CSU predicts a very active hurricane season: 16 storms, 9 hurricanes

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 4:30 PM GMT on June 01, 2011

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A very active Atlantic hurricane season is on tap for 2011, according to the seasonal hurricane forecast issued June 1 by Dr. Phil Klotzbach and Dr. Bill Gray of Colorado State University (CSU). The CSU team is calling for 16 named storms, 9 hurricanes, and 5 intense hurricanes, and an Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) 166% of average. Between 1950 - 2000, the average season had 10 named storms, 6 hurricanes, and 2 intense hurricanes. But since 1995, the beginning of an active hurricane period in the Atlantic, we've averaged 14 named storms, 8 hurricanes, and 4 intense hurricanes per year. The new forecast is identical to their April forecast. The forecast calls for a much above-average chance of a major hurricane hitting the U.S., both along the East Coast (48% chance, 31% chance is average) and the Gulf Coast (47% chance, 30% chance is average). The risk of a major hurricane in the Caribbean is also high, at 61% (42% is average.)

The forecasters cited four main reasons for an active season:

1) Neutral to weak La Niña conditions are expected during the most active portion of this year's hurricane season (August-October). This should lead to average to below average levels of vertical wind shear.

2) Above average May sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic.

3) Below average surface pressures during May in the tropical Atlantic.

4) We are in the midst of a multi-decadal era of major hurricane activity, which began in 1995. Major hurricanes cause 80-85 percent of normalized hurricane damage.

Analogue years
The CSU team picked five previous years when atmospheric and oceanic conditions were similar to what we are seeing this year: neutral to weak La Niña conditions in the equatorial Eastern Pacific, and above-average tropical Atlantic and far north Atlantic SSTs during April - May. Those five years were 2008, which featured Hurricane Ike and Hurricane Gustav; 1996, which had two hurricanes that hit North Carolina, Fran and Bertha; 1989, which featured Category 5 Hurricane Hugo; 1981, a very average year with 12 named storms, 7 hurricanes, and 3 intense hurricanes; and 1951, a year that featured 6 major hurricanes. The mean activity for these five years was 12 named storms, 8 hurricanes, and 4 intense hurricanes.

How accurate are the June forecasts?
The June forecasts by the CSU team between 1998 and 2009 had a skill 19% - 30% higher than a "no-skill" climatology forecast for number of named storms, number of hurricanes, and the ACE index (Figure 1). This is a decent amount of skill for a seasonal forecast, and these June forecasts can be useful to businesses such as the insurance industry and oil and gas industry that need to make bets on how active the coming hurricane season will be. Unfortunately, the CSU June 1 forecasts do poorly at forecasting the number of major hurricanes (only 3% skill), and major hurricanes cause 80% - 85% of all hurricane damage (normalized to current population and wealth levels.) This year's June forecast uses a brand new formula never tried before, so there is no way to evaluate its performance. An Excel spreadsheet of their forecast skill (expressed as a mathematical correlation coefficient) show values from 0.41 to 0.62 for their June forecasts made between 1984 and 2010, which is respectable.


Figure 1. Comparison of the percent improvement over climatology for May and August seasonal hurricane forecasts for the Atlantic from NOAA, CSU and TSR from 1999-2009 (May) and 1998-2009 (August), using the Mean Squared Error. Image credit: Verification of 12 years of NOAA seasonal hurricane forecasts, National Hurricane Center.


Figure 2. Comparison of the percent improvement in mean square error over climatology for seasonal hurricane forecasts for the Atlantic from NOAA, CSU and TSR from 2001-2010, using the Mean Square Skill Score (MSSS). The figure shows the results using two different climatologies: a fixed 50-year (1950 - 1999) climatology, and a 2001 - 2010 climatology. Skill is poor for forecasts issued in December and April, moderate for June forecasts, and good for August forecasts. Image credit: Tropical Storm Risk, Inc.

