Hurricane season is here!

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:18 PM GMT on June 01, 2006

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The hurricane season of 2006 is here! The date June 1 has taken on a notoriety second only to 9/11 in the consciousness of many of us, and the arrival of summer now has an ominous flavor--thanks to the unbelievable Hurricane Season of 2005. As I sat at my desk back on New Year's Day this year writing a blog on Zeta, the 28th named storm of that season, I wondered if the Hurricane Season of 2005 would ever end. Would an endless series of tropical storms develop through the winter, making the traditional June 1 start of hurricane season seem meaningless? Well, I am happy to report that the atmosphere sometimes does behave in a logical and predictable way. We've had a normal five straight months of no tropical storm activity in the Atlantic, leading up to today's official start to the season. And if you're not ready for hurricane season yet, then the Atlantic Hurricane Gods have benevolently granted you an extension to your preparation period--this year's season will have a slow start.


Figure 1.Graph of hurricane frequency for the Atlantic Ocean hurricane season. Image credit: NOAA.

What is typical for June?
June is normally the least active month of hurricane season (Figure 1). There have been 32 named storms in June since reliable records began in the Atlantic in 1944--an average of one every two years. There have been 10 June hurricanes (one every six years), and only two June major hurricanes. One of these major hurricanes was the notorious Hurricane Audrey, a Category 4 monster that killed 550 when it slammed into the Texas/Louisiana border on June 27, 1957. The only other June major hurricane was Hurricane Alma, which struck Cuba on June 8, 1966. Alma moved just offshore Florida's west coast as a Category 3 hurricane before weakening to a Category 2 hurricane and striking the Big Bend region of Florida's Panhandle. Alma killed 90.

Last year, June was four times more active than normal. Two June storms formed--Tropical Storm Arlene, which formed on June 8 and hit Alabama on June 11 as a 70 mph tropical storm, and Tropical Storm Bret, which formed June 28 and hit Mexico the next day as a minimal 40 mph tropical storm. The record for most named storms in June occurred in 1936 and 1968, when three storms formed.

What areas are at risk in June?
As we can see from examining the plots for 1936 and 1968, the Gulf of Mexico and the western Caribbean are the primary regions of formation for June tropical storms. The Gulf Coast, Cuba, and Mexico's Yucatan are the primary targets for these systems. June systems typically form from the remains of a cold front or trough of low pressure that moves out over the Gulf of Mexico or western Caribbean. These systems typically are slow to form, and require two to four days of "festering" before they acquire enough thunderstorm activity and spin to make it to depression stage. The tropical waves coming off of Africa this time of year are too far south to make it into the Caribbean sea, so we shouldn't expect any tropical storms to form in the central or eastern Caribbean.

What about SSTs?
Sea surface temperatures (SSTs) last year at this time were about 2 - 3.5 degrees C above normal, and were the highest ever measured in late May. This year, SSTs are about 1 - 1.5 degrees cooler, but are still above the 80 F threshold needed to get a tropical storm going. All we need is an initial disturbance to start with, and plenty of low wind shear to allow the convection to grow around it. SSTs will not be a limiting factor this June for hurricane development.


Figure 2. The GFS model forecast for June 11, 2006, shows a strong subtropical jet stream continuing to blow over the Gulf of Mexico. The strong winds of this jet will likely create too much shear for any tropical storms to form in the Gulf.

What about wind shear?
High wind shear is going to be a severe impediment to tropical storm formation for at least the first two weeks of June. The jet stream has split into two branches--the polar jet, located over the northern U.S., and the subtropical jet, which is blowing over the Gulf of Mexico. As long as the subtropical jet is blowing over the Gulf of Mexico with 30 - 50 knots of wind like it is now, no tropical storm formation is likely in the Gulf. If we do get Tropical Storm Alberto in the next two weeks, it will have to form in the western Caribbean south of Cuba. Steering currents would then likely take the storm north across Cuba and then northeastward across the Bahamas and out to sea. The Gulf Coast from Texas to the Florida Panhandle will be protected from any tropical storms by the strong subtropical jet steam. I'm predicting only a 10% chance of a tropical storm in the Atlantic by June 15 this year.

