Re-writing the record books for Atlantic hurricanes

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 5:46 PM GMT on January 06, 2006

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The official NHC final report for Hurricane Epsilon is out, and says:

"Epsilon, the record-setting 26th and final named tropical cyclone of the 2005 hurricane season..."

So, we'll have to re-write the record books for the Hurricane Season of 2005. I'm guessing Dr. Franklin felt a tad uneasy when he penned that line on December 16. I know I felt a little uneasy when I wrote my "final" blog on the Hurricane Season of 2005 after Epsilon finally dissipated. Was there a Tropical Storm Zeta lurking in the future?
Surely not!

Well, we have one more record to add our incredible tally of records--the latest ending hurricane season of all time. Zeta has lasted until January 6, beating out the January 5 ending date of the 1954 hurricane season. The Hurricane Season of 2005 is not officially over--but will be tonight. High wind shear and dry air have contributed to the extensive deterioration of Zeta today, and this afternoon's advisory should be the last one for the Hurricane Season of 2005. Zeta is now just a swirl of low clouds, and has no deep convection anywhere near it. With dry air and high wind shear expected to continue for the next two days, the chances of regeneration are slim. So let's close the books on the Hurricane Season of 2005, and hope we never see anything like it in our lifetimes. I do believe that this was a once-in-a-lifetime hurricane season. Even if it turns out that global warming proves to have a dramatic impact on Atlantic hurricanes in the coming decades, I seriously doubt I'll live to see another season with 27 named storms, or a season with three of the six most intense hurricanes of all time.

Coming next week: Late-season Atlantic tropical cyclones: has there been an increase in recent years?

Jeff Masters

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61. TampaSteve
6:45 PM GMT on January 09, 2006
Bye Bye, Zeta...Bye Bye Hurricane Season 2005...FINALLY!!!
60. Inyo
2:24 AM GMT on January 07, 2006
So, if the Gulf Stream ever breaks down again, will it result in warmer temperatures in the Tropics as well as colder temperatures in Europe?
Member Since: September 3, 2002 Posts: 42 Comments: 873
59. gippgig
10:36 PM GMT on January 06, 2006
Goodbye Zeta. What a way to end the season!

(I accidentally posted this on the previous day's entry. Oops!)
Member Since: December 5, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 64
58. RL3AO
9:55 PM GMT on January 06, 2006
while all of you guys are complaining about a cold 42 degrees, it has been a very pleasant 30-35 degrees the past 2 weeks in Minnesota.

It has been very interesting here, between Dec. 24 and Dec. 31, the NWS station in Chanhassen Minn, had zero minutes of sunshine. I live about a hour south of the Twin Cities, and I have not seen the sun in about 2 weeks(and Im not exaggurating).

There has been such a strong inversion about a mile in the air that when the 35 degree temps melt the snow, the moisture gets stuck in the air, so it has been gloomy for about 2 weeks now. WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO SEE THE SUN ONCE EVERY WEEK OR TWO. PLEASE.
57. ForceInfinity
9:53 PM GMT on January 06, 2006
Last post by the hurricane center. The boys there are exhausted by the sound of it and I *hope* they finally are able to take a much deserved vacation after what they had endured these last several months... With this last post, we are officially done with 2005.

It was a privlige to share this experience with other like minded bloggers. Here's to a quiet couple of months until the Superbowl

SeanB

<

Statement as of 4:00 PM EST on January 06, 2006



shower activity has continued to decrease and is now limited to just
a few skinny bands of shallow convection well to the east of the
center. As such... Zeta no longer meets the criteria of a tropical
cyclone... which means that both it and the 2005 Atlantic hurricane
season have ended.

The initial motion estimate is 285/6. Zeta has made a jog back to
the northwest... but the average motion over the past 18 hours has
been west-northwesterly at about 06 kt. The remnant circulation of
Zeta is forecast to move in a west-northwest or northwestward
direction for the next 24-36 hours... and turn northward afterwards
as the remnant low comes under the influence of increasing
southerly low-level flow ahead of a strong cold front currently
moving eastward across the Bahamas. By 72 hours... the skeletal
remains of Zeta are expected to dissipate or be absorbed by the
frontal system.

I suppose it is only fitting that the record-breaking 2005 Atlantic
hurricane season ends with a record breaking storm. Today... Zeta
surpassed 1954 Alice #2 as the longest-lived tropical cyclone to
form in December and cross over into the next year. Zeta was also
the longest-lived January tropical cyclone. In addition...Zeta
resulted in the 2005 season having the largest accumulated cyclone
energy...or Ace... surpassing the 1950 season. So... until the 2006
season begins... unless Zeta somehow makes an unlikely Miracle
comeback... this is the National Hurricane Center signing off for
2005... finally.