TSR predicts 25% more activity than normal
Expect the Atlantic hurricane season to be about 25% more active than usual, the British private forecasting firm Tropical Storm Risk, Inc. (TSR) said in their pre-season forecast issued on May 24. TSR calls for 14.2 named storms, 7.6 hurricanes, 3.6 intense hurricanes, and an Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) of 124, which is 22% above average. Their May 24 forecast numbers are very close to their previous forecast issued in April. TSR predicts a moderate 55% chance that activity will rank in the top 1/3 of years historically, and a 59% chance that U.S. landfalling activity will be above average. TSR rates their skill level as 16-25% higher than a "no-skill" forecast made using climatology, though an independent assessment by the National Hurricane Center (Figure 1) gives them somewhat lower skill numbers.

TSR projects that 4.4 named storms will hit the U.S., with 1.9 of these being hurricanes. The averages from the 1950-2010 climatology are 3.1 named storms and 1.5 hurricanes. They rate their skill at making these June forecasts for U.S. landfalls at 7 - 11% higher than a "no-skill" forecast made using climatology. In the Lesser Antilles Islands of the Caribbean, TSR projects 1.3 named storms, 0.6 of these being hurricanes. Climatology is 1.1 named storms and 0.5 hurricanes.

TSR cites two main factors for their forecast of an active season:

1) Their model predicts that sea surface temperatures will be 0.11°C warmer than average in August and September over the Main Development Region (MDR) for Atlantic hurricanes. They define this as the area between 10°N and 20°N, between the coast of Africa and Lesser Antilles Islands (20°W and 60°W). It is called the Main Development Region 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.)

2) Their model predicts slower than normal trade winds in August and September over the Main Development Region (MDR). Trade winds are forecast to be 0.19 meters per second (about 0.4 mph) slower than average. This would create more spin for developing storms, and allow the oceans to warm up, due to reduced mixing of cold water from the depths and lower evaporational cooling.

FSU predicts a very active hurricane season: 17 named storms
The Florida State University (FSU) Center for Ocean-Atmospheric Prediction Studies (COAPS) issued their third annual Atlantic hurricane season forecast today. This year's forecast calls for a 70% probability of 14-20 named storms and 8-10 hurricanes. The mean forecast is for 17 named storms, 9 hurricanes, and an accumulated cyclone energy (ACE) of 163. They cite warm tropical North Atlantic sea surface temperatures, a weakening of La Niña conditions, and the ongoing positive phase of the Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation as the major factors influencing their forecast.

Other seasonal forecasts
The UK Met Office's Glosea4 model is predicting a moderately more active season than normal, with 13 named storms and a ACE index of 151. The Cuba Institute of Meteorology is calling for 13 named storms and 7 hurricanes. NOAA predicts 15 named storms, 8 hurricanes, and 4.5 intense hurricanes. Pennsylvania State University predicts 16 named storms.

A surprise tropical disturbance for Florida
The Atlantic hurricane season is officially underway, and Mother Nature appears to be taking her cue from the calendar, as we have a surprise storm off the coast of Florida that is a threat to develop into a tropical depression later this week, after it crosses Florida into the Gulf of Mexico. An cluster of thunderstorms called a Mesoscale Convective System (MCS) pushed across southern New England early yesterday, emerged over the ocean, and rotated clockwise towards Florida, steered by a large high pressure system centered over Kentucky. The center of the disturbance stayed over the warm waters of the Gulf Stream, a region of low pressure developed, and intense thunderstorms began to build yesterday afternoon. Early this morning, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) designated the disturbance Invest 93L, and gave it a 10% chance of developing into a tropical depression. At 8am EDT, they upped those chances to 30%. Invest 93L is becoming increasingly organized, with Melbourne, Florida radar showing the beginnings of some rotation, with a solid band of heavy rain on the southwest side of the disturbance. The pressure and winds have leveled out at Buoy 41012, 40 nm ENE of St. Augustine, Florida. Winds peaked at 19 mph, gusting to 22 mph, at 10:50am EDT. Satellite imagery shows a small but intensifying region of thunderstorms. Sea surface temperatures (SSTs) are about 26°C (79°F) off the east coast of Florida, which is just warm enough to support formation of a tropical depression, and about 0.5°C above average. Wind shear is a low 5 - 10 knots, and it is likely that 93L will continue intensifying until it makes landfall over Central Florida this afternoon. A 50-mile wide swath of Florida from Daytona Beach to just north of Tampa can expect 1 - 3 inches of rain from 93L as it tracks over the state this afternoon and tonight. A Windsat pass this morning did not show a closed circulation, and I doubt 93L has enough time to develop into a tropical depression before landfall in Florida. The coast between Daytona Beach and Cocoa Beach could see wind gusts of 25 - 35 mph this afternoon, though.


