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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1594. ackee
Quoting NICycloneChaser:


Why not? Environmental conditions will be favorable and all of the models have been developing it for almost a week now. Shouldn't be a very strong storm, but it has a fairly good chance of becoming one.
I know but looking outside of model suport dont see much sign of tropical devlopment I have seen invest before with model suport and good envormental condtion that has not devlop ,before that what I think will happen here just my view on things
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expect we will see more problems with nhc all their shear maps ext as the money runs out. nhc is having problems with their website now
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Very true. The last hurricane season La Nina was 2007, and the following year, which was neutral, had slightly more activity. And there's the obvious 2005, which was neutral.
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Quoting ackee:
I dont think the the area of LOW pressure in the SW CARRB will be much more that a big rain maker ,also it seem like there is another low near jamaica and haiti as well.


Why not? Environmental conditions will be favorable and all of the models have been developing it for almost a week now. Shouldn't be a very strong storm, but it has a fairly good chance of becoming one.
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Quoting TomTaylor:
Last year we had a true La Nina. Of the three different ENSO phases, the La Nina phase creates the most active Atlantic hurricane season. Followed by neutral years, and then El Nino years. This year we have more like neutral conditions. Additionally, SSTs are cooler this year relative to last year.

However, several things are still in favor of an above average season...

1. It is an ENSO neutral year...which is typically more busy than an El Nino year

2. SSTs are above average

3. Relative to other basins, our basin is the warmest anomaly-wise.

4. Models (ECMWF and CFS...the UKMET predicts otherwise) are predicting a wetter environment and lower pressures relative to average over the MDR and Cape Verde area. This is most likely due to the cooling waters over the Gulf of Guinea. Forecasted sheer over the Atlantic is also supposed to be below average accordingto the CFS (UKMET and ECMWF have no forecast on sheer)

5. Analog years are mostly above average


In recent decades, there has been no discernible difference between La Nina years and ENSO neutral years, with regard to the Atlantic hurricane season.
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Also convection seems to be firing near the COC(?) on 93L
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I put out a new Blog Update
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1587. ackee
I dont think the the area of LOW pressure in the SW CARRB will be much more that a big rain maker ,also it seem like there is another low near jamaica and haiti as well.
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1585. xcool
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15603
1583. xcool
lol
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15603
New convection firing in 93L

Is there anyone left on her btw?
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Quoting xcool:
hmmm


"hmm" is right.
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1580. xcool
hmmm
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15603

Quoting Levi32:
 We still have many days to wait for this system.
It should be noted that the longer it takes to develop, the greater the window of opportunity into the Gulf.
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TROPICAL WEATHER OUTLOOK
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
200 AM EDT THU JUN 2 2011

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

SHOWER AND THUNDERSTORM ACTIVITY HAS DIMINISHED IN ASSOCIATION WITH
A WEAKENING SURFACE TROUGH OVER THE NORTH-CENTRAL GULF OF MEXICO.
THERE IS A LOW CHANCE...NEAR 0 PERCENT...OF THIS SYSTEM BECOMING A
TROPICAL CYCLONE DURING THE NEXT 48 HOURS AS IT MOVES
WEST-SOUTHWESTWARD AT 25 MPH.

A LARGE AREA OF CLOUDINESS AND SHOWERS OVER THE SOUTHWESTERN AND
WEST-CENTRAL CARIBBEAN SEA IS ASSOCIATED WITH A SURFACE TROUGH. ANY
DEVELOPMENT OF THIS SYSTEM IS EXPECTED TO BE SLOW TO OCCUR AS IT
REMAINS NEARLY STATIONARY. ALTHOUGH THERE IS ONLY A LOW
CHANCE...10 PERCENT...OF THIS SYSTEM BECOMING A TROPICAL CYCLONE
DURING THE NEXT 48 HOURS...ENVIRONMENTAL CONDITIONS ARE FORECAST TO
BECOME MORE FAVORABLE FOR DEVELOPMENT AFTER THAT TIME.

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

$$
FORECASTER BLAKE
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I guess some like it hot...
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Quoting CyclonicVoyage:


Indeed. Neutral's tend to focus development further west in the MDR (Main Development Region)in the Atlantic, thus increasing the risk to the Caribbean and the US. Due in part to a stronger Atlantic ridge increasing the trade winds in the eastern Atlantic. I've read a couple papers on the subject which state neutral years significantly decrease the chances of a storm hitting the east coast north of Florida's latitude. I find it interesting that CSU's new forecast's analog years mostly target the upper east coast.
Well they significantly decrease the odds relative to La Nina years, but they're about equal to the odds during El Nino years.
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Quoting scott39:I wonder why the number of 2011 TCs predictions are lower than last years.....Yet there seems to be overall better ingredients in the forecast this year.
Last year we had a true La Nina. Of the three different ENSO phases, the La Nina phase creates the most active Atlantic hurricane season. Followed by neutral years, and then El Nino years. This year we have more like neutral conditions. Additionally, SSTs are cooler this year relative to last year.

However, several things are still in favor of an above average season...

1. It is an ENSO neutral year...which is typically more busy than an El Nino year

2. SSTs are above average

3. Relative to other basins, our basin is the warmest anomaly-wise.

4. Models (ECMWF and CFS...the UKMET predicts otherwise) are predicting a wetter environment and lower pressures relative to average over the MDR and Cape Verde area. This is most likely due to the cooling waters over the Gulf of Guinea. Forecasted sheer over the Atlantic is also supposed to be below average accordingto the CFS (UKMET and ECMWF have no forecast on sheer)

5. Analog years are mostly above average
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Quoting HotBreeze:



Si la ignorancia es dicha usted debe ser un campista feliz.
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Updates every 15 minutes
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Quoting EricSFL:
HB = Offensive and intolerable.


