Another tough hurricane season in 2006

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:25 PM GMT on December 06, 2005

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Get ready for another tough hurricane season in 2006. If the forecast team at Colorado State University (CSU) founded by Dr. Bill Gray (now headed by Dr. Phil Klotzbach) is correct, we are in for another much more active than usual hurricane season, with 17 named storms and 9 hurricanes. The average Atlantic season has only 11 named storms and 6 hurricanes. In their forecast for the upcoming hurricane season released today, the CSU team also projects that the U.S. will be at high risk from strikes by intense hurricanes again, with an 81% chance of a strike by a Category 3, 4, or 5 hurricane. However, the forecast notes that the from a purely statistical point of view, the number of landfalling hurricanes and major hurricanes in the U.S. should decrease in 2006 from what we have seen during 2005 and 2004. They note:

It is rare to have two consecutive years with such a strong simultaneous combination of high amounts of major hurricane activity together with especially favorable steering flow currents. The historical records and the laws of statistics indicate that the probability of seeing another two consecutive hurricane season like 2004-2005 is very low. Even though we expect to see the current active period of Atlantic major hurricane activity to continue for another 15-20 years, it is statistically unlikely that the coming 2006 and 2007 hurricane seasons, or the seasons which follow, will have the number of major hurricane US landfall events as we have seen in 2004-2005.


The CSU team uses observations of monthly average atmospheric winds and pressures over six specific regions of the globe taken this Fall to determine whether favorable or unfavorable conditions will exist for the 2006 hurricane season. All six of these "predictors" are favorable for an active 2006 hurricane season. A condensed summary:

1) El Niņo, which acts to suppress Atlantic hurricane activity, is not expected to be active during the 2006 hurricane season. It is more likely that neutral or even La Niņa conditions will develop, which are favorable for Atlantic hurricane activity.

2) The stratospheric quasi-biennial oscillation (QBO), an oscillation in the stratosphere that creates alternating westerly and easterly winds there, is expected to be in it west phase during the hurricane season of 2006. The west phase of the QBO has been shown to provide favorable conditions for development of tropical cyclones in the deep tropics.

3) The observed pressure and wind patterns over the North Atlantic will allow stronger than normal southerly winds to keep sea surface temperatures over the entire North Atlantic well above normal during 2006. Sea surface temperatures during 2005 were the highest measured since at least 1950, and helped fuel 2005's record-breaking intense hurricanes. Sea surface temperatures during the 2006 hurricane season may be just as warm.

4) Perhaps most importantly, observed wind and pressure patterns this Fall indicate that upper-level winds in the upper atmosphere (200 mb) will blow from the east during the hurricane season of 2006, like they did during 2005. This results in low wind shear over hurricane formation regions of the tropical Atlantic. Low wind shear is the key ingredient needed for tropical storm formation and intensification.

How good are these long-range hurricane forecasts issued in December? Last year, the December forecast called for an average 2005 hurricane season with 11 named storms, six of them becoming hurricanes. Obviously, the forecast was a bust--we had 26 named storms and 14 hurricanes. The updated forecast issued on May 31 of 2005 performed much better--15 named storms were forecast, with eight hurricanes. However, over the past five years (not including the forecast for the 2005 season), the skill of the December hurricane forecasts by the CSU team has been quite good--in four out of five years, the predicted number of named storms was within three of the actual number. Tune in April 4, when the CSU team issues their updated forecast for the 2006 hurricane season. Maybe Hurricane Epsilon will be gone by then!

I'll talk more about Epsilon tomorrow.

Jeff Masters

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393. dangerbird89
4:15 AM GMT on December 10, 2005
Im wondering if it's possible that hurricane katrina was cloud-seeded. If you look at this http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/GOES/2005/Katrina/gmex/wv-loop.html you can tell that the cloud tops get dry real fast for no reason. Right before the hurricane hits. Another thing thats weird is that theres no satellite imagery for a 3 hour period. Could there be a connection between cloud-seeding and the eyewall bowing out 60 miles?
392. TampaSteve
4:24 PM GMT on December 07, 2005
...and going...and going...
391. haydn
3:56 PM GMT on December 07, 2005
New Blog Up
390. Trouper415
3:50 PM GMT on December 07, 2005
Epsilon
Member Since: September 22, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 637
389. palmbeacher
3:47 PM GMT on December 07, 2005
AAAHHHH there you are!
So good to see you today.
388. Pensacola21
3:45 PM GMT on December 07, 2005
Hey
Member Since: September 16, 2005 Posts: 30 Comments: 3912
387. Pensacola21
3:43 PM GMT on December 07, 2005
PEEK-A-BOO!!
Member Since: September 16, 2005 Posts: 30 Comments: 3912
386. palmbeacher
3:40 PM GMT on December 07, 2005
(((((Pensacola21 where R U )))))
385. palmbeacher
3:30 PM GMT on December 07, 2005
Hi Weatherboy! It is cloudy and
very windy here.
384. haydn
3:19 PM GMT on December 07, 2005
I agree. Epsilon is confusing forcasters.