Figure 3. Afternoon radar image of 93L from the Melbourne, Florida radar.

Fate of 93L once in the Gulf of Mexico
Since 93L is expected to continue its rapid west-southwest motion at 15 - 20 mph through Thursday, it will cross the Florida Peninsula in about 12 hours and emerge over the Gulf of Mexico early Thursday morning. It is possible that the passage over Florida will greatly disrupt 93L, since it is such a small system. I give a 40% chance that the storm will see its peak strength this afternoon, and not significantly regenerate over the Gulf of Mexico. However, the latest SHIPS model forecast predicts that wind shear will remain low to moderate, 5 - 15 knots, as 93L moves westwards over the Gulf of Mexico Thursday and Friday. SSTs in the Gulf are about 27°C (81°F), 0.5 - 1.0°C above average, and it is possible that 93L could gain enough strength to become Tropical Depression One as it crosses the Gulf. Since 93L will be moving parallel to the coast a short distance offshore, it is difficult to predict where the storm might make a second landfall, since a slight change in heading will make a large difference in landfall location. I don't expect widespread heavy rains from 93L along the Gulf Coast, since the storm is so small, but some locations close to the coast could receive 2 - 4 inches as 93L brushes by. Heavier rains are possible at the eventual landfall location. Since 93L is so small, the computer models are having trouble seeing the system, and are not very helpful forecasting the behavior of the storm over the Gulf of Mexico. The Hurricane Hunters are on call to fly into 93L Thursday afternoon at 2pm EDT, if necessary.

Central Caribbean disturbance
Moisture and heavy thunderstorm activity continues to slowly increase in the region between Central America and Jamaica, and wind shear is falling. With wind shear now 20 - 30 knots, we can expect this disturbance to show increased organization today, and recent satellite images show the beginnings of a surface circulation trying to get going about 100 miles off the coast of Northeast Nicaragua. All of the computer models predict that an area of low pressure will form in this region by Thursday, and this low will have the potential to develop into a tropical depression late this week or early next week. A surge of moisture accompanying a tropical wave currently south of Hispaniola may aid development when the wave arrives in the Western Caribbean on Thursday. Water temperatures in the Central Caribbean are about 1°C above average, 29°C, which is plenty warm enough to support development of a tropical storm. Residents of Jamaica, Cuba, the Cayman Islands, Haiti, Honduras, and Nicaragua should anticipate the possibility that heavy rains of 2 - 4 inches may affect them Thursday through Saturday this week.


Figure 4. Satellite image of the Central Caribbean disturbance.

Catch my intro to the 2011 hurricane season on Internet radio
I'll be discussing the coming hurricane season on our Internet radio show, the Daily Downpour, tomorrow (Thursday) at 4:30pm EDT. Fellow wunderground meteorologists Shaun Tanner and Tim Roche will be hosting the show. We'll talk about the latest model runs, hurricane research, modeling accuracy, and hurricane climatology, and answer any questions listeners email in or call in. The email address to ask questions is broadcast@wunderground.com. Welcome to the hurricane season of 2011!

