The global tropical cyclone season of 2010: record inactivity

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 1:14 AM GMT on April 03, 2011

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The year 2010 was one of the strangest on record globally for tropical cyclones. Each year, the globe has about 92 tropical cyclones--called hurricanes in the Atlantic and Eastern Pacific, typhoons in the Western Pacific, and tropical cyclones in the Southern Hemisphere. But in 2010, we had just 68 of these storms--the fewest since the dawn of the satellite era in 1970. The previous record slowest year was 1977, when 69 tropical cyclones occurred world-wide. Both the Western Pacific and Eastern Pacific had their quietest seasons on record in 2010, the Atlantic had its 3rd busiest season since record keeping began in 1851, and the Southern Hemisphere had a below average season. As a result, the Atlantic, which ordinarily accounts for just 13% of global cyclone activity, accounted for 28% in 2010--the greatest proportion since accurate tropical cyclone records began in the 1970s. Global Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) for 2010 was the lowest since the late 1970s (ACE is a measure of the total destructive power of a hurricane season, based on the number of days strong winds are observed.)


Figure 1. Visible satellite image of 2010's strongest tropical cyclone: Super Typhoon Megi at 2:25 UTC October 18, 2010. A reconnaissance aircraft measured a central pressure of 885 mb and surface winds of 190 mph in the storm, making Megi the 8th strongest tropical cyclone in world history. Image credit: NASA.

A record quiet 2010 Northwest Pacific Typhoon Season
The Western Pacific set records for fewest number of named storms (fifteen, previous record seventeen in 1998) and typhoons (nine, tied with the previous record of nine in 1998. Note that Tropical Storm Mindulle was upgraded to a typhoon in post-analysis after the season was over.) Reliable records began in the mid-1960s. For just the second year in history, the Atlantic had more named storms and hurricane-strength storms than the Western Pacific. The only other year this occurred was in 2005. Ordinarily, the Western Pacific has double to triple the amount of tropical cyclones of the Atlantic. One other notable feature of the 2010 season was the lack of a land-falling typhoon on the Japanese mainland. This is only the second such occurrence since 1988.

In 2010, there was only one super typhoon--a storm with at least 150 mph winds--in the Western Pacific. However, this storm, Super Typhoon Megi, was a doozy. Megi's sustained winds cranked up to a fearsome 190 mph and its central pressure bottomed out at 885 mb on October 16, making it the 8th most intense tropical cyclone in world history. Fortunately, Megi weakened significantly before hitting the Philippines as a Category 3 typhoon. Megi killed 69 people on Taiwan and in the Philippines and did $700 million in damage, and was the second deadliest and damaging typhoon of 2010. Category 3 Typhoon Fanapi was the deadliest and most damaging typhoon of 2010, doing over $1 billion in damage to Taiwan and China and killing 105.

The record quiet typhoon season in 2010 was due, in part, to the La Niña phenomena. During such events, the formation region for Western Pacific typhoons moves northwestward, closer to China. Thus, storms that form in the Western Pacific spend less time over water before they encounter land, resulting in a lesser chance to become a named storm, and less time to intensify. They also accumulate a lower ACE due to their shorter duration. Since the Western Pacific is responsible for 35% of the world's major tropical cyclones, the global ACE value is strongly tied to year-to-year variations in the El Niño/La Niña cycle.


Figure 2.
Statistics for the global tropical cyclone season of 2010. The two numbers in each box represent the actual number observed in 2010, followed by the averages from the period 1983-2007 (in parentheses). Averages and records were computed using the December 23, 2008 release of NOAA's International Best Track Archive for Climate Stewardship.

A record quiet 2010 Eastern Pacific Typhoon Season
In the Eastern Pacific, it was also a record-quiet season. On average, the Eastern Pacific has 15 named storms, 8 hurricanes, and 3 intense hurricanes in a season. In 2010, there were 8 named storms, 3 hurricanes, and 2 intense hurricanes. The previous record quietest season since 1966 was the year 1977, when the Eastern Pacific had 8 named storms, 4 hurricanes, and zero intense hurricanes. La Niña was largely responsible for the quiet Eastern Pacific hurricane season, due in part to the cool sea surface temperatures it brought. It is quite remarkable that both the Eastern and Western Pacific ocean basins had record quiet seasons in the same year--there is no historical precedent for such an occurrence.