Forecaster Stewart

forecast positions and Max winds

initial 06/2100z 23.4n 50.3w 25 kt...dissipating
12hr VT 07/0600z 24.0n 52.4w 25 kt...remnant low
24hr VT 07/1800z 25.4n 54.8w 20 kt...remnant low
36hr VT 08/0600z 27.8n 56.8w 20 kt...remnant low
48hr VT 08/1800z 30.2n 57.0w 20 kt...remnant low
72hr VT 09/1800z...dissipated

>>
56. billsfaninsofla
9:45 PM GMT on January 06, 2006
Matilda... read your assessment of Wilma impact.. Do you work for the Chamber of Commerce??? You sure paint a rosy picture.. I live here also and my assessment wouldn't read like yours!
Member Since: September 5, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 5529
54. matilda101
9:27 PM GMT on January 06, 2006
Does any know which MAJOR records WASN"T broken for the 2005 season.
Member Since: August 28, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 301
53. TPaul
9:15 PM GMT on January 06, 2006
unless Zeta somehow makes an unlikely Miracle
comeback... this is the National Hurricane Center signing off for
2005... finally.


Now we can party like its 1999.

Happy New Year!
Member Since: May 2, 2002 Posts: 5 Comments: 111
52. weatherdude65
8:45 PM GMT on January 06, 2006
21..check your email for me..
51. weatherdude65
8:44 PM GMT on January 06, 2006
later skye
50. weatherdude65
8:44 PM GMT on January 06, 2006
LOL...didn't even see that 21....so how ya'll doin'? :-)
49. Skyepony (Mod)
8:43 PM GMT on January 06, 2006
Hey~ i'm good ~ just been workin on getting my new weatherstation online between life. Dew point here 38.6, but dude your a just a little north. Still got my vegtable garden to save. Wilma made my tomatoes come in & ripen late. Welp nap's over~ lurk at ya'll later:)
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 162 Comments: 37829
48. Pensacola21
8:38 PM GMT on January 06, 2006
really gonna vacumn now... brb
Member Since: September 16, 2005 Posts: 30 Comments: 3912
47. Pensacola21
8:37 PM GMT on January 06, 2006
lol, " takes me bout an hours" Dude - you sound like my family (they are very very country) lol
Member Since: September 16, 2005 Posts: 30 Comments: 3912
46. weatherdude65
8:36 PM GMT on January 06, 2006
BRB
45. Pensacola21
8:36 PM GMT on January 06, 2006
Dude - Gamma sent a message to WunderZuka and he is working on it... I'm gonna vacumn my office, brb..
Member Since: September 16, 2005 Posts: 30 Comments: 3912
44. weatherdude65
8:35 PM GMT on January 06, 2006
I've got all kinds of plants to cover....takes me about an hours to get them covered up right
43. Pensacola21
8:34 PM GMT on January 06, 2006
me too!
Member Since: September 16, 2005 Posts: 30 Comments: 3912
42. Pensacola21
8:34 PM GMT on January 06, 2006
I fogot to bring in one of my Begonias (i think that's how you spell it) and it got FRIED!!
Member Since: September 16, 2005 Posts: 30 Comments: 3912
41. weatherdude65
8:33 PM GMT on January 06, 2006
I hate it that email is not working :-(
40. weatherdude65
8:32 PM GMT on January 06, 2006
mine is 32955 :-)
39. weatherdude65
8:31 PM GMT on January 06, 2006
21...that is cold!!!!! I may have to cover up all of my plants Saturday night...expecting frost Sunday morning
38. Pensacola21
8:31 PM GMT on January 06, 2006
YES I AM!! But it IS Friday!!!!!
Member Since: September 16, 2005 Posts: 30 Comments: 3912
37. seflagamma
8:31 PM GMT on January 06, 2006
Dr Masters,
Thanks for the latest update. All I've got to say is I am so glad if I had to go through this once in a lifetime Hurricane Season 2005, I have done it with all of the WU Staff and Friends; that is the blessing in all of this!

Thanks to you all for everything you did this year to help us be prepared and stay safe.

But don't go away too far in this "off season"...you may be needed again shortly!!!!