I've been taling about the number of hurricane days and records being broken. I thought 50 was a record. I have looked this up and see that I was wrong. It's around 60. This link gives a table that discloses info I missed.

Link
383. jorick
3:10 PM GMT on December 07, 2005
I think we've determined one thing about Epsilon. Whatever the forecasters predict is NOT what will happen. As soon as the forecasters predict that Eppie will start a strengthening trend to cat 2, Eppie will dissipate into a light tropical breeze and flow across my trailer in Ft. Lauderdale as I sit under a palm tree sucking on an orange crush, listening to the parrots squawking in the trees, and watching the lazy cumulus clouds float by as I feel the warm sunshine on my face...

Um, you were saying...?
Member Since: September 15, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 3
382. weatherboyfsu
3:09 PM GMT on December 07, 2005
Man, Im I good or just lucky.......I guess I had a 50-50 chance..... :) ...........Hello to Veracity and Hello to Palmbeacher and to Pensacola21, and to Hurricanechaser.........Its a beautiful day here in Orlando, a little cloudy but could be alot worse........
Member Since: July 17, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 1025
381. tripleb
3:06 PM GMT on December 07, 2005
Hey steelmagnolia44,

Very well said !
380. billsfaninsofla
2:56 PM GMT on December 07, 2005
SteelMagnolia... I don't find your post arrogant in the least, what you said is very true.
Member Since: September 5, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 5528
379. weatherboyfsu
2:44 PM GMT on December 07, 2005
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Home Public Adv Fcst/Adv Discussion Strike Probs Wind Probs Maps/Charts Archive
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


000
WTNT34 KNHC 071436
TCPAT4
BULLETIN
HURRICANE EPSILON ADVISORY NUMBER 33
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
11 AM AST WED DEC 07 2005

...PERSISTENT EPSILON REMAINS A HURRICANE BUT EXPECTED TO WEAKEN BY
TOMORROW...

AT 11 AM AST...1500Z...THE CENTER OF HURRICANE EPSILON WAS LOCATED
NEAR LATITUDE 29.1 NORTH... LONGITUDE 37.9 WEST OR ABOUT 875
MILES...1410 KM... SOUTHWEST OF THE AZORES.

EPSILON IS MOVING TOWARD THE SOUTHWEST NEAR 15 MPH... 24 KM/HR. A
CONTINUED SOUTHWESTWARD MOTION AT A GRADUALLY DECREASING FORWARD
SPEED IS EXPECTED DURING THE NEXT 24 HOURS.

MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS ARE NEAR 75 MPH...120 KM/HR...WITH HIGHER
GUSTS. SOME WEAKENING IS FORECAST DURING THE NEXT 24 HOURS... AND
EPSILON IS EXPECTED TO BECOME A TROPICAL STORM BY THURSDAY.

HURRICANE FORCE WINDS EXTEND OUTWARD UP TO 30 MILES... 45 KM...
FROM THE CENTER...AND TROPICAL STORM FORCE WINDS EXTEND OUTWARD UP
TO 150 MILES...240 KM.

ESTIMATED MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE IS 987 MB...29.15 INCHES.

REPEATING THE 11 AM AST POSITION...29.1 N... 37.9 W. MOVEMENT
TOWARD...SOUTHWEST NEAR 15 MPH. MAXIMUM SUSTAINED
WINDS... 75 MPH. MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE... 987 MB.

THE NEXT ADVISORY WILL BE ISSUED BY THE NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER AT
5 PM AST.

FORECASTER KNABB


$$


Member Since: July 17, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 1025
378. weatherboyfsu
2:31 PM GMT on December 07, 2005
Hello everyone.........hope everyone is having a good day.....waiting to see what happens with our buddy Epsilon.........I just looked at the satelite......looks like some weakening has started, but we have seen this too many times in the last week....I think that it will stay a hurricane at the 10AM update......we will see....
Member Since: July 17, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 1025
377. haydn
2:21 PM GMT on December 07, 2005
Goodmorning,

I think the weakening phase has started too. The convection is split.

