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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Quoting xcool:


12z cmc


Holy crap. Significant hurricane into south Florida. Silly CMC..
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Show me the shear!


All I see is 5-15 knots in it's forecast path, till it gets near LA.
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142. Skyepony (Mod)
93L is really stacked horribly. The most 850 vorticity has it much farther north than what radar eludes to. Could hold it back some as this gets more land disruption from the northern Gulf Coast.
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RITA wins the Rorschach Test Lagniappe prize


Congrats u win a antique Paper 7-Eleven Hurricane Tracking Map...with SSS Glossary.


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Quoting RitaEvac:
I see a dinosaur where the loop current is



LOL. Someone has to save that before it updates.
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I was not thinking we would get this much rain in SE Otown. Been raining heavy for awhile with lots of lightning. Wish more could get in on the action
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138. xcool


12z cmc
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The toasty waters of Lake Apopka.
Current Temperature:
79°

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Quoting IceCoast:
Away from the tropical weather for a moment, we have a large tornado watch for the northeast. A warm front pushed through my house around 8:30 am and brought some pretty strong storms with 1 inch hail, rare for my area. Cold front is now expected to pass between 4-5 pm and bring the main show.
At a golf course in southern NH, will be sure to take some pictures and post them later.


Thanks IceCoast. I'm up here in the NE too. We got the storm at 6:30am...right over my house. We've had too many tornado watches and warnings this season. I learned from a friend in Ohio that if your car gets dented by hail you can try setting pieces of dry ice into the indents and that often pops the dents back out. Of course not only wear gloves but also handle the dry ice with layers of paper. That's mean stuff!

I'm on board again for the wild ride of Hurricane Season. Sending best wishes to all~!!
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I got my re-entery badge renewed
Got my bottle water and supplies updated
Got my phone list updated
Ran my generator
Filled boat with fuel (expensive)
Filled spare fuel cans (also expensive)
Check all insurance papers updated and copies made
Checked battery supplies
Get extra propane tanks/charcoal for pit

Don't forget to update your Hurricane Supplies folks if you havent already.


Member Since: August 23, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 1918
The NHC seems more concerned about marginal conditions in the GOM than the trek over Florida tearing it apart. Not agreeing or disagreeing.
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133. xcool
EYEStoSEA .you sure about that..hmmm lol
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A little visual.



2011 is starting out busy.
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That "Pre" stuff never seems to work out,,so I always,avoid that term.

We had some declaring "Pre 93L" in the Carribean for 48 till the CONUS/Atlantic Meso Screamer stole it Last evening like the last turn in the Indy 500 Sunday...
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I see a dinosaur where the loop current is

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Quoting reedzone:
TWC has lost it.. There is no high wind shear that will tear 93L apart.. Wow.. please point out where the so called high wind shear is? Seriously, the shear map shows favorable conditions.. It's a matter of how much of the system is left when it enters the GOM. Please.. point out the shear.



dude...you established yesterday this is YOUR invest...we're listenin' to you...you own it...
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NHC have labeled the disturbance in the carribean. And
they reduced 93l's formation chances down to......20 percent.
I think that small but cute fella will still have chances of formation, If so, then it might have the record for being the smallest tropical cyclone.
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It's no wonder people are so ill informed, they tune in to TWC and hear shear in the gulf, they tune out and say "nope nothing going on"
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http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/goes/east/carb/flash-avn.ht ml

(corrected link)

Anybody notice the "spin" just to the west of that big blob in the carrib?

(look at the last couple of frames)
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New TWO outlook out. 93L at 20%, pre-94L at 10%.
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Quoting xcool:
94L COME soon


good,xcool,good....everybody hyped-up and ready....:]
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TWC has lost it.. There is no high wind shear that will tear 93L apart.. Wow.. please point out where the so called high wind shear is? Seriously, the shear map shows favorable conditions.. It's a matter of how much of the system is left when it enters the GOM. Please.. point out the shear.
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Two yellows now: http://www.nhc.noaa.gov

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2 invests coming on the same day on the first day of hurricane season
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I want to see an analog storm with the track of 93L....How 'bout it weather geeks?
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TROPICAL WEATHER OUTLOOK
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
200 PM EDT WED JUN 1 2011

FOR THE NORTH ATLANTIC...CARIBBEAN SEA AND THE GULF OF MEXICO...