The GFS model predicts that the subtropical jet will continue to generate high levels of wind shear over the prime June breeding grounds for hurricanes for at least the next 12 days. After that, I suspect the subtropical jet will weaken, and we will get one tropical storm forming in late June over the western Caribbean or Gulf of Mexico.

Vacation
Given that the next two weeks are likely to be the quietest time in what promises otherwise to be another long and busy hurricane season, I'm outta here. This will be my final "live" blog until June 13, as I'm taking my main summer vacation early. I plan to spend some time at Cape Hatteras before any hurricanes threaten! I've prepared a series of "canned" blogs, mainly Q and A from a newspaper interview I did last Sunday for a Florida newspaper. If Alberto does surprise us while I'm gone, the other meteorologists at wunderground will post the latest analysis here for you.

So long!
Jeff Masters

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656. weatherboykris
3:37 AM GMT on March 05, 2007
That must have been Alberto!
Member Since: December 9, 2006 Posts: 125 Comments: 11346
655. IKE
2:46 AM GMT on June 04, 2006
According to the GFS last 4 or 5 model runs, they have backed off on a low forming/crossing Cuba and heading NE. Seems in the last 2 runs they have a piece of energy staying in the caribbean, heading west across the Yucatan and then going north toward the gulf states. Nothing to really jump on with it being so many days away.

The unreliable NAM is hinting at a piece of energy staying in the caribbean out at 84 hours.

Might be something to keep an eye on. The latest GFS is bold with something coming up in the gulf. Probably nothing, but worth watching.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37860
653. Cavin Rawlins
2:28 AM GMT on June 04, 2006
I give the low a 25% beacause I notice after looking at some wind sheer maps for the past week the wind sheer is becoming concentrated in the gulf but decreasing in the caribbean......It is like there is a cut in the sub-tropical jet stream link
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
652. bamaweatherwatcher
10:40 PM GMT on June 03, 2006
On this low in the sw caribbean. I looked at the models a little bit ago and all including the gfs have it developing after it passes over cuba. The phase for the gfs shows it developing as a cold core, and staying that way. Looks like we will be waiting awhile for our first.
651. turtlehurricane
9:43 PM GMT on June 03, 2006
i updated my blog a few minutes back
Member Since: July 22, 2005 Posts: 227 Comments: 469
650. NAtlanticCyclone
9:41 PM GMT on June 03, 2006
Hey guys. I just posted an update on the cape and Islands weather. It's just starting to rain and I also posted on the tropical disturbances in the Caribbean. Feel free to add any comments or constructive criticsm to my blog. Thank you!
649. louastu
9:38 PM GMT on June 03, 2006
I really love the pictures on this site.

648. Levi32
9:30 PM GMT on June 03, 2006
Thank you for your update Tony. Have a great weekend yourself.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26700
647. Alec
9:28 PM GMT on June 03, 2006
Have a great weekend as well Tony:)
646. hurricanechaser
9:27 PM GMT on June 03, 2006
Hey everyone,

I hope you all are having a great weekend thus far.:)

In regards to the low that everyone is focusing on, Alec said it very well to summarize my personal thoughts on it as well.

At this moment, I would personally place such odds of tropical storm development from this system (becoming Alberto) at no more than 20%

One additional note, I am still working on posting my June and July outlook (Part Two) where I will make my own forecast for each month at the conclusion of that blog entry.

I will simply say that I expect a relatively slow start to this season consistent with what we normally see when we get a strong Cape Verde season which I am expecting myself.:)

That being said, I still anticipate a 60% probability of one June tropical storm nonetheless.

I hope everyone has a truly blessed day and great weekend.:)

Most sincerely,
Tony


645. Alec
9:25 PM GMT on June 03, 2006
pretty* HA! I caught myself!LOL
644. Levi32
9:24 PM GMT on June 03, 2006
Alec what was the rose for in my blog lol!
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26700
643. Alec
9:22 PM GMT on June 03, 2006
LOL Michael, just wait till they open up their mailboxes!LOL

I think since Wilma was traveling quite fast in the Shear above her(going pretting much in the same direction of the shear) after it emerged into the Gulf, it didn't have the huge effects on it...
642. ProgressivePulse
9:20 PM GMT on June 03, 2006
Sorry lol!
Member Since: August 19, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 5458
640. ProgressivePulse
9:17 PM GMT on June 03, 2006
We'll have to wait and see. You'll have to remember Micheal, that close to half of Wilma's eye was off the coast of Mexico for most of that time and the near coast is rather flat. Also, it is one thing for a developed Hurricane to travel over land and surive but a different story of a developing low pressure to travel over land, weakens rather quickly.
Member Since: August 19, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 5458
639. Alec
9:10 PM GMT on June 03, 2006
Posted By: Levi32 at 5:03 PM EDT on June 03, 2006.
For pete's sake are there no encouraging comments to cheer this disturbance on?

