The bizarrely active hurricane season of 2012 draws to a close

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 4:50 PM GMT on November 30, 2012

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The long and highly destructive hurricane season of 2012 has finally drawn to a close. The hurricane season of 2012 will long be remembered for spawning Hurricane Sandy--a freakish storm that was the largest, most powerful, and second most destructive Atlantic hurricane on record. But this year's hurricane season had a number of unique attributes, making it one of the most bizarre seasons I've witnessed. Despite featuring a remarkable nineteen named storms--tied for the third highest total since record keeping began in 1851--this year's hurricane season had just one major hurricane. That storm was Hurricane Michael, which stayed at Category 3 strength for a scant six hours. This is the least number of major hurricanes in a season since the El Niño year of 1997, which had only Category 3 Hurricane Erika. There were no Category 4 or 5 hurricanes in 2012, for just the 3rd time since the active hurricane period we are in began in 1995. The only two other years since 1995 without a Category 4 or stronger hurricane were the El Niño years of 2006 and 1997. Both of those seasons had around half the number of named storms of 2012--nine in 2006, and eight in 1997. The relative lack of strong storms in 2012 helped keep the Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) down to 128, about 30% above average.


Figure 1. Hurricane Sandy at 10:10 am EDT October 28, 2012. Image credit: NASA/GSFC.

A near-average year for number of tropical cyclones hitting the U.S.
Since the active hurricane period we've been in began in 1995, the U.S. has averaged getting hit by 4 named storms per year, with an average of 1.7 of these being hurricanes, and 0.6 being major Category 3 and stronger hurricanes. This year, we were hit by 3 named storms (Beryl, Debby, and Isaac). One of these was a hurricane (Isaac). Sandy didn't count as a hurricane strike on the U.S., since it transitioned to an extratropical cyclone a few hours before landfall. No major hurricanes hit the U.S., making 2012 the 7th consecutive year without a major hurricane strike. The only other time we've had a streak that long occurred between 1861 - 1868, during the decade of the Civil War.


Figure 2. Vertical instability over the tropical Atlantic in 2004 - 2012 (blue line) compared to average (black line.) The instability is plotted in °C, as a difference in temperature from near the surface to the upper atmosphere (note that the same scale is not used in all the plots, making the black climatological line appear different, when it is really the same for each plot.) Thunderstorms grow much more readily when vertical instability is high. Instability was near average during the August - October peak of hurricane season in 2004 - 2009, but was much lower than average during the hurricane seasons of 2010 - 2012. There was an unusual amount of dry, sinking air in the tropical Atlantic during 2010 - 2012, and the resulting low atmospheric instability reduced the proportion of tropical storms that have intensified into hurricanes. Vertical instability from 2004 - 2011 is taken from NOAA/RAMMB and for 2012 from NOAA/SSD.

Unusually stable air over the Tropical Atlantic in 2012
For the third consecutive hurricane season, 2012 featured an unusual amount of dry, sinking air over the tropical Atlantic and Caribbean Sea. Due to warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures and an active African Monsoon that generated plenty of African waves, a remarkably high number of tropical storms managed to form, but the unusually stable air in the hurricane genesis regions made it difficult for the storms to become strong. When we did see storms undergo significant intensification, it tended to occur outside of the tropics, north of 25°N, where there was not as much dry, sinking air (Sandy's intensification as it approached landfall in Cuba was an exception to this rule.) If we look at the last nine hurricane seasons (Figure 2), we can see that the hurricane seasons of 2010, 2011, and 2012 all featured similar levels of highly stable air over the tropical Atlantic. This is in marked contrast to what occurred the previous six years. The past three seasons all featured a near-record number of named storms (nineteen each year), but an unusually low ratio of strong hurricanes. Steering patterns the past three years also acted to keep most of the storms out to sea. Is this strange pattern something we'll see more of, due to climate change? Or is it mostly due to natural cycles in hurricane activity? I don't have any answers at this point, but the past three hurricane seasons have definitely been highly unusual in a historical context. I expect the steering currents to shift and bring more landfalling hurricanes to the U.S. at some point this decade, though.


Figure 3. Sea water floods the Ground Zero construction site at the World Trade Center, Monday, Oct. 29, 2012, in New York City. Image credit: AP.

