CSU: expect a quiet 2012 Atlantic hurricane season; EF-3 tornado confirmed in Texas

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:47 PM GMT on April 05, 2012

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Expect one of the quietest Atlantic hurricane seasons since 1995 this year, say the hurricane forecasting team of Dr. Phil Klotzbach and Dr. Bill Gray of Colorado State University (CSU) in their latest seasonal forecast issued April 4. They call for an Atlantic hurricane season with below-average activity: 10 named storms, 4 hurricanes, and 2 intense hurricanes. An average season has 10 - 11 named storms, 6 hurricanes, and 2 intense hurricanes. The 2012 forecast calls for a below-average chance of a major hurricane hitting the U.S., both along the East Coast (24% chance, 31% chance is average) and the Gulf Coast (24% chance, 30% chance is average). The Caribbean is forecast to have a 34% chance of seeing at least one major hurricane (42% is average.) Four years with similar pre-season March atmospheric and oceanic conditions were selected as "analogue" years that the 2012 hurricane season may resemble: 2009, 2001, 1965, and 1957. These years all had neutral to El Niño conditions during hurricane season. The average activity for these years was 9.5 named storms, 4.8 hurricanes, and 2.3 major hurricanes.


Figure 1. Departure of sea surface temperature (SST) from average for April 5, 2012, as computed by NOAA's NESDIS branch. SSTs in the hurricane Main Development Region (red box) were near average to below-average.

Why the forecast of a quiet season?
The CSU team cited two main reasons why this may be a quieter than average hurricane season:

1) La Niña has weakened rapidly over the tropical Eastern Pacific over the past month, and is expected to be gone by the end of April. In its wake, El Niño conditions may develop in time for the August - September - October peak of hurricane season. If El Niño conditions are present this fall, this will likely bring about a quiet Atlantic hurricane season due to increased upper-level winds over the tropical Atlantic creating wind shear that will tend to tear storms apart. The CSU team is leaning towards putting their trust in the ECMWF model, which is predicting that a weak El Niño event will be in place by fall.

2) Sea surface temperatures (SSTs) in the Main Development Region (MDR) for hurricanes from the Caribbean to the coast of Africa between 10°N and 20°N were near average to below average in March 2012. Virtually all African waves originate in the MDR, and 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.) Conversely, when MDR SSTs are cooler than average, a below-average Atlantic hurricane season is more likely. This year's SSTs in the MDR are among the coolest we've seen since our current active hurricane period began in 1995. The cool temperatures are largely due to strong surface winds that blew during the winter over the tropical Atlantic in response to the positive phase of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO.) The strong winds stirred up the water, bringing up cooler waters from the depths.

How good are the April forecasts?
The forecasters are using a new statistical model developed last year for making April forecasts, so we don't have a long enough track record to judge how good the new model is. The new model correctly predicted a more active than average season for last year, though called for more activity than was actually observed. However, April forecasts of hurricane season activity are low-skill, since they must deal with the so-called "predictability barrier." April is the time of year when the El Niño/La Niña phenomenon commonly undergoes a rapid change from one state to another, making it difficult to predict whether we will have El Niño, La Niña, or neutral conditions in place for the coming hurricane season. Correctly predicting this is key, since if El Niño, conditions are present this fall, this will likely bring about a quiet Atlantic hurricane season due to increased upper-level winds over the tropical Atlantic creating wind shear that will tend to tear storms apart.

CSU maintains an Excel spreadsheet of their forecast errors ( expressed as a mathematical correlation coefficient, where positive means a skilled forecast, and negative means they did worse than climatology) for their their April forecasts. For now, these April forecasts should simply be viewed as an interesting research effort that has the potential to make skillful forecasts. The next CSU forecast, due by June 1, is the one worth paying attention to. Their early June forecasts have shown considerable skill over the years.

