monument's press service said. Officials said they couldn't sprinkle salt on the tower's floors because of concerns it could damage the iron structure.


Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127636
Quoting beell:
474. Patrap 4:52 PM GMT on December 11, 2010
GOM IR Loop dee Loop



Nice series of gravity waves propagating south across the GOM on that one, Pat.


Indeed,,thats always a cool thing to see.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127636
Quoting drlinhardt:
It would seem that reasonable minds would question whether an occurrence in excess above "average" of named storms is not statistically meaningful when compared to numbers ranging from pre-satellite and pre-hurricane hunter days. We are clearly able to measure, name and qualify storms that more than likely were never known about before 1950.
Agreed.

I find this a most telling analysis in that regard.



Look at how many years pre-satellite where 100% of TCs made landfall. None since the launch of satellites.

I hope no one really thinks that us launching satellites suddenly changed what percentage of TCs actually made landfall.

From this publication: http://www.aoml.noaa.gov/hrd/Landsea/landsea-eos-may012007.pdf

Which as number of excellent analyses.
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12461
485. beell
474. Patrap 4:52 PM GMT on December 11, 2010
GOM IR Loop dee Loop



Nice series of gravity waves propagating south across the GOM on that one, Pat.
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WINDS MAY REACH 90 KMH IN GUSTS OVER LOWER LAKES AFTER MIDNIGHT SUNDAY
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interests in east se of a line just on shore lake erie southeastern shoreline triple point low weather bomb pay close attention to forecasts
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It would seem that reasonable minds would question whether an occurrence in excess above "average" of named storms is not statistically meaningful when compared to numbers ranging from pre-satellite and pre-hurricane hunter days. We are clearly able to measure, name and qualify storms that more than likely were never known about before 1950.
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Quoting Skyepony:
Cool PDO does tends to warm the Arctic & higher latitudes.

WARM PHASE..........................................................................................COOL PHASE


But I don't see how we can blame the PDO on the difference from the 1970s vs 2000s. The PDO was more cool in the '70s... so in the absence of any warming from other forcings the '70s should have had the warmer Arctic. As Neapolitan's post points out.. it didn't.



Tough to say. Like all other things earth science, we have to assume PDO cycles are exceedingly variable. But we have only thoroughly measured the effects of half of one.
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12461

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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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