Most notable events of the Hurricane Season of 2012
Hurricane Sandy was truly astounding in its size and power. At its peak size, twenty hours before landfall, Sandy had tropical storm-force winds that covered an area nearly one-fifth the area of the contiguous United States. Since detailed records of hurricane size began in 1988, only one tropical storm (Olga of 2001) has had a larger area of tropical storm-force winds, and no hurricanes has. Sandy's area of ocean with twelve-foot seas peaked at 1.4 million square miles--nearly one-half the area of the contiguous United States, or 1% of Earth's total ocean area. Most incredibly, ten hours before landfall (9:30 am EDT October 30), the total energy of Sandy's winds of tropical storm-force and higher peaked at 329 terajoules--the highest value for any Atlantic hurricane since at least 1969. This is 2.7 times higher than Katrina's peak energy, and is equivalent to five Hiroshima-sized atomic bombs. At landfall, Sandy's tropical storm-force winds spanned 943 miles of the the U.S. coast. No hurricane on record has been wider; the previous record holder was Hurricane Igor of 2010, which was 863 miles in diameter. Sandy's huge size prompted high wind warnings to be posted from Chicago to Eastern Maine, and from Michigan's Upper Peninsula to Florida's Lake Okeechobee--an area home to 120 million people. Sandy's winds simultaneously caused damage to buildings on the shores of Lake Michigan at Indiana Dunes National Lake Shore, and toppled power lines in Nova Scotia, Canada--locations 1200 miles apart!


Figure 4. Hurricane Isaac lit up by moonlight as it spins towards the city of New Orleans, LA, on August 26, 2012. The Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (NPP) satellite captured these images with its Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS). The "day-night band" of VIIRS detects light in a range of wavelengths from green to near-infrared and uses light intensification to enable the detection of dim signals. Image Credit: NASA/NOAA, Earth Observatory.

Hurricane Isaac hit Louisiana as a Category 1 hurricane with 80 mph winds on August 28, but the storm's massive wind field brought a storm surge characteristic of a Category 2 hurricane to the coast. A storm surge of 11.1 feet was measured at Shell Beach, LA and higher surges were reported in portions of Louisiana. Fortunately, the new $14.5 billion upgrade to the New Orleans levee system kept the city dry. Isaac killed 9 people in the U.S., and 29 in the Caribbean.

Hurricane Ernesto hit Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula as a Category 1 hurricane with 85 mph winds on August 7. The storm killed 12 and did at least $250 million in damage.

Tropical Storm Debby formed on June 23, the earliest formation date on record for the season's 4th storm. The previous record was Dennis, on July 5, 2005. Debby killed seven and did over $300 million in damage, but helped relieve drought conditions over Northern Florida and Southern Georgia.

Tropical Storm Beryl, which made landfall on May 28 near Jacksonville Beach, FL with 70 mph winds, was the strongest tropical storm to make landfall in the U.S. prior to June 1. Beryl killed two but did minimal damage.

Nadine lasted for 21.75 days as a named storm, the 5th longest-lasting tropical storm in the Atlantic basin.

It was the 3rd year in a row with 19 named storms.

No named storms existed during the month of July and November, but we still managed big numbers.

Only 7 seasons have had more hurricanes than 2012.

The season had two named storm before the official June 1 start of hurricane season, only the 3rd time that has occurred.

Eight named storms formed in August, which tied 2004 for the most to form in that month.

Typhoon Bopha a threat to the Philippines
In the Western Pacific, where typhoon season commonly brings several storms in December, we have impressive Typhoon Bopha. Bopha is expected to head west-northwest and intensify over the weekend, potentially arriving in the Philippines on Tuesday as a powerful Category 3 typhoon. Bopha formed at an unusually low latitude for a tropical cyclone--near 4°N. Storms forming that close to the Equator don't get much help from the Earth's spin to get spinning, and it is rare to see a tropical cyclone forming southwards of 5°N.

The Colorado State University hurricane forecast team, led by Phil Klotzbach and Bill Gray, has a more in-depth summary of the 2012 hurricane season.

Jeff Masters

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Quoting bappit:
All the deniers on the blog must be in the pocket of the Chinese government. LOL


哦,天哪,你抓到我了。
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James Reynolds @typhoonfury 9m
Heavy squall lashing Koror right now, back end feeder back from #typhoon #bopha


James Reynolds @typhoonfury 10m
Hearing reports of heavy storm surge damage in Melekeok village in NE of largest island in Palau, try head there this pm #typhoon #bopha

Member Since: July 12, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6032
Quoting bappit:

So much for the idea that we can't do anything about our CO2 emissions. We've decreased them without really trying. Problem is China.


The U.S. probably reduced our numbers by hypocritically outsourcing labor and other manufacturing processes to China.

China is actually outpacing the U.S. in alternative energy production as well. In fact, many of the wind turbines deployed in the U.S. are manufactured in China.