Preliminary NWS survey of the April 3rd, 2012 Dallas, Texas tornadoes
The Fort Worth Weather Service office began surveying tornado damage yesterday from three tornadoes that ripped through the Dallas metro area on Tuesday afternoon. Official storm surveys will be released in the next few days. The Arlington/Kennendale tornado has a preliminary rating of EF-2. They suspect wind speeds peaked around 135mph, a path length of 4.6 miles, and a maximum width of 400 yards (1/4 mile). The Lancaster/Hutchins tornado has a preliminary rating of EF-2, and they suspect it had a maximum width of 200 yards (1/8 mile). The Forney tornado has a preliminary rating of EF-3, with suspected winds up to 150 mph. Surveys are ongoing--there's a lot of damage to see along the tornado paths. These ratings reflect the most severe damage the teams have seen so far. Eighteen tornado warnings were issued by the National Weather Service in Fort Worth on Tuesday, which saved hundreds of lives. There were no fatalities Tuesday, which is welcome news in the wake of 2011's deadly tornado season.


Figure 2. This photo was taken by a NWS Storm Survey team in Lancaster TX on April 4, 2012. It shows EF-2 tornado damage that occurred in parts of Lancaster on April 3, 2012.


Figure 3. From the Weather Service: This is an aerial photograph of a tornado damaged area in Arlington TX. The damage from the tornado that affected Kennedale and Arlington on April 3, 2012 has been given a preliminary rating of EF-2. The photo was taken on Wednesday, April 4, looking to the east.

Portlight disaster relief charity responds to this year's tornadoes
Disaster relief charity portlight.org sent Thomas Hudson to the DFW area yesterday to do damage assessment and determine whether there is a need for Portlight's services in the wake of the tornadoes. Check out the Portlight blog to see the latest updates, and catch up the great work they've been doing in Harrisburg, Illinois in the wake of the devastating EF-4 tornado that hit the town on Leap Day, 2012.

Jeff Masters

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Quoting KoritheMan:


I'm fine. You?

I'm good...what do you think about CSU's forecast for the hurricane season?
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I decided to restart my cyclone animations and switch from color infrared to black and white infrared. Additionally, I plan on doing every system that attained tropical storm status or higher from 2003 to 2011.

Subtropical Ana 2003
Tropical Storm Bill 2003
Hurricane Claudette 2003
Hurricane Danny 2003
Hurricane Erika 2003
Hurricane Fabian 2003
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32860
Quoting nigel20:

What's up KoritheMan?
How are you Korithe?


I'm fine. You?
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Almost looks like Andrea in 2007:

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Quoting KoritheMan:


I don't see the problem.

What's up KoritheMan?

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Fukushima Daiichi Site: Cesium-137 is 85 times greater than at Chernobyl Accident
Source: Akio Matsumura
Date: updated on 4/5/12

[...] I asked top spent-fuel pools expert Mr. Robert Alvarez, former Senior Policy Adviser to the Secretary and Deputy Assistant Secretary for National Security and the Environment at the U.S. Department of Energy, for an explanation of the potential impact of the 11,421 rods.

I received an astounding response from Mr. Alvarez [updated 4/5/12]:

In recent times, more information about the spent fuel situation at the Fukushima-Dai-Ichi site has become known. It is my understanding that of the 1,532 spent fuel assemblies in reactor No. 304 assemblies are fresh and unirradiated. This then leaves 1,231 irradiated spent fuel rods in pool No. 4, which contain roughly 37 million curies (~1.4E+18 Becquerel) of long-lived radioactivity. The No. 4 pool is about 100 feet above ground, is structurally damaged and is exposed to the open elements. If an earthquake or other event were to cause this pool to drain this could result in a catastrophic radiological fire involving nearly 10 times the amount of Cs-137 released by the Chernobyl accident.

The infrastructure to safely remove this material was destroyed as it was at the other three reactors. Spent reactor fuel cannot be simply lifted into the air by a crane as if it were routine cargo. In order to prevent severe radiation exposures, fires and possible explosions, it must be transferred at all times in water and heavily shielded structures into dry casks.. As this has never been done before, the removal of the spent fuel from the pools at the damaged Fukushima-Dai-Ichi reactors will require a major and time-consuming re-construction effort and will be charting in unknown waters. Despite the enormous destruction cased at the Da–Ichi site, dry casks holding a smaller amount of spent fuel appear to be unscathed.