Climate change and the 2008 global tropical cyclone season
We only have about 30 years of reliable global tropical cyclone data, and tropical cyclones are subject to large natural variations in numbers and intensities. Thus, it will be very difficult at present to prove that climate change is affecting global tropical cyclone activity. (This is less so in the Atlantic, where we have a longer reliable data record to work with.) A common theme of many recent publications on the future of tropical cyclones globally in a warming climate is that the total number of these storms will decrease, but the strongest storms will get stronger. For example, a 2010 review paper published in Nature Geosciences concluded: "greenhouse warming will cause the globally averaged intensity of tropical cyclones to shift towards stronger storms, with intensity increases of 2 - 11% by 2100. Existing modeling studies also consistently project decreases in the globally averaged frequency of tropical cyclones, by 6 - 34%. Balanced against this, higher resolution modeling studies typically project substantial increases in the frequency of the most intense cyclones, and increases of the order of 20% in the precipitation rate within 100 km of the storm centre." Last year, I discussed a paper by Bender et al that concluded that the total number of Atlantic hurricanes is expected to decrease by the end of the century, but there could be an increase of 81% in the number of Category 4 and 5 storms. The net effect of a decrease in total number of hurricanes but an increase in the strongest hurricanes should cause an increase in U.S. hurricane damages of about 30% by the end of the century, the authors computed, assuming that hurricane damages behave as they did during the past century. A new paper just published by Murakami et. al predicts that Western Pacific tropical cyclones may decrease in number by 23% by the end of the century, primarily due to a shift in the formation location and tracks of these storms.

In light of these theoretical results, it is interesting that 2010 saw the lowest number of global tropical cyclones on record, but an average number of very strong Category 4 and 5 storms. Fully 21% of last year's tropical cyclones reached Category 4 or 5 strength, versus just 14% during the period 1983 - 2007. Most notably, in 2010 we had the second strongest tropical cyclone on record in the Arabian Sea (Category 4 Cyclone Phet in June) and the strongest tropical cyclone ever to hit Myanmar/Burma (October's Tropical Cyclone Giri, an upper end Category 4 storm with 155 mph winds.) It is too early to read anything into this year's global tropical cyclone numbers, though--we need many more years of data before making any judgments on how global tropical cyclones might be responding to climate change.


Figure 3. Visible satellite image of Tropical Cyclone Phet on Thursday, June 3, 2010. Record heat over southern Asia in May helped heat up the Arabian Sea to 2°C above normal, and the exceptionally warm SSTs helped fuel Tropical Cyclone Phet into the second strongest tropical cyclone ever recorded in the Arabian Sea. Phet peaked at Category 4 strength with 145 mph winds. Only Category 5 Cyclone Gonu of 2007, which devastated Oman, was a stronger Arabian Sea cyclone. Phet killed 44 people and did $700 million in damage to Oman.


Figure 4. Visible MODIS satellite image of Tropical Cyclone Giri taken at 2:55am EDT October 22, 2010, just prior to landfall in Myanmar/Burma. At the time, Giri was a Category 4 storm with 145 mph winds. Giri killed 157 people and did $359 million in damage. Image credit: NASA.

Jeff Masters

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Japan Meteorological Agency
Tropical Disturbance Summary
TROPICAL DEPRESSION XX
9:00 AM JST April 3 2011
=================================

SUBJECT: Tropical Depression in South China Sea

At 0:00 AM UTC, Tropical Depression (1006 hPa) located at 9.5N 111.9E has 10 minute sustained winds of 30 knots with gusts of 45 knots. The depression is reported as almost stationary.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting TampaSpin:


YOU KNOW WHAT your just a very OLD, dang it what was the english word you use......


Twit?
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Quoting Grothar:


How dare you use such language to me. I can't believe you would disagree with my charts. LOL What you should say is, "Fantastic, Gro. Best charts I've seen. Amazing. Wow. How do you know so much. Fluff my ego. You know how nasty I can get when someone disagrees with me. (How was that T.) LOL


YOU KNOW WHAT your just a very OLD, dang it what was the english word you use......
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 177 Comments: 20430
Quoting atmoaggie:
"Fantastic, Gro. Best charts I've seen. Amazing. Wow. How do you know so much. Fluff my ego. You know how nasty I can get when someone disagrees with me. (How was that T.) LOL

Er, seems that an end quote should have been somewhere in there. Oops.


I have your end quote, right here.
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56. weatherboy1992 11:13 PM EDT on April 02, 2011

Quoting Neapolitan:
Kyodo: The following are the latest casualty figures related to the earthquake and tsunami that hit northeastern and eastern Japan on March 11, according to the National Police Agency as of 10 a.m. Sunday:

Number of people killed 12,009
Number of people missing 15,472
TOTAL: 27,481


Will that include the 2 dead workers found do you think? Or will the deaths be counted separately?