China's main problem is their population is so large. They are doubling their wind and solar deployments every year or so, and their CO2 emissions are still rising because their rate of modernization is higher than the rate of growth of alternative energies deployment. So it will take several decades before they can come into balance from the top to bottom of their civilization.

Seeing how world population increases by more than 1% per year, and other people are modernizing, and they have just as much right to burn dead plants as the west does, this is unlikely to change in the short term.


If the U.S. cut our pollution in half, and all the rest of Africa and Middle East and Far East increased their living standards to match the average of the U.S., Europe, and Japan, the word would actually be far worse off. Yet those people in "developing" and "undeveloped" nations have just as much right to high technology as we do.

Just wait till the people in central Africa get out of the stone age, and a larger chunk of people in China and Pakistan and other backwards civilizations get electricity and automobiles! Global production rates for CO2 and other pollution will probably double!
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

A tropical cyclone is a tropical cyclone, regardless of how long or short it lasts. If they did not take into account that the 2012 season would not see short-lived and/or frontal storms, then maybe they should start from here on out.


As far as I know, considering such storms is not a part of their methodology, mainly because you really can't predict them.
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Quoting KoritheMan:
I doubt CSU considers short-lived storms like Oscar in their seasonal forecasts, which could help explain why their 2012 forecast was so off.

A tropical cyclone is a tropical cyclone, regardless of how long or short it lasts. If they did not take into account that the 2012 season would not see short-lived and/or frontal storms, then maybe they should start from here on out.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32024
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Quoting wxchaser97:

But it is too pointless to go on with arguing, literally too pointless.


well then...cut it right here
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14873
Quoting KoritheMan:
I doubt CSU considers short-lived storms like Oscar in their seasonal forecasts, which could help explain why their 2012 forecast was so off.


They should just throw in a few to compensate. We all know there will be a few TCs that will be named in our satellite era that otherwise wouldn't have.

They need to catch on, lol.
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Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:


still...he said what you said afterwards..I love arguing, go on

But it is too pointless to go on with arguing, literally too pointless.
Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7942
1011. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Philippines Atmospheric Geophysical Astronomical Services and Administration
Tropical Cyclone Bulletin #4
TYPHOON PABLO (BOPHA)
11:00 AM PhST December 3 2012
==============================

Typhoon "PABLO" has maintained its strength and is now heading towards Surigao Provinces

At 10:00 AM PhST, Typhoon Pablo [948 hPa] located at 6.9°N 131.4°E or 550 km southeast of Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur has 10 minute sustained winds of 95 knots gusting up to 115 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving west northwest at 12 knots.

State of the sea is rough to phenomenal

Signal Warnings
==============

Signal Warning #3
-----------

Mindanao Region
----------------
1. Surigao del Sur
2. Surigao del Norte
3. Siargao
4. Dinagat
5. Agusan del Norte
6. Agusan del Sur
7. Davao Oriental

Signal Warning #2
-----------

Visayas Region
-------------
1. Southern Leyte
2. Bohol

Mindanao Region
----------------
1. Camiguin
2. Misamis Oriental
3. Bukidnon
4. Davao del Norte
5. Compostela Valley

Signal Warning #1
----------

Luzon Region
-------------
1. Cuyo Island

Visayas Region
=============
1. Eastern Samar
2. Western Samar
3. Leyte
4. Biliran
5. Aklan
6. Capiz
7. Antique
8. Iloilo
9. Guimaras
10. Negros Occidental
11. Negros Oriental
12. Cebu
13. Siquijor

Mindanao Region
================
1. Zamboanga Provinces
2. Lanao Provinces
3. Davao del Sur
4. North Cotabato
5. Maguindanao

Additional Information
========================
Estimated rainfall amount is from 15-30 mm per hour (heavy to intense) within the 600 km diameter of the typhoon.

Residents living in low lying and mountainous areas under public storm warning signals are alerted against possible flash floods and landslides. Likewise, those living in coastal areas under public storm warning signal #3 and signal #2 are alerted against big waves or storm surges generated by this Typhoon.

Fishing boats and other small seacrafts are advised not to venture out into the eastern Seaboards of Visayas and Mindanao.

The public and the disaster coordinating councils concerned are advised to take appropriate actions and watch for the next bulletin to be issued at 5 PM today.
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Quoting wxchaser97:

I wasn't... nor did I copy what he said. Yes, he did say it first, but we had a similar idea within the same minute.


still...he said what you said afterwards..I love arguing, go on
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14873
Is early like TA Says,we need to wait until may and see the pattern, and even with that, is unsure the predicction,the best example happend this year, the majority of the dynamical model developing el Nino and this dosen´t happened.....But based in the good agreement of the dinamycals and statical models for the 2013, the season will be active again with the models saying a Neutral to la Nina status....So maybe a similar numbers of the 2012 season in TS and Hurricanes is posible with the majors Hurricane exist a big query, specialy with the the trend of the Vertical instability this recents years
Member Since: June 20, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 2159
Land interaction would cause Bopha to weaken to a tropical storm. There is dry air over South China Sea, which would inhibit significant re-strengthening of Bopha after hitting the Philippines.