I looked at entries I missed while sleeping and found questions about Hurricane days and named storm days. On this sites archive there are 19 advisories listed as cat 1. That would be 4.75 days. Add this to 45.25 (Dr Gray's tally) and we have 50, a new record. Also, at 10 I think NSD will be around 119. Epsilon would need to stay around until 10 PM Thur to break 120.25 days unless the advisories as a tropical depression are counted. Gamma had 11 advisories before it was named.
376. hurricanechaser
1:49 PM GMT on December 07, 2005
ok...lol..one last post before I go..there is a very distinct weakening phase underway as the convection has weakened around the eye and is no longer intact but rather broken up quite a bit as shear has eroded the NW quadrant as well. Now, the big question, is this the trend that will persist for more than 3 hours and cause Epsilon to be downgraded. If it doesn't reverse itself within the next 2 hours..it most likely won't be a hurricane at the 10 AM EST advisory. That's how significant a weakening trend it has develop during the past hour.

However, this hasn't been unusual for Epsilon as previously mentioned so many times.:)
375. hurricanechaser
1:37 PM GMT on December 07, 2005
Hey Steel Magnolia,

That was a very true and excellent commentary which I noticed as I was signing off and deserved a response.:)

I agree with you that there is not one area anywhere from Texas to Maine that hasn't been hit by a hurricane during the 155 years or so since record keeping actually began.

As an old saying goes if I remember it corectly, "Those who don't learn from the past are destined to repeat it."

This certainly applies to hurricane history as well.

I hope you continue to recover and our thoughts and prayers are with you and all the others who are slowly recovering.:)
374. steelmagnolia44
1:24 PM GMT on December 07, 2005
Re: forecasts for 2006.......

I am just an average person who comes to this site to learn from those who know more. I know meteorolgy is a science, however I have to wonder about the importance of a little common sense every time I hear phrases like "Katrina was a 500 year storm". I also wonder about using statistical odds to minimize the possibility of another catastrophe befalling the same area in 2006.

Camille struck the Pass Christian area in 1969. That was just 36 years ago not 500 years ago. It was a stronger storm, making landfall as a Cat.5. The winds maintained Cat.5 strength well inland as the storm tracked northward through Mississippi.

The devastation from Camille was not considered as great because the population and development along the immediate Coast had not progressed to what it was before Katrina.

Also, how many near misses for the New Orleans/north central Gulf Coast area have there been? Many! If Ivan had not turned slightly at the last minute, the same catastrophic impact would have happened last year. The mayor of New Orleans held a press conference telling everyone his worst fears had come true as he issued the evacuation order. New Orleans was in the bullseye. A little jog at the last minute saved the area during the threat from Ivan.

Before Ivan in 2004, Senator Mary Landreu taped a telvision spot with school children dropping a 15' banner off a balcony in the French Quarter to show people how high the water might rise in a flooding sitruation in New Orleans.

People living in a hurricane zone should not be playing games with statistics and pointing to statistical chances as the basis for not preparing. When a storm enters the Gulf, someone gets it! Everyone must think in terms of being in the middle of the strike zone. If we think in terms of statistics, no one would prepare because odds are it will go somewhere else!

Discussing statistical odds might be all right for scientists in their offices. Personally, I think everyone in a hurricane zone should build and plan for the worst case scenario because the worst has happened too many times not to.

Just my arrogant 2 cents as I continue my own recovery from Katrina.....!!

Warm regards to you all..........

steelmagnolia



Member Since: August 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 43
373. hurricanechaser
1:24 PM GMT on December 07, 2005
I should mention one last important factor in attempting to forecast Epsilon which has a huge impact on the computer models as well as those esponsible for these difficult forecasts.

As we all know, it's a very rare entity to have any tropical cyclone roaming the Atlantic Basin in December yet alone a strong Tropical Storm and Hurricane. Tha being the case, there isn't much climatilogical data that can be processed into the models nor much previous experience for the forecasters themselves to draw upon.

They are relying on forecasting paramaters typical of an unusual October storm in the mid latitudes of the Atlantic Basin let alone a storm two months later at such a distance so far North as well as East.

Naturally, there is a much larger room for error and very little statistical probabilty and experience to rely on. Not to even take into account..they the overall weather pattern is by far more active and chaotic over the U.S. and the entire Atlantic Basin which ib itself explains why we have had so few December storms to begin with.