Jeff Masters

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Fleet Weather Center Norfolk Tropical Feed
No Active Tropical Warnings in the Atlantic, Caribbean, or Gulf of Mexico
By Maritime.CDO@navy.mil (FWC-N CDO) from Fleet Weather Center Norfolk Virginia. Published on Wed, Jun 01, 2011.

As of Wed, 01 Jun 2011 23:30:01 GMT
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Who thinks the Caribbean disturbance's odds will be upped by next GTWO?
Member Since: May 15, 2009 Posts: 405 Comments: 675
Quoting alfabob:

Then why are winds moving @100 degrees at the buoy @ (28.500 N 84.517W)? 93L looks to be WSW of Tampa.



Just posting the current facts.
Member Since: January 30, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 3259
93L Floater - Rainbow Color Infrared Loop


Click the Box marked, "Fronts"
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 414 Comments: 125613
And may I also say that I'm not so surprised to see a hot end to May,and hot start to June.I expected this.Usually(where I live)when the first to middel half of May is cool and damp we usually have a hot end.Anyone remember 2008?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Q: What will 93L be given?

A. Yellow - Near 0%

B. Yellow - 10%

C. Yellow - 20%

D. Orange - 30% or higher.

I got C.


C or D 30%
Member Since: December 21, 2007 Posts: 13 Comments: 3026
Quoting washingtonian115:
As we all know Alex took DAYS to develope.So people who are currently watching this feature don't expect a quick spinner-upper.


Good rule of thumb is add 36 to 48 hours to what you would normally think.
Member Since: January 30, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 3259
984. IKE

Quoting PcolaDan:


I've pretty much guaranteed it to rain here. After sitting on the bus in 100 degree weather for 5 hours this afternoon, I left the windows and top vents open. :) (of course it will only rain over the bus and not at my house) :(
It's drying up before it reaches me:(


Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
975. FrankZapper 11:31 PM GMT on June 01, 2011
Record heat here today Why is it so hot so Early.Global warming? Sunspots? Holes in the ozone layer? Alien climate manipulation? Natural cycle? Just a lot of hot air? And will this heat wave make for more intense storms this season?


Those ancient aliens get around.....as well as ManBearPig.... I'm cereal....
Member Since: January 24, 2007 Posts: 316 Comments: 31944
Quoting MississippiWx:
93L is still pretty disorganized. No evidence of a closed circulation at all and whatever circulation is at the surface is weak. I see too many outflow boundaries streaming away from the main convective mass, meaning the convection is probably going to collapse. A developing, strengthening tropical system would not be sending outflow boundaries away from its center. Some of this probably has to do with the very dry environment surrounding 93L. As the NHC has mentioned already, conditions are marginal at best for development. I think our main worry is going to be in the SW Caribbean, but it will take a few days for a consolidated area of low pressure to develop since that disturbance will be originating out of the monsoon trough similar to Alex last year.
As we all know Alex took DAYS to develope.So people who are currently watching this feature don't expect a quick spinner-upper.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I don't know there was decent surprise when the nhc made 93L 30% earlier, so I wouldn't be surprised if they upped it again...it gives them more room to negotiate with if it goes TD or TS.
Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4355
Quoting MrstormX:
93L INVEST 110601 1200 30.0N 78.3W ATL 25 1013
93L INVEST 110601 0600 31.1N 76.2W ATL 25 1017
93L INVEST 110601 0000 32.2N 74.0W ATL 25 1017
93L INVEST 110531 1800 33.7N 72.1W ATL 25 1017
93L INVEST 110531 1200 35.3N 70.9W ATL 25 1017
93L INVEST 110531 0600 37.1N 70.3W ATL 20 1018
93L INVEST 110531 0000 38.7N 69.9W ATL 20 1018



01/1745 UTC 29.5N 80.7W T1.0/1.0 93L -- Atlantic
01/1145 UTC 30.4N 78.3W T1.0/1.0 93L -- Atlantic
Member Since: January 30, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 3259
Quoting IKE:

Thanks. I'm at 97.3 outside my window @ 6:01 pm CDST.