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I doubt CSU considers short-lived storms like Oscar in their seasonal forecasts, which could help explain why their 2012 forecast was so off.
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Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:


no..he said it first... don't try to steal his credit

I wasn't... nor did I copy what he said. Yes, he did say it first, but we had a similar idea within the same minute.
Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7942
Bopha won't be at 105 knots long. It is becoming much better defined.



Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32024
off topic again...

Although I have a mac 21.5" 2011 and I have no need of going to windows live to check for my e-mails because I have the mail-app install (some of you who has a mac would understand)
so I went to see my hotmail account and to my surprise I have 21,933 new e-mails!!!!
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Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:


I said 120 MILES PER HOUR...where did you get that 120kt from?


The Dvorak technique numbers someone posted a few posts above.
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520
Quoting Civicane49:


One of the reasons is cool sea surface temperatures in South China Sea.



Disregard what I said. Water temperatures are warmer than 26C. My bad.

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Quoting wxchaser97:

We both said it near the same time.


no..he said it first... don't try to steal his credit
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Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:


Civicane just told me

We both said it near the same time.
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Quoting RTSplayer:


120kts is about 138mph, so it's still a low-end category 4.

The eye that has currently formed is probably going to peak out in about 12 to 18 hours, IMO, because that's about when it will cross over the 30C boundary into 29C water, which will start to take some of it's fuel away.


I said 120 MILES PER HOUR...where did you get that 120kt from?
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14873
Quoting wxchaser97:

First, here is a graphic that also shows the forecast strength and track.


Probably because of land interaction would hurt it and not as favorable conditions is my guess.


Civicane just told me
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14873
Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:
Bopha is now down at 120 mph..I thought it was going up since the eye cleared out


120kts is about 138mph, so it's still a low-end category 4.

The eye that has currently formed is probably going to peak out in about 12 to 18 hours, IMO, because that's about when it will cross over the 30C boundary into 29C water, which will start to take some of it's fuel away.
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520
Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:


I hate that


There are probably plenty of operators... corporate, various governments, other interests, that do this. It isn't the end of the world, but it really does drive home the fact that people should question everything they read.
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Quoting Civicane49:


There are cool sea surface temperatures in South China Sea.

\

ohh I see
Quoting Thrawst:
Since we are all making projections for the 2013 season already... I'll do my part.
Going to go out on a limb here:
17-9-4



good..you also predict for an above-average
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14873
Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:


why Bopha doesn't intensify after leaving the Philippines to a typhoon again?

First, here is a graphic that also shows the forecast strength and track.

Click to enlarge.

Probably because of land interaction would hurt it and not as favorable conditions is my guess.
Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7942
All the deniers on the blog must be in the pocket of the Chinese government. LOL
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Since we are all making projections for the 2013 season already... I'll do my part.
Going to go out on a limb here:
17-9-4

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Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:


why Bopha doesn't intensify after leaving the Philippines to a typhoon again?


One of the reasons is cool sea surface temperatures in South China Sea.

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Quoting Civicane49:


why Bopha doesn't intensify after leaving the Philippines to a typhoon again?
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14873
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

Weather Underground is within the top 100 most popular websites on the internet. And if I remember correctly, it's number three for most popular weather website.


great!
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

Weather Underground is within the top 100 most popular websites on the internet. And if I remember correctly, it's number three for most popular weather website.

It is the 74th or 76th or 78th most popular website on the internet I think.
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Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14873
Quoting CaicosRetiredSailor:
Carbon pollution up to 2 million pounds a second

Originally published: December 2, 2012 4:15 PM
Updated: December 2, 2012 9:09 PM
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS


WASHINGTON - The amount of heat-trapping pollution the world spewed rose again last year by 3 percent. So scientists say it's now unlikely that global warming can be limited to a couple of degrees, which is an international goal.

The overwhelming majority of the increase was from China, the world's biggest carbon dioxide polluter. Of the planet's top 10 polluters, the United States and Germany were the only countries that reduced their carbon dioxide emissions. ...