Then we have to consider all of the aforementioned combined with unusually above normal sea surface temperature for this time of year and we have a recipe for an unprecented and unpredictable evnt such as Epsilon has turned out to be.

ok, I need to go get some sleep hopefully for at least 6 hours.:)

I hope each of you know check in have a wonderful day.:)

I'm sure Epsilon will continue to be an interesting and historic storm to track...enjoy.:)

I will have to stay with my previous prediction that it will be downgraded to a tropical storm no later than the 4 PM EST advisory. However, it's a very low confidence forecast...where have I heard that before?...hmmmm.:)
372. hurricanechaser
1:06 PM GMT on December 07, 2005
If we had a contest for most TYPOS in these blogs..I would be hard to beat...sorry.:)
371. hurricanechaser
1:02 PM GMT on December 07, 2005
Here we go again..right on que...the latest Infrared satellite loop shows Epsilon beginning yet another weakening fluctuation after a sustain four hours of sustain intensification with the eyewall fully intact and improved outflow with the overall circulation.

In the last couple of images in this loop..you can se the dry air once again reasserting itself into Epsilons inner core from the NW into the system while the eyewall tries to maintain the convection completely around the eye. It looks as though we are beginning yet another alternating minor fluctuation that has been Epsilons major characteristic for the past 48 hours or so. Each time this occurs..I wonder if this will be the one that finally persists and weakens Epsilon down to tropical storm intensity. On each occasion, this slight fluctuation would everse itself after no more than 2 hours and this has allowed Epsilon to retasin the exact same intensity throughout this long period of time..truly amazing and nothing I've seen before in the 21 years I've been tracking storms or the 9 years I've been forecasting them in college and the weather office.

It's a shame that there wasn't a Recon sent in to gather data that would better explain this incredible event and improve forecasting for the next Epsilon. They don't usually investigate storms east of 55 degrees longitude, no significanrt threat to land, and they have expected it to weaken for the entire 48 hours since it reintensified unexpectantly. Those are the reasons I presume one didn't go out to do so. Although, it's not too late since this fluctuating yet overall steady state trend continues and could for some time to come.
370. hurricanechaser
12:38 PM GMT on December 07, 2005
If it can continue to maintain this trend without the eyewall once again being impeded by shear and dry air..it may actually intensify to 80 mph at the next advisory. The question is will the eyewall remain intact for that long?

It's obvious that the warmer sea surface temperatures are helping increase the convection...it will be interesting to see if this can sustain itself after the Diurnal cycle.
369. hurricanechaser
12:35 PM GMT on December 07, 2005
You are right Colby...its circulation is looking better with much better outflow as well as the convection being sustained around the eye for the past four hours or so without the usual weakening from dry air and shear that has caused it to flucuate every couple of hours during the past two days...its been on a slight intensification trend..the very first sustained one of this length in that period.
368. hurricanechaser
12:33 PM GMT on December 07, 2005
Hey everyone..I'm still up..just checking back in for a few:)
367. jorick
12:30 PM GMT on December 07, 2005
Epsilon and shear...Epsilon and shear...this line of thinking is shear lunacy!


...sorry, couldn't resist...
Member Since: September 15, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 3
366. MarcD
12:27 PM GMT on December 07, 2005
there is very little confidence in the intensity
forecast.


and absolutely incredible statement from the forecaster!! What an amazing year...
365. jorick
12:26 PM GMT on December 07, 2005
Looks like Eppie's running the shearless chute to the deep tropics. The 192 hour forecast shows a strong cat 3 Eppie slamming south Florida with winds gusting as high as 155 MPH!

Just kidding. I have no idea where it's going to be in 16 days.

Or am I...

Seriously (maybe), after looking at the wind shear map, it looks like Eppie has a clear shot to the southwest and warmer waters. Where did that path come from? Weather modification again?

The 2005 hurricane season has thrown all normalcy out the window. I think forecasters are gonna be taking a really serious look at their models (and how they need to change) after this.
Member Since: September 15, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 3
364. dcw
11:13 AM GMT on December 07, 2005
Look at upper-level winds! It's established an outflow under that much shear?? O_O
Member Since: August 2, 2001 Posts: 2 Comments: 3
363. dcw
11:10 AM GMT on December 07, 2005
Still a 5AM 'cane...this storm is mad.
Member Since: August 2, 2001 Posts: 2 Comments: 3
362. hurricanechaser
9:19 AM GMT on December 07, 2005
Wow..I need to go look at the latest Infrared..I haven't looked at it since earlier tonight.. brb.
361. hurricanechaser
9:18 AM GMT on December 07, 2005
I know..here I am up all night tracking this storm because I'm afaraid I'm going to miss the start of a real trend..I could've slept well for the past two days and seen the same satellite imagery except a smaller circulation and eye and further south of course.:)
360. ProgressivePulse
9:16 AM GMT on December 07, 2005
Posted By: ProgressivePulse at 7:18 AM GMT on December 07, 2005.
Mine is another 24hrs. If it keeps tracking the way it is, I give it 36.
Member Since: August 19, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 5395
359. ProgressivePulse
9:15 AM GMT on December 07, 2005
You and a vast amount of others Chaser lol. The 3 to 6 Hour thing is correct for sure with this storm, just tends to agonoize things.
Member Since: August 19, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 5395
358. hurricanechaser
9:14 AM GMT on December 07, 2005
Therefore, I gotta admit I am kinda hoping it will be a 70 mph tropical storm by the 4 PM EST Advisory so I won't have to be wrong again..lol