-----------------------------
You guys really find some type of something with your reporting of such........ Weird, but expected now ,,,, Just sayin........ out>>>>
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Quoting Grothar:


How dare you use such language to me. I can't believe you would disagree with my charts. LOL What you should say is, "Fantastic, Gro. Best charts I've seen. Amazing. Wow. How do you know so much. Fluff my ego. You know how nasty I can get when someone disagrees with me. (How was that T.) LOL
those weren't even your forecasts gramps. There from the weather center. Jk, jk lol
Quoting TampaSpin:


Groth i am not disagreeing with DR. Forbes but, just reading what the Models are currently showing. Things will be in place for Severe Weather as the Jet Stream will be dipping South again, with High Pressure off the SE Coast pumping heat and moisture out of the tropics into the cold front. Seems Shear will be present as well. Yes things will be in Place but, the models are presently not suggesting what Dr. Forbes is suggesting, but i for sure would not be surprised if Dr. Forbes is 100% correct!
Tampa, if you got the time could you please post the model run you are talking about, or a link to it? Thanks man
Member Since: August 24, 2010 Posts: 19 Comments: 4357
"Fantastic, Gro. Best charts I've seen. Amazing. Wow. How do you know so much. Fluff my ego. You know how nasty I can get when someone disagrees with me. (How was that T.) LOL

Er, seems that an end quote should have been somewhere in there. Oops.
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Quoting Ossqss:
When TCHP comes up, make sure the understanding is in place with respect to the changes made in 08. It will come up :)

http://www.aoml.noaa.gov/phod/cyclone/data/method .html

lmao. Can we make this a sticky comment to be shown at the top of any and all pages for the next few months?
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Quoting TampaSpin:


Groth i am not disagreeing with DR. Forbes but, just reading what the Models are currently showing. Things will be in place for Severe Weather as the Jet Stream will be dipping South again, with High Pressure off the SE Coast pumping heat and moisture out of the tropics into the cold front. Seems Shear will be present as well. Yes things will be in Place but, the models are presently not suggesting what Dr. Forbes is suggesting, but i for sure would not be surprised if Dr. Forbes is 100% correct!


How dare you use such language to me. I can't believe you would disagree with my charts. LOL What you should say is, "Fantastic, Gro. Best charts I've seen. Amazing. Wow. How do you know so much." Fluff my ego. You know how nasty I can get when someone disagrees with me. (How was that T.) LOL
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Quoting Grothar:
Right now, TWC Severe Weather Expert, Dr. Greg Forbes (Find him on Facebook) is concerned about supercells with damaging winds and tornadoes, possibly strong, Monday afternoon and early evening in the light red shaded area below.

By Monday night, if not earlier, this event should transition to a squall line with damaging winds the primary threat in the darker red shaded area. The threat for widespread damaging winds is high in setups such as this.


Wow. The NOLA discussion also says:

THAT SAID
THE BULK OF THE ACTIVITY WILL BE WITH THE COLD FRONT AS WE ARE
EXPECTING A SQUALLINE TO PUSH ACROSS THE ENTIRE CWA MAINLY DURING
THE EVN AND OVERNIGHT HRS.

...

THE FRONT IS SPEEDING UP SO MOST IF NOT ALL PRECIP SHOULD BE MOVING
OUT OF THE AREA BY SUNRISE.

Did it speed up more?
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When TCHP comes up, make sure the understanding is in place with respect to the changes made in 08. It will come up :)

http://www.aoml.noaa.gov/phod/cyclone/data/method .html

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Quoting TampaSpin:
WELL this does not look very good ....OUCH!



Yup.

NOLA discussion:

[snip]
THINGS ARE LINING UP FOR ANOTHER ROUND. THE
MDLS ARE INDICATING PRETTY IMPRESSIVE INSTABILITY VALUES AND WITH
24-36 HRS OF RECOVERY WE SHOULD HAVE NO PROBLEM WITH MOISTURE. IN
ADDITION TO THAT WITH THE FRONT MOVING THROUGH DURING THE
EVN/OVERNIGHT HRS WE WILL HAVE A FULL DAY OF DAYTIME HEATING TO WORK
WITH. DEWPOINTS ARE EXPECTED TO APPROACH THE UPPER 60S AND EVEN
LOWER 70S WHILE H85 THETA E VALUES SHOULD BE NEAR 335K. AT THE SAME
TIME AS HGHTS COOL ALOFT WE WILL SEE SOME DECENT MID LVL LAPSE RATES
AGAIN POSSIBLY BORDERING 7.5 C/KM AND VT OF 28-29C. SPEAKING OF
HGHTS WE ARE LOOKING AT 8-10DM HGHT FALLS FROM 18Z MON TO 6Z TUE.
THIS COMBINED WITH H5 WINDS OF 80+KTS AND POSSIBLY THE RRQ OF THE
UPPER JET WILL QUITE A BIT OF LIFT AND FORCING. AS FOR SHEAR
INITIALLY WE WILL HAVE SOME DECENT ROTATION BUT AS THE FRONT CLOSES
IN THINGS WILL BECOME MORE UNIDIRECTIONAL. SO WITH THAT IF TSRA CAN
DEVELOP AHEAD OF THE FRONT AND BECOME SVR THESE WILL HAVE THE
CAPABILITY OF PRODUCING ALL MODES OF SVR WEATHER EVEN LARGE HAIL
AGAIN AS MID LVL LAPSE RATES WILL BE QUITE STEEP AGAIN. AS WE MOVE
INTO THE EVN HRS AND OVERNIGHT HRS AND THE FRONT MOVES IN WE WILL
SEE STORMS CONGEAL AS A SQUALLINE WITH DAMAGING STRAIGHT LINE WINDS
THE MAIN CONCERN. THAT SAID HAIL WILL STILL BE POSSIBLE AND
TORNADOES A LESSER RISK MAINLY ALONG ANY BREAK IN THE LINE OR JUST
TO THE NORTH OR SOUTH OF BOWING SEGMENTS.

[snip]
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Quoting Grothar:
Right now, TWC Severe Weather Expert, Dr. Greg Forbes (Find him on Facebook) is concerned about supercells with damaging winds and tornadoes, possibly strong, Monday afternoon and early evening in the light red shaded area below.

By Monday night, if not earlier, this event should transition to a squall line with damaging winds the primary threat in the darker red shaded area. The threat for widespread damaging winds is high in setups such as this.



Groth i am not disagreeing with DR. Forbes but, just reading what the Models are currently showing. Things will be in place for Severe Weather as the Jet Stream will be dipping South again, with High Pressure off the SE Coast pumping heat and moisture out of the tropics into the cold front. Seems Shear will be present as well. Yes things will be in Place but, the models are presently not suggesting what Dr. Forbes is suggesting, but i for sure would not be surprised if Dr. Forbes is 100% correct!
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 177 Comments: 20430
Quoting washingtonian115:
I think one day it will be put into a museum.


They have been trying to do that to me for years, but I refuse.
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Well, this system looks very scary. While I live in South Florida, i'll definitely be keeping an eye on this system.
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Following the early morning damaging wind threat in the Northeast, possibly including New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C., the southern end of the cold front may spark severe t-storms in the light-shaded red area below, from the eastern Carolinas to, yet again, parts of Florida.

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Right now, TWC Severe Weather Expert, Dr. Greg Forbes (Find him on Facebook) is concerned about supercells with damaging winds and tornadoes, possibly strong, Monday afternoon and early evening in the light red shaded area below.

By Monday night, if not earlier, this event should transition to a squall line with damaging winds the primary threat in the darker red shaded area. The threat for widespread damaging winds is high in setups such as this.

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Quoting Grothar:


Here I am for my first photograph. That silver nitrate used to get all over the room. If you go my my photos you will see I haven't changed much. You will see the little Grothars, too.

I think one day it will be put into a museum.
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NAM above does not show much of anything severe YET!




GFS above again not not really show anything Crazy Severe either. But, does not mean it won't happen and does not mean that tomorrow this model might just change.
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Kyodo: The following are the latest casualty figures related to the earthquake and tsunami that hit northeastern and eastern Japan on March 11, according to the National Police Agency as of 10 a.m. Sunday:

Number of people killed 12,009
Number of people missing 15,472
TOTAL: 27,481
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Quoting Grothar:


Did you happen to catch the CMC and GFS models for the coming week that hydrus posted this morning. It looks like another super outbreak similar to 1974. Not good at all.


Just looked at the GFS's and it seems its backed off some. Maybe the next run might bring back more severe stuff. I would not put alot of emphasis on the CMC for Severe inland weather systems.
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 177 Comments: 20430
Seems the Models do not put the REALLY Severe stuff into Central and South Florida like this past system. But, the Northern Gulf Coast States....ie. Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia better watch this very Close in my opinion!
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Quoting TampaSpin:
WELL this does not look very good ....OUCH!




Did you happen to catch the CMC and GFS models for the coming week that hydrus posted this morning. It looks like another super outbreak similar to 1974. Not good at all.
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Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 177 Comments: 20430
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 177 Comments: 20430
WELL this does not look very good ....OUCH!


Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 177 Comments: 20430
Kyodo: 2 missing Fukushima plant workers found dead on site: TEPCO.
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Quoting RTLSNK:


At our age, the memories may be better than the originals. :)


Imagination is a good thing. LOL
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Quoting hurricane23:
To much emphasis put on sst's... water temperatures will always be there come cane season.


yep, never fails....NEVER
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To much emphasis put on sst's... water temperatures will always be there come cane season.
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Quoting washingtonian115:
Can you tell us how the old camras use to work?(the ones from the 1800's.)I'm sure you saw them first hand Grothar.


Here I am for my first photograph. That silver nitrate used to get all over the room. If you go my my photos you will see I haven't changed much. You will see the little Grothars, too.

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Quoting Levi32:


I'm getting there. I won't have the time I want to devote to looking at it until mid-May when school gets out.

I already starting watching Sat loops..we've had two trofs go over with TW characteristics but PW values are low and shear high keeping convection minimal but it's warming up.
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Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 177 Comments: 20430
Quoting Levi32:
New CFSv2 is up and running. Here is the Nino 3.4 forecast from the new CFS, which, interestingly enough, supports the idea that El Nino may not be able to emerge next fall/winter.



Even if a weak nino were indeed to develope come the heart of this season unfortunatly i dont think it will have much of an afffect in surpressing things. Though a ways to go recent european forecast look to open the doors for the US.
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I don't know if it's just an anomaly but notice how even though it was a record slow year for tropical storms, there were 14 cat. 4-5 hurricanes when the average is 13.
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Quoting Levi32:
New CFSv2 is up and running. Here is the Nino 3.4 forecast from the new CFS, which, interestingly enough, supports the idea that El Nino may not be able to emerge next fall/winter.



Looks like a short lived Neutral then back to LaNina.......wouldn't that be something and make a usually very bad outlook for the CANE SEASON
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Quoting sailingallover:

Hey Levi! All ready for the season?


I'm getting there. I won't have the time I want to devote to looking at it until mid-May when school gets out.
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Quoting Grothar:


The thrill may be gone, but the memories never fade.


At our age, the memories may be better than the originals. :)
Member Since: September 3, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 19515
Quoting Grothar:


CyberTeddy posted that this morning with a full updateon his blog.


He actually posted the CFSv1 updated forecast for April, not CFSv2.
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Quoting Grothar:


The thrill may be gone, but the memories never fade.
Can you tell us how the old camras use to work?(the ones from the 1800's.)I'm sure you saw them first hand Grothar.
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Quoting Levi32:
New CFSv2 is up and running. Here is the Nino 3.4 forecast from the new CFS, which, interestingly enough, supports the idea that El Nino may not be able to emerge next fall/winter.



CyberTeddy posted that this morning with a full updateon his blog.
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Quoting Levi32:
New CFSv2 is up and running. Here is the Nino 3.4 forecast from the new CFS, which, interestingly enough, supports the idea that El Nino may not be able to emerge next fall/winter.


Hey Levi! All ready for the season?
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Quoting weatherboy1992:
Except that sometimes when we send recon into a storm for the first time we find winds 10-20 knots different from what the satellite presentation lead us to believe. And pressures different as well. Satellite monitoring is useful and it is very important, but the interpretations of satellite images are not nearly as accurate as I'd like them to be.

And does that happen on any of the Cat 3's taking them to 4 or 4 to 5's?
There is Sat Coverage over the whole pacific now although the Central pacific (around Hawaii French Polynesia) has very few strong storms anyway.
The subject here is wether we are missing possible Cat 4+s due to lack of recon flights..at least thats what I thought :)
it would be interesting to see how well Sat analysis stood up in the last few seasons those times(if there are any) a recon changed a 3 to a 4 or 4 to 5 recon into a storm was a
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Quoting weatherboy1992:
I'm guessing Grothar has seen about 3,500 Saturdays. Perhaps the thrill is gone ;)


The thrill may be gone, but the memories never fade.
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Quoting Levi32:
New CFSv2 is up and running. Here is the Nino 3.4 forecast from the new CFS, which, interestingly enough, supports the idea that El Nino may not be able to emerge next fall/winter.

Well that will be 2012 after alllll!!(starts evil luaghter) Mwuhahah...ha..ha(starts cuaghing/gasping for air.(Cuaghs some more).Okay I need to not do the evil luagh anymore.
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Quoting gippgig:
What about the Central Pacific?



it was dead for the most part
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New CFSv2 is up and running. Here is the Nino 3.4 forecast from the new CFS, which, interestingly enough, supports the idea that El Nino may not be able to emerge next fall/winter.

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About JeffMasters

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