A SMALL AREA OF LOW PRESSURE LOCATED JUST TO THE EAST OF DAYTONA
BEACH FLORIDA IS MOVING WEST-SOUTHWESTWARD NEAR 20 MPH WITH
ASSOCIATED SHOWER AND THUNDERSTORM ACTIVITY SPREADING OVER PORTIONS
OF NORTHERN AND CENTRAL FLORIDA. SIGNIFICANT DEVELOPMENT OF THIS
SYSTEM IS NOT ANTICIPATED WHILE IT MOVES OVER LAND TODAY AND
TONIGHT...AND ENVIRONMENTAL CONDITIONS ARE ONLY MARGINALLY
FAVORABLE FOR DEVELOPMENT OVER THE NORTHERN GULF OF MEXICO ON
THURSDAY. LOCALLY HEAVY RAINFALL AND GUSTY WINDS ARE POSSIBLE OVER
NORTH-CENTRAL FLORIDA THROUGH TONIGHT. THERE IS A LOW CHANCE...20
PERCENT...OF THIS SYSTEM BECOMING A TROPICAL CYCLONE DURING THE
NEXT 48 HOURS. FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ON THIS SYSTEM...PLEASE
SEE PRODUCTS FROM YOUR LOCAL NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE OFFICE.

DISORGANIZED CLOUDINESS AND SHOWERS OVER THE SOUTHWESTERN AND
WEST-CENTRAL CARIBBEAN SEA ARE ASSOCIATED WITH A BROAD SURFACE
TROUGH. SOME GRADUAL DEVELOPMENT OF THIS SYSTEM IS POSSIBLE ONCE
UPPER-LEVEL WINDS BECOME A LITTLE MORE CONDUCIVE LATE THURSDAY AND
FRIDAY. THERE IS A LOW CHANCE...10 PERCENT...OF THIS SYSTEM
BECOMING A TROPICAL CYCLONE AS IT MOVES LITTLE DURING THE NEXT 48
HOURS.

ELSEWHERE...TROPICAL CYCLONE FORMATION IS NOT EXPECTED DURING THE
NEXT 48 HOURS.
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117. xcool
94L COME soon
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There is finally a TWO on the area in the southwest Caribbean.
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Quoting Patrap:
93L has tugged a tad right of the track last few frames,,maybe some Land friction involved with that.


Yep...lol..thinking, ya think all these folks know what a "tad" is....at least land friction is better than a mountain range to get it across FL into GOM..
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This season is already more fun than all of last season.
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http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/goes/east/carb/flash-avn.ht ml

Anybody notice the "spin" just to the west of that big blob in the carrib?

(look at the last couple of frames)
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112. HCW
20% and code yellow now 2pm update
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Quoting Patrap:
93L has tugged a tad right of the track last few frames,,maybe some Land friction involved with that.


stop it
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TROPICAL WEATHER OUTLOOK
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
200 PM EDT WED JUN 1 2011

FOR THE NORTH ATLANTIC...CARIBBEAN SEA AND THE GULF OF MEXICO...

A SMALL AREA OF LOW PRESSURE LOCATED JUST TO THE EAST OF DAYTONA
BEACH FLORIDA IS MOVING WEST-SOUTHWESTWARD NEAR 20 MPH WITH
ASSOCIATED SHOWER AND THUNDERSTORM ACTIVITY SPREADING OVER PORTIONS
OF NORTHERN AND CENTRAL FLORIDA. SIGNIFICANT DEVELOPMENT OF THIS
SYSTEM IS NOT ANTICIPATED WHILE IT MOVES OVER LAND TODAY AND
TONIGHT...AND ENVIRONMENTAL CONDITIONS ARE ONLY MARGINALLY
FAVORABLE FOR DEVELOPMENT OVER THE NORTHERN GULF OF MEXICO ON
THURSDAY. LOCALLY HEAVY RAINFALL AND GUSTY WINDS ARE POSSIBLE OVER
NORTH-CENTRAL FLORIDA THROUGH TONIGHT. THERE IS A LOW CHANCE...20
PERCENT...OF THIS SYSTEM BECOMING A TROPICAL CYCLONE DURING THE
NEXT 48 HOURS. FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ON THIS SYSTEM...PLEASE
SEE PRODUCTS FROM YOUR LOCAL NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE OFFICE.