What is your gut feeling? How long do you think it can hang on to hurricane intensity?
357. hurricanechaser
9:12 AM GMT on December 07, 2005
I forecasted it will not be a hurricane past the 10 am EST advisory..that means I only have one more free advisory before I'm wrong a second time in two days..lol:)
356. hurricanechaser
9:10 AM GMT on December 07, 2005
Honestly..that 3 to 6 hour trend has served me well until Epsilon shows up and fluctuates in 2 hour increments and maintains the same intensity for more than 36 hours..its amazing how it continues to alternate back and forth with no definate tend either way for more than 3 hours and with all the fuctuations...stay the same for almost two days now.
355. hurricanechaser
9:08 AM GMT on December 07, 2005
LOL...I am going to be stuck with that 3 to 6 hour label..lol:)
354. ProgressivePulse
9:07 AM GMT on December 07, 2005
But, tonight Eppy seems to be mixing out the dry air much faster.
Member Since: August 19, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 5395
353. hurricanechaser
9:07 AM GMT on December 07, 2005
Lol..sorry I ws trying to catch up on what I missed..thought I was the only one here:)
352. ProgressivePulse
9:05 AM GMT on December 07, 2005
Looks the same as He/She did the past several nights. Convection is just moved to the coresponding side.
Member Since: August 19, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 5395
351. ProgressivePulse
9:03 AM GMT on December 07, 2005
Eye is looking ragged but wait, another 3 to 6hrs will tell.
Member Since: August 19, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 5395
350. ProgressivePulse
8:58 AM GMT on December 07, 2005
Latest wind swath is acutally larger than it has been all along.
Member Since: August 19, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 5395
349. ProgressivePulse
8:57 AM GMT on December 07, 2005
Figured I would carry the torch this night Chaser, lol.
Member Since: August 19, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 5395
348. hurricanechaser
8:53 AM GMT on December 07, 2005
Hey Proggressive..still up:)..hey everyone else..Cory, etc.:)
347. ProgressivePulse
8:42 AM GMT on December 07, 2005
THE END IS IN SIGHT...YES...BUT NOT QUITE YET. I THOUGHT I WAS GOING
TO FIND A WEAKENING SYSTEM AND INSTEAD I FOUND THAT EPSILON IS
STILL A HURRICANE. AS IT HAS DONE EVERY MORNING...THE CONVECTION
HAS REDEVELOPED AROUND THE LARGE AND DISTINCT EYE....KICKING THE
DVORAK T-NUMBERS BACK UP AGAIN. ALL AGENCIES SUPPORT HURRICANE
INTENSITY. THE HURRICANE IS CURRENTLY LOCATED WITHIN THE REGION OF
LIGHT WINDS ASSOCIATED WITH THE AXIS OF AN UPPER TROUGH. HOWEVER...
THE WEAKENING PROCESS HAS TO BEGIN VERY SOON SINCE STRONG
HIGH-LEVEL WINDS FROM THE SAME TROUGH ARE ALREADY HEADING TOWARD
THE CORE OF THE HURRICANE. WITH THIS UPPER-LEVEL WIND PATTERN...I
HAVE NO OPTION BUT TO FORECAST WEAKENING AT A FAST PACE.
NEVERTHERELESS...THERE IS VERY LITTLE CONFIDENCE IN THE INTENSITY
FORECAST.

I do love the latest Godfather episode.
Member Since: August 19, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 5395
346. timl2k5
8:40 AM GMT on December 07, 2005
man it is still a hurricane (4 am) and the forecaster sounds none to pleased. Sounds like he just woke up, expecting a T.S. and finding yet still.... a hurricane.
345. timl2k5
8:37 AM GMT on December 07, 2005
Thanks for the link; looks like if it heads SW it will be in pretty good shape. SSW doesnt look too good though.
344. TheSnowman
8:26 AM GMT on December 07, 2005
Can't it Squeeeeeeeeeeeeeze Through The Path Theoretically
343. ProgressivePulse
8:17 AM GMT on December 07, 2005
http://cimss.ssec.wisc.edu/tropic/real-time/atlantic/winds/wg8sht.html Latest Shear Values ahead of Eppy.
Member Since: August 19, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 5395

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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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