Based on U.S. Energy Department data, assuming a total of 11,138 spent fuel assemblies are being stored at the Dai-Ichi site, nearly all, which is in pools. They contain roughly 336 million curies (~1.2 E+19 Bq) of long-lived radioactivity. About 134 million curies is Cesium-137 — roughly 85 times the amount of Cs-137 released at the Chernobyl accident as estimated by the U.S. National Council on Radiation Protection (NCRP). The total spent reactor fuel inventory at the Fukushima-Daichi site contains nearly half of the total amount of Cs-137 estimated by the NCRP to have been released by all atmospheric nuclear weapons testing, Chernobyl, and world-wide reprocessing plants (~270 million curies or ~9.9 E+18 Becquerel).

It is important for the public to understand that reactors that have been operating for decades, such as those at the Fukushima-Dai-Ichi site have generated some of the largest concentrations of radioactivity on the planet.

Many of our readers might find it difficult to appreciate the actual meaning of the figure, yet we can grasp what 85 times more Cesium-137 than the Chernobyl would mean. It would destroy the world environment and our civilization. This is not rocket science, nor does it connect to the pugilistic debate over nuclear power plants. This is an issue of human survival. [...]

Japan’s former Ambassador to Switzerland, Mr. Mitsuhei Murata, was invited to speak at the Public Hearing of the Budgetary Committee of the House of Councilors on March 22, 2012, on the Fukushima nuclear power plants accident. Before the Committee, Ambassador Murata strongly stated that if the crippled building of reactor unit 4—with 1,535 fuel rods in the spent fuel pool 100 feet (30 meters) above the ground—collapses, not only will it cause a shutdown of all six reactors but will also affect the common spent fuel pool containing 6,375 fuel rods, located some 50 meters from reactor 4. In both cases the radioactive rods are not protected by a containment vessel; dangerously, they are open to the air. This would certainly cause a global catastrophe like we have never before experienced. He stressed that the responsibility of Japan to the rest of the world is immeasurable. Such a catastrophe would affect us all for centuries. Ambassador Murata informed us that the total numbers of the spent fuel rods at the Fukushima Daiichi site excluding the rods in the pressure vessel is 11,421 (396+615+566+1,535+994+940+6375).

I asked top spent-fuel pools expert Mr. Robert Alvarez, former Senior Policy Adviser to the Secretary and Deputy Assistant Secretary for National Security and the Environment at the U.S. Department of Energy, for an explanation of the potential impact of the 11,421 rods.Japan’s former Ambassador to Switzerland, Mr. Mitsuhei Murata, was invited to speak at the Public Hearing of the Budgetary Committee of the House of Councilors on March 22, 2012, on the Fukushima nuclear power plants accident. Before the Committee, Ambassador Murata strongly stated that if the crippled building of reactor unit 4—with 1,535 fuel rods in the spent fuel pool 100 feet (30 meters) above the ground—collapses, not only will it cause a shutdown of all six reactors but will also affect the common spent fuel pool containing 6,375 fuel rods, located some 50 meters from reactor 4. In both cases the radioactive rods are not protected by a containment vessel; dangerously, they are open to the air. This would certainly cause a global catastrophe like we have never before experienced. He stressed that the responsibility of Japan to the rest of the world is immeasurable. Such a catastrophe would affect us all for centuries. Ambassador Murata informed us that the total numbers of the spent fuel rods at the Fukushima Daiichi site excluding the rods in the pressure vessel is 11,421 (396+615+566+1,535+994+940+6375).

I asked top spent-fuel pools expert Mr. Robert Alvarez, former Senior Policy Adviser to the Secretary and Deputy Assistant Secretary for National Security and the Environment at the U.S. Department of Energy, for an explanation of the potential impact of the 11,421 rods.

http://akiomatsumura.com/2012/04/682.html

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Quoting KoritheMan:


Doesn't the QBO just affect the eastern Atlantic?