Gamma
Member Since: August 29, 2005 Posts: 298 Comments: 40902
36. Pensacola21
8:30 PM GMT on January 06, 2006
That's mine :-)
Member Since: September 16, 2005 Posts: 30 Comments: 3912
35. weatherdude65
8:30 PM GMT on January 06, 2006
21... I knew that you were having another one of those days
34. Pensacola21
8:30 PM GMT on January 06, 2006
Dude - Type in zip: 32533
Member Since: September 16, 2005 Posts: 30 Comments: 3912
33. Pensacola21
8:29 PM GMT on January 06, 2006
BRB AGAIN! work work work, grrr..... lol
Member Since: September 16, 2005 Posts: 30 Comments: 3912
32. weatherdude65
8:29 PM GMT on January 06, 2006
ya got me beat 21!!! :-)
31. weatherdude65
8:28 PM GMT on January 06, 2006
I know skye....dew point is already at 36....it's gonna be a cold night
30. Pensacola21
8:28 PM GMT on January 06, 2006
Hey Skye, how are you?
Member Since: September 16, 2005 Posts: 30 Comments: 3912
29. Pensacola21
8:28 PM GMT on January 06, 2006
We are supposed to get down to 28!
Member Since: September 16, 2005 Posts: 30 Comments: 3912
28. Skyepony (Mod)
8:25 PM GMT on January 06, 2006
dude~ we're gonna be cold come tonight! I got 61.5F right now.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 162 Comments: 37829
27. weatherdude65
8:20 PM GMT on January 06, 2006
OK!!
26. Pensacola21
8:18 PM GMT on January 06, 2006
Weatherdude, I'll BRB..
Member Since: September 16, 2005 Posts: 30 Comments: 3912
25. Pensacola21
8:15 PM GMT on January 06, 2006
Hey Dude!
Member Since: September 16, 2005 Posts: 30 Comments: 3912
24. weatherdude65
8:12 PM GMT on January 06, 2006
back...hey 21!!
23. Skyepony (Mod)
8:05 PM GMT on January 06, 2006
ForecasterColby~ the other day I had happened across the hurrricane hunter's homepage, i've got the data page linked & hadn't seen this. I had been of the mindset of let's fly one out once in a while to study a greek storm, as some others. But according to their home page, they need the break, as many of us. Sounds like many of them lost their homes during Katrina. The planes & whole operation had to be relocated for the rest of the season as well. Hail to our Hunters!

As for our worst season ever~ Makes me think of a shirt i saw at the flea market a few weeks ago~ 2005 I survived the worst hurricane season ever. AGAIN! ~ I certainly hope that was it, but it's hard to ignore indicators, like ~ Dr Grey's 6 indicators look worst than last year & the several atmospheric shifts that have occured recently (ungodly old ice melting, the air consisting of things it never did back til the time of the oldest ice we can find). Even the specific drought in one place to tropical activity in another. Some of these trends that have held for so long, suddenly no longer apply. For example ~Dr. Gray~

Our initial 6-11 month early December seasonal hurricane forecast scheme (Gray et al. 1992) demonstrated hindcast skill for the period of 1950-1990 but did not give skillful results when utilized on a real-time basis for forecasts between 1995-2001. This was due to the discontinuation of the strong relationships we had earlier found between West African rainfall and the stratospheric quasi-biennial oscillation (QBO) with Atlantic basin major hurricane activity 6-11 months in the future. We did not expect these relationships that had worked so well for 41 years to stop working from 1995 onward. We do not yet have a good explanation as to why these relationships have failed. We have discontinued this earlier 1 December forecast scheme and have developed a new 1 December forecast scheme.

But what will happen we'll have to wait & see. Even the whole gulf stream come to halt, thing. Europe's piece already slowing down, mini ice age to follow. I'd hope Dr Master's would return to this subject ~ he had doubted the theory(never got to why). After checking Europe's weather for 2001-2004, i was beginning to as well. 3 of the 4 years were much warmer than normal.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 162 Comments: 37829
22. ForecasterColby
8:05 PM GMT on January 06, 2006
It doesn't really matter - though if you're suggesting this season is anything even approaching normal...

*moves to Siberian mountains and builds a bunker*
21. Pensacola21
7:56 PM GMT on January 06, 2006
rik - Good point. I agree... Who knows what was out there...
Member Since: September 16, 2005 Posts: 30 Comments: 3912
20. rlk
7:33 PM GMT on January 06, 2006
I've commented on this before, but I'm not convinced that we can really compare the old record of 21 named storms (or equivalents, at any rate) with the 2005 record of 27 named storms. I suspect that quite a few of the storms this year would never have been identified as tropical systems in 1933, particularly the ones in the eastern Atlantic that occurred late in the season that were otherwise atypical systems.

The 1933 map shows nothing east of 50 degrees west at all, and very little east of 55 degrees and north of 20 degrees (this season was nothing special in the tropical eastern Atlantic either; it was the subtropical eastern Atlantic that was wild late in the season). In particular, I suspect that Vince, Delta, Epsilon, and Zeta never would have been identified as tropical systems in the absence of satellite imagery, and perhaps Lee also. That would leave 22 or 23 storms, which still would have exceeded the 1933 total, but not by a large amount.