I bet there are MANY who wish hurricane season was nonexistant. By the way, I don't think anything will develop for a while(in the Caribbean, Gulf, or Atlantic......Shear is way too high for decent development. Even if there was some type of development it would be slow to occur and the shear north of the disturbance in the Caribbean would tear it to shreds...
637. weatherwhatweather
9:07 PM GMT on June 03, 2006
Progressive...that's one notion I would argue. It one thing has been proven in the last several years about current tropical systems, it is that they can cross land masses, even with rough terrain, emerge on the other side and restrengthen.
636. Levi32
9:07 PM GMT on June 03, 2006
Yes overall convection is increasing in that area and also directly over the low center.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26700
635. HurricaneKing
9:05 PM GMT on June 03, 2006
It's already trying to develop. It's getting more convection around the center. It aint nothing yet but it looks better.
Member Since: July 6, 2005 Posts: 71 Comments: 2485
634. Levi32
9:05 PM GMT on June 03, 2006
How come I said "cheering the disturbance on"? I am not sure why I said that lol. They don't need cheering on. I guess no one wants the season to start anyway.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26700
633. ProgressivePulse
9:03 PM GMT on June 03, 2006
I am not saying it won't develop, just saying that it is a little early is all.
Member Since: August 19, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 5458
632. Levi32
9:03 PM GMT on June 03, 2006
For pete's sake are there no encouraging comments to cheer this disturbance on? It has more of a chance then you all might think. The shear is clearing out to the north and will continue to do so. Also Cuba does not have a reputation of absolutely ripping apart and destroying tropical systems. That reputation is reserved for Haiti and the Yucatan Peninsula. Also this thing is forecasted to develop by the GFS before crossing Cuba. I don't know where you got after Cuba. The thing even sits there for a day and a half just south of Cuba.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26700
631. ProgressivePulse
8:59 PM GMT on June 03, 2006
If it did develop before crossing Cuba, Cuba itself would rip it apart. Very Mountainous area in the midsection of Cuba.
Member Since: August 19, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 5458
629. ProgressivePulse
8:56 PM GMT on June 03, 2006
This low is not supposed to develop until it crosses Cuba, if ever. It will be around the Bahamas on Tuesday, not much supposed to happen till tomorrow, or Monday.
Member Since: August 19, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 5458
628. plywoodstatenative
8:38 PM GMT on June 03, 2006
One other thought, if the trough does not go far enough south so as to shear up the disturbance. What chance, small as it might be does our pacific system have of gathering up the remnants of the wave?
Member Since: November 15, 2005 Posts: 16 Comments: 4189
627. plywoodstatenative
8:35 PM GMT on June 03, 2006
Interesting thought, that disturbance in the Pacific. Say that it moves over mexico and into the Gulf. What are the chances of regeneration into a tropical system again?