Yep.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32860
Quoting BenBIogger:
The easterly QBO could play a big part this season.


Doesn't the QBO just affect the eastern Atlantic?
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Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting WxGeekVA:
On a for-real note, the government is now directly relating problems in the economy with good weather. Because bad weather obviously helps the economy...

SARCASM FLAG: ON


Could good weather portend bad news for the economic recovery?




I don't see the problem.
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Quoting ncstorm:


If I was you, I would remove them. I had posted some weather cartoons against climate change and admin was not happy about them at all. Even if it contains weather, they dont see the "cartoons" as approriate for the blog.


Was it saying like

"no climate change"

Or

"no more climate change"
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

No, the admins won't do anything about it because the images are weather-related and completely allowed on the blog. ;-)


If I was you, I would remove them. I had posted some weather cartoons against climate change and admin was not happy about them at all. Even if it contains weather, they dont see the "cartoons" as approriate for the blog.
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Or not...

maybe...

Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520
Quoting swampdooogggg:

That's right, TA13.

Take a hike, Taz.


Take a hike to my ignore list... Second one today
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
On a for-real note, the government is now directly relating problems in the economy with good weather. Because bad weather obviously helps the economy...

SARCASM FLAG: ON


Could good weather portend bad news for the economic recovery?


Member Since: September 3, 2011 Posts: 13 Comments: 3477
April 6, 2012 SST anomaly
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Quoting WxGeekVA:


Oh God...

I caught these people making some absurd mis-representations of archeological facts about a few sites. It's a shame History Channel not only let them get away with it, but didn't require a retraction, and even re-aired the episodes.


It's one thing to have a weird interpretation of the facts.

It's another to totally mis-represent facts.
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520
URGENT - WEATHER MESSAGE
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE BALTIMORE MD/WASHINGTON DC
942 PM EDT FRI APR 6 2012

MDZ003>007-009-010-501-502-VAZ025>031-036>040-042 -050>053-055-056-
501>504-WVZ050>053-055-501>506-070945-
/O.CON.KLWX.FZ.W.0005.120407T0600Z-120407T1300Z/
WASHINGTON-FREDERICK MD-CARROLL-NORTHERN BALTIMORE-HARFORD-
MONTGOMERY-HOWARD-EXTREME WESTERN ALLEGANY-
CENTRAL AND EASTERN ALLEGANY-AUGUSTA-ROCKINGHAM-SHENANDOAH-
FREDERICK VA-PAGE-WARREN-CLARKE-NELSON-ALBEMARLE-GREENE-MADI SON-
RAPPAHANNOCK-LOUDOUN-ORANGE-CULPEPER-
PRINCE WILLIAM/MANASSAS/MANASSAS PARK-FAIRFAX-STAFFORD-
SPOTSYLVANIA-NORTHERN FAUQUIER-SOUTHERN FAUQUIER-WESTERN HIGHLAND-
EASTERN HIGHLAND-HAMPSHIRE-MORGAN-BERKELEY-JEFFERSON-HARDY -
WESTERN GRANT-EASTERN GRANT-WESTERN MINERAL-EASTERN MINERAL-
WESTERN PENDLETON-EASTERN PENDLETON-
INCLUDING THE CITIES OF...HAGERSTOWN...FREDERICK...WESTMINSTER...
GAITHERSBURG...COLUMBIA...FROSTBURG...CUMBERLAND. ..STAUNTON...
WAYNESBORO...HARRISONBURG...WINCHESTER...FRONT ROYAL...
CHARLOTTESVILLE...WASHINGTON...LEESBURG...CULPEPE R...MANASSAS...
MANASSAS PARK...FAIRFAX...FREDERICKSBURG...WARRENTON...HIGH TOWN...
MONTEREY...MARTINSBURG...CHARLES TOWN...MOOREFIELD...BAYARD...
MOUNT STORM...PETERSBURG...ELK GARDEN...KEYSER...FORT ASHBY...
CIRCLEVILLE...FRANKLIN
942 PM EDT FRI APR 6 2012

...FREEZE WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM 2 AM TO 9 AM EDT
SATURDAY...