In addition, while this year certainly had more big storms than anything else in the satellite/aircraft recon era, I'm similarly not convinced that we had anything dramatically more than 1933 (or 1950, for that matter). In particular, ships would try to avoid anything particularly nasty for obvious reasons. If ships started seeing huge swells along with the other signs of the outskirts of a tropical system, they'd have probably tried to get while the getting was good.

Certainly this season was a tremendously active one; I'm just not quite convinced that it completely exceeded other historically active seasons. Maybe "once in a lifetime" (referring to 50-100 year recurrence) is an accurate description, though...
Member Since: January 30, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 97
19. Pensacola21
7:25 PM GMT on January 06, 2006
Colby - Wilma?
Member Since: September 16, 2005 Posts: 30 Comments: 3912
18. ForecasterColby
7:22 PM GMT on January 06, 2006
And one last memory to leave you with...one of the scariest things I've ever seen:

17. Pensacola21
7:22 PM GMT on January 06, 2006
I think Palmbeacher is sick... She said she wasn't feeling well the other day... Haven't heard from her since Wed.
Member Since: September 16, 2005 Posts: 30 Comments: 3912
16. ForecasterColby
7:20 PM GMT on January 06, 2006
Goodbye to 2005. Devastating as it was, it was truly an amazing thing to experience, and I'm almost dissapointed it's over. Treasure 2005's final recon:

000
URNT12 KNHC 200848
VORTEX DATA MESSAGE
A. 20/08:28:20Z
B. 16 deg 35 min N
085 deg 03 min W
C. NA mb NA m
D. NA kt
E. deg nm
F. 013 deg 029 kt
G. 271 deg 028 nm
H. EXTRAP 1005 mb
I. 21 C/ 425 m
J. 23 C/ 424 m
K. 23 C/ NA
L. NA
M. NA
N. 12345/ 1
O. 0.02 / 1 nm
P. AF305 0627A GAMMA OB 13
MAX FL WIND 37 KT N QUAD 07:06:50 Z
SLP EXTRAP FROM 1500 FT.

And it's most amazing:

VORTEX DATA MESSAGE
Storm Name: WILMA (24L)
Mission Number: 07
Flight ID: AF308
Observation Number: 16 Google Maps Vortex Position
Time: 08:00:30Z
Latitude: 17.1N
Longitude: 82.3W
Minimum height at 700 mb 2082 m
Est. Surface Winds Observed: NA
Distance and bearing from center to max surface wind: NA
Maximum flight level wind: NW (320) @ 191 mph
Distance and bearing from center to max flight level wind: 3 mi SW (221)
Sea level pressure: 884 mb
Max flight level temperature outside the eye: 50F at 10082 feet
Max flight level temperature inside the eye: 75F at 9984 feet
Dewpoint temperature inside the eye: 50F
Eye character: CLOSED
Eye shape: Circular
Eye diameter: 5 mi
Fix determined by: Penetration Radar Wind Pressure Temperature at 700 mb
Navigation / Met Accuracy: 0.02 / 1 nm
MAX FL WIND 168 KT SE QUAD 06:10:20 Z
15. matilda101
7:19 PM GMT on January 06, 2006
Living here in Fort Lauderdale, it was amazing to how fast the city cleaned up after Katrina and Wilma. Yes some of the city was without electricity for over two weeks. But the clean-up was fast and well planned. They started cleaning the beach the very next day with the area entirely covered with sand. The bulk trash started just as fast as homeowners clean their yards and disposed it in front of residences at the curb. Just 5 weeks after Wilma blew thru last of the bulk trash was picked up. Today now 2 1/2 months after Wilma at cat 3 the city looks very much back to normal except for the occasional blue tarp roof, damaged signage, and the foliage is growing back nicely.
The City of Fort Lauderdale has got it's act togather.
Member Since: August 28, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 301
14. Pensacola21
7:02 PM GMT on January 06, 2006
bye :-)
Member Since: September 16, 2005 Posts: 30 Comments: 3912
13. weatherdude65
7:00 PM GMT on January 06, 2006
I'm going to go get something to eat...be back in a bit
12. weatherdude65
6:57 PM GMT on January 06, 2006
brrrrrrrr....that is cold for this time of the day 21
11. Pensacola21
6:55 PM GMT on January 06, 2006
Our temp is actually 42.5 brrrr...
Member Since: September 16, 2005 Posts: 30 Comments: 3912

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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.