I've pretty much guaranteed it to rain here. After sitting on the bus in 100 degree weather for 5 hours this afternoon, I left the windows and top vents open. :) (of course it will only rain over the bus and not at my house) :(
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Q: What will 93L be given?

A. Yellow - Near 0%

B. Yellow - 10%

C. Yellow - 20%

D. Orange - 30% or higher.

I got C.

C
Member Since: August 9, 2009 Posts: 10 Comments: 4499
Record heat here today Why is it so hot so Early.Global warming? Sunspots? Holes in the ozone layer? Alien climate manipulation? Natural cycle? Just a lot of hot air? And will this heat wave make for more intense storms this season?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Thank you NIC, she will be ok. It is amazing how this little storm effected some. I just wonder what it might be up to next!
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Quoting NHCaddict:
Goodbye my Little Tropical Blob-let! Thanks for the rain you brought to central FL, and I wish you could have stayed around a bit longer:) Now go be a good Little Tropical Blob-let and bring some nice rain to some other folks who need it.


rofl
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Q: What will 93L be given?

A. Yellow - Near 0%

B. Yellow - 10%

C. Yellow - 20%

D. Orange - 30% or higher.

I got C.


Stay the same C.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Well you all didn't guess it.It's June 1st.So it's the start of the season.I just hope it's like last year.Where the U.S is greatly spared.But when you see a blocking pattern over the great lakes...that can't be good for the upcoming season....
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1st Death from the Springfield Tornado reported
Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4355
Quoting MrstormX:


D.


C. Having a surface trough attached is going to make the NHC skeptical about development.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
93L SPC Mesoscale Analysis
Auto-refresh is set to every minute [OFF 1 min 5 min]
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 414 Comments: 125613
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Q: What will 93L be given?

A. Yellow - Near 0%

B. Yellow - 10%

C. Yellow - 20%

D. Orange - 30% or higher.

I got C.


C!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
93L is still pretty disorganized. No evidence of a closed circulation at all and whatever circulation is at the surface is weak. I see too many outflow boundaries streaming away from the main convective mass, meaning the convection is probably going to collapse. A developing, strengthening tropical system would not be sending outflow boundaries away from its center. Some of this probably has to do with the very dry environment surrounding 93L. As the NHC has mentioned already, conditions are marginal at best for development. I think our main worry is going to be in the SW Caribbean, but it will take a few days for a consolidated area of low pressure to develop since that disturbance will be originating out of the monsoon trough similar to Alex last year.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
93L INVEST 110601 1200 30.0N 78.3W ATL 25 1013
93L INVEST 110601 0600 31.1N 76.2W ATL 25 1017
93L INVEST 110601 0000 32.2N 74.0W ATL 25 1017
93L INVEST 110531 1800 33.7N 72.1W ATL 25 1017
93L INVEST 110531 1200 35.3N 70.9W ATL 25 1017
93L INVEST 110531 0600 37.1N 70.3W ATL 20 1018
93L INVEST 110531 0000 38.7N 69.9W ATL 20 1018
Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4355
June activity is never an indicator of an active season.. just puttin that out there. Though it does make the case for an active season more solid..
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 23012
Quoting mermaidlaw:
Hello everyone, I am swimming back in for the season. I just wanted to say that 93L was a bad storm here in Hernando county FL. My daughter in Spring hill has a flooded house, and a tree down that was struck by lightening in her back yard. Whatever 93L is, she has a punch! Stay safe everyone! I have missed you all!

I wish all in need of rain to get what you need. Please be prepared!


I think that that flooded house makes a statement about the way 93L was being joked about this morning on here. Looks like it had more rain than anticipated. Sorry to hear about this, hope the damage isn't too bad.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Q: What will 93L be given?

A. Yellow - Near 0%

B. Yellow - 10%

C. Yellow - 20%

D. Orange - 30% or higher.

I got C.