* TEMPERATURES...RANGING FROM THE UPPER 20S IN SHELTERED VALLEY AREAS
AND HIGHER ELEVATIONS TO LOWER 30S ELSEWHERE.

* IMPACTS...DAMAGE TO UNPROTECTED VEGETATION THAT IS SENSITIVE
IN FREEZING TEMPERATURES.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

A FREEZE WARNING MEANS SUB-FREEZING TEMPERATURES ARE IMMINENT OR
HIGHLY LIKELY. THESE CONDITIONS WILL KILL CROPS AND OTHER
SENSITIVE VEGETATION.

&&

$$

LEE
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 42266
The easterly QBO could play a big part this season.
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596. JRRP
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Member Since: September 3, 2011 Posts: 13 Comments: 3477
NASA satellite catches Texas tornado storms in 3-D

Severe thunderstorms recorded over 8 miles high; some areas got 2 inches of rain an hour - The 3-D profile reveals heavy precipitation.

updated 4/6/2012 6:09:00 PM ET

A satellite that can measure thunderclouds and rain in three dimensions spied a lot of action over northeastern Texas during the period of violent storms that produced 14 confirmed tornadoes Tuesday.

NASA's Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission satellite takes data on cloud height and rainfall rates, two indicators of a storm's severity.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/46980340/ns/technolog y_and_science-science/
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Member Since: August 9, 2009 Posts: 10 Comments: 5086
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Oh you all are bad LOL. I mine's well join in on the fun.
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Quoting NCHurricane2009:


I have to admit...the ones like on post 566 are the funniest to me....

Same here!
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Quoting WxGeekVA:




no no no its it called cloudy with a ch of meetballs?
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Quoting swampdooogggg:

That's right, TA13.

Take a hike, Taz.



are you JFV?
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Member Since: September 3, 2011 Posts: 13 Comments: 3477
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

No, the admins won't do anything about it because the images are weather-related and completely allowed on the blog. ;-)



this playing lol i no that
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Quoting swampdooogggg:

That's right, TA13.

Take a hike, Taz.



you take a hike
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Quoting NCHurricane2009:


I have to admit...the ones like on post 566 are the funniest to me....
The one from 571 didn't make any since to me @.@.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 17832
Quoting Tazmanian:



thats ok i can this report the ones that do likey the admins wont do any thing about it any way


there too lazy
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

No, the admins won't do anything about it because the images are weather-related and completely allowed on the blog. ;-)
Noooo!,
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 17832
Quoting washingtonian115:
OH LORD.Now everyone is going to be posting those things every 5 seconds on the blog...


I have to admit...the ones like on post 566 are the funniest to me....
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Quoting Tazmanian:



thats ok i can this report the ones that do likey the admins wont do any thing about it any way


there too lazy

No, the admins won't do anything about it because the images are weather-related and completely allowed on the blog. ;-)
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32860
OH LORD.Now everyone is going to be posting those things every 5 seconds on the blog...
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 17832
Quoting NCHurricane2009:


What's the signficance? Is that western ECMWF system over the central US for a psbl April 14 severe weather outbreak? Is that eastern ECMWF system a psbl subtropical development in the west Atlantic? (someone I think mentioned that eastern ECMWF system being subtropical by April 16)....

Well, I just posted it because it showed a 994 mbar low off the East Coast and a 987 mbar low entering the Central Plains.

No real significance :P
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32860
Quoting WxGeekVA:
Since it's really quiet right now
Let's have an APPROPRIATE
Weather Related Meme Contest!!


Speaking of Irene I watched a video of a reporter called Andy Fox who was pretending to sky dive in the winds at the beach...Not a very smart move for him.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 17832
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
12Z ECMWF at 240 hours.




What's the signficance? Is that western ECMWF system over the central US for a psbl April 14 severe weather outbreak? Is that eastern ECMWF system a psbl subtropical development in the west Atlantic? (someone I think mentioned that eastern ECMWF system being subtropical by April 16)....
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About

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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