Seems like he hitted the Recline button... and a pair of Air Force F-16 fighter jets took action... BeeedTiiime
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1568. EricSFL
HB = Offensive and intolerable.
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1566. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
out till the am
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1564. Levi32
The wave is stringing out the Caribbean low as we knew it would. This will postpone the consolidation process. We still have many days to wait for this system.

Goodnight all. 'Til tomorrow.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 628 Comments: 26455
Quoting JLPR2:


Yeah, but the strongest vort is at the Central America coast, where the latest surface map showed our low.
Maybe the TW will end up getting a spin and eating the weak low.


Once shear relaxes, all of that mess will move westward and colocate with the low pressure. It really is a big mess right now.
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1562. xcool
GFS 00Z shows nooo development
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15603
1561. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
xx/xx/xx
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Quoting CyclonicVoyage:
93L is done. Pressure up to 1016 and the high just to it's west is 1019.


Not surprising at all. Expected it to collapse when it exited out over the Gulf of Mexico.
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1559. Levi32
0z CMC has a hurricane in the NW Caribbean by Day 6.

FSU finally got around to fully discontinuing UKMET imagery. The 0z UKMET looks weaker but still has a 1003mb tropical storm in the NW Caribbean by day 6, still fairly consistent.



Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 628 Comments: 26455
1558. xcool
rip 93L POOF .
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15603
93L is done. Pressure up to 1016 and the high just to it's west is 1019.
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1556. JLPR2
Well off to study for my last marketing exam -.-
1am isn't exactly the best study time, but ehh...

I'm out for two hours. :P
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Quoting EricSFL:


One would think the developing low to be located in the vicinity of Jamaica and Haiti since most convection is located there. The area even appears to have a banding feature to its north.


Thats all misleading. All surface observations and low level vorticity analysis indicate the developing low resides off the Central Nicaraguan coast.
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Quoting EricSFL:


One would think the developing low to be located in the vicinity of Jamaica and Haiti since most convection is located there. The area even appears to have a banding feature to its north.



Pressures are still high in the area, not a concern ATM. The wave is entering a region ripe with moisture and energy. Not saying it can't develop as some models are hinting but, it's not showing any signs at the surface.

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1553. JLPR2
Quoting EricSFL:


One would think the developing low to be located in the vicinity of Jamaica and Haiti since most convection is located there. The area even appears to have a banding feature to its north.


Yeah, but the strongest vort is at the Central America coast, where the latest surface map showed our low.
Maybe the TW will end up getting a spin and eating the weak low.
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1551. Bitmap7
Quoting KoritheMan:


I don't closely follow NOGAPS like I do the GFS, so I really don't know. Sorry I couldn't be more helpful.


No problem. Thanks for your analysis. That gfs needs to make up its mind soon imo. Each run varies from one extreme to the next. I would like to see the ukmet , but its now banned from the moe.met.fsu site apparently.
Goodnight folks, I am out.
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1550. EricSFL
Quoting JLPR2:


TW firing up nicely, while our low sits with "little clothes" near the coast of Central America.


One would think the developing low to be located in the vicinity of Jamaica and Haiti since most convection is located there. The area even appears to have a banding feature to its north.
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Quoting Bitmap7:


Thank you. When does the Nogaps start?


I don't closely follow NOGAPS like I do the GFS, so I really don't know. Sorry I couldn't be more helpful.
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Hey... be carefull with that recline button.... please ....

Airplane annoyance leads to brouhaha in the skies over D.C.
Washington Post
- Wed Jun 1, 11:28 am ET

Before things got out of hand, it was a typical annoyance that happens once a flight gets airborne: A passenger hit the recline button and sent his seat intimately close to the lap of the guy sitting behind him.

What followed wasn%u2019t typical at all: a smack to the head, peacemakers diving about the cabin to intervene and a pair of Air Force F-16 fighter jets scrambling into the night skies over Washington.

It happened late Sunday, just after a United Airlines Boeing 767 bound for Ghana with 144 passengers took off from Dulles International Airport......

Link
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1547. scott39
Quoting CyclonicVoyage:


Indeed. Neutral's tend to focus development further west in the MDR (Main Development Region)in the Atlantic, thus increasing the risk to the Caribbean and the US. Due in part to a stronger Atlantic ridge increasing the trade winds in the eastern Atlantic. I've read a couple papers on the subject which state neutral years significantly decrease the chances of a storm hitting the east coast north of Florida's latitude. I find it interesting that CSU's new forecast's analog years mostly target the upper east coast.
Maybe Bastardi works for the CSU! Thanks for the info.
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Quoting skook:
Link

NHK World

Snow on Fukushima peaks found to be radioactive

Snow in the mountains in Fukushima Prefecture is showing radioactive contamination at levels above the safety limit for drinking water.

Researchers from Fukushima University performed the analysis with a local environmental group. They sampled snow in 31 locations and at different altitudes from 7 peaks around Fukushima city, from mid-April through early May.

The results showed that snow in 14 locations contained more than 200 becquerels per kilogram of radioactive cesium, the adult safe limit for drinking water.

A sample of snow from an altitude of 1,300 meters contained 3,000 becquerels of cesium.

Fukushima University Vice-President Akira Watanabe specializes in meteorology and says the data support his team's analysis that radioactive substances scattered at an altitude of 1,300 meters.

He is urging mountain climbers not to drink river water or gather edible wild plants, now that high levels of radioactivity in the snow have been confirmed.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011 15:40 +0900 (JST)


It's going to be a dead zone before all is said and done, really sad....
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Quoting scott39:
So less TCs than last season...But more potiential to hit land?
theoretically, yes.
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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.