On the topic of the item in the caribbean, I do not think it is showing much chance of development as earlier thought. It appears to be getting pulled northward by the weather to the east of the bahamas.
Member Since: November 15, 2005 Posts: 16 Comments: 4189
626. weatherwhatweather
8:26 PM GMT on June 03, 2006
That is very interesting to know about shear values in the Indian ocean. If the present shear conditions persist for the US, it may not be as ad a season as predicted. In any case, if the forecast for shear for the next week is true, nothing will affect the US coasts for a week or two.
625. EvanKisseloff
8:04 PM GMT on June 03, 2006
STL, does the shear in the North Indian Ocean come from the Monsoon?
Member Since: August 5, 2005 Posts: 115 Comments: 197
623. WSI
7:49 PM GMT on June 03, 2006
That is what people have to remember. Warm water is only part of the equation. A lot of other things have to come together for a storm to form. Warm water does not equal storm formation. Doesn't matter what temperature the water is.
622. HurricaneKing
7:48 PM GMT on June 03, 2006
brb
Member Since: July 6, 2005 Posts: 71 Comments: 2485
621. weatherguy03
7:48 PM GMT on June 03, 2006
See all of that shear over North Florida and the Western Gulf....Link That will be moving eastward. This thing needs to get its act together today, for it to develop. Its not gonna happen. It will be swept away!! Bye, bye!
Member Since: July 5, 2005 Posts: 592 Comments: 29708
620. HurricaneKing
7:48 PM GMT on June 03, 2006
I said like storms but thanks I didn't know that.
Member Since: July 6, 2005 Posts: 71 Comments: 2485
619. Cavin Rawlins
7:48 PM GMT on June 03, 2006
maybe in 10 years wind sheer might not be a factor to consider in tropical development....
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
617. Cavin Rawlins
7:45 PM GMT on June 03, 2006
my bad......what i meant to say was that the temperature of the sea surface nowadays is so warm that it will feed bigger, larger more emense storms that wind sheer would have little effect on them.....
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
616. HurricaneKing
7:44 PM GMT on June 03, 2006
Some of the zeta like storms did start out in 30knots of shear.
Member Since: July 6, 2005 Posts: 71 Comments: 2485
615. HurricaneKing
7:42 PM GMT on June 03, 2006
I give it a 5% chance of developing.
Member Since: July 6, 2005 Posts: 71 Comments: 2485
614. Cavin Rawlins
7:41 PM GMT on June 03, 2006
thought*
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
612. weatherguy03
7:41 PM GMT on June 03, 2006
Yes, thats why last season was so active. It was from all of those systems forming with 30knot shear over them!!..LOL
Member Since: July 5, 2005 Posts: 592 Comments: 29708
611. Cavin Rawlins
7:39 PM GMT on June 03, 2006
wind sheer is on the downside and the gulf of mexico and caribbean sea is like a ticking time bomb, just waiting until we think that nothing is going to form.......

Thats what happen when TD 10 of last year died out......everyone thaught is was over and boom!!!! TD 12 formed.........
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
610. WSI
7:38 PM GMT on June 03, 2006
"windsheer is nothing compared to sea surface temps"


Umm, nothing can form if it is being blown apart.
609. Cavin Rawlins
7:35 PM GMT on June 03, 2006
Atlantic Tropical Weather Outlook

000
ABNT20 KNHC 031520
TWOAT
TROPICAL WEATHER OUTLOOK
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
1130 AM EDT SAT JUN 03 2006

FOR THE NORTH ATLANTIC...CARIBBEAN SEA AND THE GULF OF MEXICO...

CLOUDINESS AND SHOWERS OVER THE WESTERN CARIBBEAN SEA ARE ASSOCIATED
WITH A WEAK AREA OF LOW PRESSURE NEAR SAN ANDRES ISLAND.
UPPER-LEVEL WINDS ARE NOT FAVORABLE FOR SIGNIFICANT DEVELOPMENT.

TROPICAL CYCLONE FORMATION IS NOT EXPECTED THROUGH SUNDAY.

FORECASTER AVILA

$$


Haven't they learn anyhting......windsheer is nothing compared to sea surface temps........I wouldnt be suprise if tropical depression one forms in area of 30knots of sheer.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
608. weatherwhatweather
7:28 PM GMT on June 03, 2006
Looks like some Amsterdamer infiltrated the Weather Underground..for a few minutes at least.
607. louastu
7:26 PM GMT on June 03, 2006
I clicked on the link to be sure it truly was obscene before flagging it, and it went to a porn directory.
606. swlaaggie
7:25 PM GMT on June 03, 2006
LMAO,

Just got on here and noticed that Turtlehurricane decided to post an entire archive. It's so great to see someone else does stuff like that. :-)

Fiancee and I are riding around discussing retirment areas. Obviously, one that came up was Florida. After Katrina/Rita though, we are trying to get the bullseye off our butts(I know, living in Florida probably won't fulfill that goal) .

Oh well, we have a couple of questions that I know someone on here can answer pretty quickly.

(1) Of all the hurricanes that have hit Florida, are they predominantly from the Atlantic side or the Gulf side?

(2) Are the hurricanes from Gulf side or the Atlantic side more intense?

Thanks for any reply.
Member Since: April 26, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1032

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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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