D.
Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4355
The low associated with 93L was indeed relocated to 29N 84.1W or close to it. It's pressure is now 1015 and there is a surface trough attached to it.
Member Since: January 30, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 3259
Hello everyone, I am swimming back in for the season. I just wanted to say that 93L was a bad storm here in Hernando county FL. My daughter in Spring hill has a flooded house, and a tree down that was struck by lightening in her back yard. Whatever 93L is, she has a punch! Stay safe everyone! I have missed you all!

I wish all in need of rain to get what you need. Please be prepared!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Q: What will 93L be given?

A. Yellow - Near 0%

B. Yellow - 10%

C. Yellow - 20%

D. Orange - 30% or higher.

I got C.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 108 Comments: 30257
They better re-center that floater for 93L.
Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4355
Quoting Tazmanian:



they do it all the time it has too be at lest %20 oder for we to get 94L


or some in like that


Ok.
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rammb.cira.colostate.edu Currently Active Tropical Cyclones
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 414 Comments: 125613
000
NOUS42 KNHC 011515
WEATHER RECONNAISSANCE FLIGHTS
CARCAH, NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER, MIAMI, FL.
1115 AM EDT WED 01 JUNE 2011
SUBJECT: TROPICAL STORM STORM PLAN OF THE DAY (TSPOD)
VALID 02/1100Z TO 03/1100Z JUNE 2011
WSPOD NUMBER.....11-001

I. ATLANTIC REQUIREMENTS
1. SUSPECT AREA -- GULF OF MEXICO
FLIGHT ONE -- TEAL 70 FLIGHT TWO -- TEAL 71
A. 02/1800Z A. 03/1200Z
B. AFXXX 01AAA INVEST B. AFXXX 0201A CYCLONE
C. 02/1700Z C. 03/1000Z
D. 28.0N 87.0W D. 28.0N 94.0W
E. 02/1730Z TO 02/2200Z E. 03/1100Z TO 03/1600Z
F. SFC TO 10,000 FT. F. SFC TO 10,000 FT.
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Quoting Bitmap7:


So why does the nhc have a yellow circle on it?



they do it all the time it has too be at lest %20 oder for we to get 94L


or some in like that
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Matt Noyes at NECN deserves some kind of award for his excellent coverage and moment by moment live analysis of the tornadoes in MA. He is not only reporting, he is teaching and warning and analysing constantly and I don't think I've heard him say "Um" once. I say he deserves a serious pay raise for his efforts today.
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Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 414 Comments: 125613
Quoting Tazmanian:



nop


So why does the nhc have a yellow circle on it?
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:


I doubt that. They will probably leave at 20%, or at the most, upgrade to 30%.


Yup. I'm betting on 20%. Someone needs to start a poll. :)
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Quoting Bitmap7:
Isn't the Caribbean feature invested yet?



nop
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Isn't the Caribbean feature invested yet?
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Quoting HurricaneDean07:
Probably Upgrade the % to 40 to 60%. Depending on what the Hurricane Hunters find will determine if we have TD 1 tomorrow...


I doubt that. They will probably leave at 20%, or at the most, upgrade to 30%.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 108 Comments: 30257
Lots of damage in Southbridge, Mass.
Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4355
Quoting eyestalker:
IF both 93L and the Caribbean feature develop...I can honestly tell you we're going to have a more active season than 2010. Last year we didn't get a single CV storm until quite late in the year...almost the end of August...whereas in 2008 we had em comin' consistently from the beginning of July to the end of September. Overall 2008 was a MUCH more fun year to track because it was more of a spread-out season similar to 2005 as far as activity and the tracks were certainly enticing compared to last year's parade of fish storms.


If by 'active' you mean total number of storms, I wouldn't be so sure, neutral/2nd year La Ninas tend to have a much less active Cape Verde season. May all be 'fish storms', but it sure racks up the numbers.
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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.