Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.
By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 6:50 PM GMT on January 02, 2006
Tropical Storm Zeta is making a comeback this afternoon, with deep convection blossoming and starting to wrap all the way around the center. Wind shear analysis from the University of Wisconsin shows that Zeta's westward motion is carrying the storm into an area of lower wind shear of about 20 knots, and this reduced wind shear is likely contributing the the storm's improving appearance. The lower shear will be short lived, however, and higher shear values of about 40 knots should impact the storm by Tuesday and significantly weaken or destroy Zeta. There is a small chance it might attain hurricane strength before the higher shear weakens the storm.
Long-term tropical storm outlook for January
OK, I can't believe I have to do this, but here comes the long-term tropical storm outlook for January. There are no other suspect areas to watch in the tropics for the next ten days, and wind shear levels are forecast to be too high to allow tropical storm formation. Historically, only one tropical storm has formed in January, an unnamed 1978 subtropical storm that formed near where Zeta is now. February, March, and April all have each had one tropical storm form since record keeping began in 1851. It would be no surprise if 2006 had a winter tropical storm form, given the ways things have gone of late. However, the chances of this happening are probably less than 20%, and I am forecasting that after Zeta, we're off the hook until early June.
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