So much for the idea that we can't do anything about our CO2 emissions. We've decreased them without really trying. Problem is China.
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Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:


daaaamm!!!! that many people here on WU blogs???

crazy... I never thought of so many

Weather Underground is within the top 100 most popular websites on the internet. And if I remember correctly, it's number three for most popular weather website.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32024
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Quoting sunlinepr:

Japanese tunnel leading to Mt. Fuji collapses, 7 missing

Posted on December 2, 2012
http://abcnews.go.com/images/International/ap_jap an_tunnel_collapse_lt_121202_wblog.jpg
December 2, 2012 – JAPAN - Japanese highway police found “several” burned bodies inside a vehicle after a tunnel collapsed about 80 kilometers (50 miles) west of Tokyo. At least two cars remained trapped Sunday after the tunnel collapse, according to the East Yamanashi Fire Department. Fire officials said the section of concrete that fell was about 50 to 60 meters long and about 20 centimeters (8 inches) thick. The cause of the collapse was not immediately clear, nor was the total number of people affected. The Sasago tunnel is on the Chuo Expressway. The cave-in occurred on the Tokyo-bound lanes, Otsuki police said. The road was temporarily closed, and authorities were working to rescue victims, police said. Japanese public broadcaster NHK aired images from the tunnel, showing smoke rising and a blue car with its side smashed in. Emergency vehicles were on scene. A journalist from NHK was driving through the tunnel at the time of the collapse. He told the broadcaster his car was damaged, but he was able to make it out unhurt. –CNN



Who do they blame in Japan when a structure that is doomed to eventually fail in fact fails?

Do they prosecute contractors over any minor, insignificant mistake, or do they just consider it an act of God or nature, or what? Does the auto insurance industry cover collapsed tunnels? Or do you need like special insurance on your car, such as "earthquake insurance"?!
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520
Bopha is now down at 120 mph..I thought it was going up since the eye cleared out
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14873
Quoting SLU:


True. It would be strange to have yet another year of low vertical instability next year. But right now the SSTs are crazy in the MDR and if the NAO remains negative as it's been most of this year, we get neutral or weak la nina and the instability increases, it could be yet another wild ride come 2013.


With weather, it seems like the occurrence of unlikely events decreases their further unlikeliness.

Separately, intuition suggests that future years may make these last few seem placid, and unmemorable.
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Bopha's eye clearing out:

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Quoting SLU:


At face value, the qualitative forecasts on the 7th should call for an above average season next year


another one... the fourth one
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Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:


I'll go 14-19 maned storms...


All I'll say for next year is greater than or equal to 15 storms.
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977. SLU
Quoting SLU:


True. It would be strange to have yet another year of low vertical instability next year. But right now the SSTs are crazy in the MDR and if the NAO remains negative as it's been most of this year, we get neutral or weak la nina and the instability increases, it could be yet another wild ride come 2013.


At face value, the qualitative forecasts on the 7th should call for an above average season next year
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Quoting MontanaZephyr:

CIA-Sponsored Trolls Monitor Internet & Interact With Users to Discredit Factual Information


Link


I hate that
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14873
Quoting wxchaser97:

Dr. Masters blog or WU itself? If WU itself then there are a lot, link, click on member handle.


daaaamm!!!! that many people here on WU blogs???

crazy... I never thought of so many
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14873

CIA-Sponsored Trolls Monitor Internet & Interact With Users to Discredit Factual Information


Link
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this are my numbers for this year...

20-11-3
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Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:


how many people are subscribed to this blog

Dr. Masters blog or WU itself? If WU itself then there are a lot, link.
Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7942
971. SLU
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

It's entirely too early to predict the number of powerful hurricanes for next season. We probably won't know until the season begins as we'll have to see what the level of vertical instability is. If it continues to run below average like it has the past two years, don't expect anything extraordinary.


True. It would be strange to have yet another year of low vertical instability next year. But right now the SSTs are crazy in the MDR and if the NAO remains negative as it's been most of this year, we get neutral or weak la nina and the instability increases, it could be yet another wild ride come 2013.
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Carbon pollution up to 2 million pounds a second

Originally published: December 2, 2012 4:15 PM
Updated: December 2, 2012 9:09 PM
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS


WASHINGTON - The amount of heat-trapping pollution the world spewed rose again last year by 3 percent. So scientists say it's now unlikely that global warming can be limited to a couple of degrees, which is an international goal.

The overwhelming majority of the increase was from China, the world's biggest carbon dioxide polluter. Of the planet's top 10 polluters, the United States and Germany were the only countries that reduced their carbon dioxide emissions.

Last year, all the world's nations combined pumped nearly 38.2 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the air from the burning of fossil fuels such as coal and oil, according to new international calculations on global emissions published Sunday in the journal Nature Climate Change. That's about a billion tons more than the previous year.
Member Since: July 12, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6032

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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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