DISORGANIZED CLOUDINESS AND SHOWERS OVER THE SOUTHWESTERN AND
WEST-CENTRAL CARIBBEAN SEA ARE ASSOCIATED WITH A BROAD SURFACE
TROUGH. SOME GRADUAL DEVELOPMENT OF THIS SYSTEM IS POSSIBLE ONCE
UPPER-LEVEL WINDS BECOME A LITTLE MORE CONDUCIVE LATE THURSDAY AND
FRIDAY. THERE IS A LOW CHANCE...10 PERCENT...OF THIS SYSTEM
BECOMING A TROPICAL CYCLONE AS IT MOVES LITTLE DURING THE NEXT 48
HOURS.

ELSEWHERE...TROPICAL CYCLONE FORMATION IS NOT EXPECTED DURING THE
NEXT 48 HOURS.

ALL NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER TEXT AND GRAPHICAL PRODUCTS ARE
AVAILABLE ON THE WEB AT WWW.HURRICANES.GOV. SIGN UP FOR PRODUCT
UPDATES BY EMAIL AT WWW.HURRICANES.GOV/SIGNUP.SHTML...IN ALL LOWER
CASE. YOU CAN ALSO INTERACT WITH US ON FACEBOOK AT
WWW.FACEBOOK.COM/US.NOAA.NATIONALHURRICANECENTER. GOV.

$$
FORECASTER BERG/PASCH
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Atlantic Floaters

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Thompson water seal is flammable, 93L is the match
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Skye, that is an interesting phenomenon. Could be due to the inflow on the SW side being laden with gulf moisture and then converging fictionally on the coast. Neat observation in any case. And to those misinterpreting my statement, any tornado can be dangerous. But you aren't likely to see big wedge EF-3 or higher out of a system not being caused by strongly baroclinic forcing. We could see several EF-0s and EF-1s, and they are dangerous, but dont confuse them with the outbreaks we've had earlier.
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104. Skyepony (Mod)
Quoting MrstormX:
Does the fact that 93L originated from land mean it might have an easier time passing over Florida, just a curiosity?


I would think so looking at climo. A good tenacious twist tends to last longer over land & landcanes are quick to make hurricanes. I'm reminded of Ivan 2004 & that small H storm that got TX, good twist though NM.
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UKMET has been the most consistent model so far. Once again the 12z run confirms it.

Link
Member Since: April 29, 2009 Posts: 75 Comments: 14009
93L has tugged a tad right of the track last few frames,,maybe some Land friction involved with that.
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100. IKE

Quoting CanesfanatUT:


Are we DOOM, Ike??
It's inevitable:(
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
Given the CMC model run has DestinJeff changed the DOOMCON yet?
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Away from the tropical weather for a moment, we have a large tornado watch for the northeast. A warm front pushed through my house around 8:30 am and brought some pretty strong storms with 1 inch hail, rare for my area. Cold front is now expected to pass between 4-5 pm and bring the main show.
At a golf course in southern NH, will be sure to take some pictures and post them later.
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Quoting MrstormX:
Does the fact that 93L originated from land mean it might have an easier time passing over Florida, just a curiosity?
TMK, doesn't make a difference. African waves technically originate from land, too.
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Quoting Jax82:
CMC = creates monster canes
CMC = Constantly Making Cyclones.
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Does the fact that 93L originated from land mean it might have an easier time passing over Florida, just a curiosity?
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94. Skyepony (Mod)
Quoting SouthALWX:
Most any meso low with sufficient instability can spin up a tornado. The intensity and duration of a tornado however from a system like 93L would almost certainly be small.


Usually when these cross FL the exit side seems to see any or the most waterspouts/tornadoes near the coast.
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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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