Air pollution season begins; new hurricane buoys go on-line

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:35 PM GMT on April 30, 2007

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Air pollution season begins May 1 and lasts through the end of September. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has designated this week as Air Pollution Awareness Week, so I'll be pointing people to the EPA web site designed for the occasion. We worry most about air pollution in the summer for two reasons:

1) The pollutant of most concern in the U.S. Is ground-level ozone. Ozone is a colorless odorless gas. It's the same kind of gas that's found in the ozone layer. But in the ozone layer, high in the Earth's stratosphere, ozone protects us from the sun. At ground level, where we live, ozone pollution is unhealthy to breathe. Ground-level ozone forms when nitrogen oxides and gaseous carbon compounds from cars, trucks, power plants, industries, and some consumer products cook in the sun. Intense sunlight and hot temperatures make the most ozone. Thus, hot summer days in late afternoon have the highest ozone pollution--unless strong winds disperse the foul air.

2) Summertime has the the greatest incidence of multi-day periods with clear weather and light winds. These "air stagnation episodes" allow pollutants to build up, since there is little wind to disperse the stuff. Air stagnation episodes are much less common during other times of year, when low pressure systems and their attached cold fronts and warm fronts bring strong winds that keep pollution levels lower.

I'll have a new blog Tuesday or Wednesday, and take a look at last year's pollution season. Is air quality improving in the U.S.?


Figure 1. Map of hurricane buoys maintained by the National Data Buoy Center. Image credit: NOAA.

New hurricane buoys on-line
Two new ocean buoys are now on-line to help monitor hurricanes, thanks to over $2 million in special hurricane funding approved by Congress in the wake of the Hurricane Katrina disaster in 2005. Buoy 42059, a few hundred miles south of Puerto Rico, and buoy 41043, a few hundred miles north of Puerto Rico, are strategically placed to offer data in area where hurricanes frequently traverse. Six more buoys are scheduled to come on-line in the next year, and these will be a big help in tracking hurricanes.

Jeff Masters

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351. weatherboykris
9:25 PM GMT on May 01, 2007
hello
Member Since: December 9, 2006 Posts: 125 Comments: 11346
350. HIEXPRESS
8:27 PM GMT on May 01, 2007
Last! ? LOL
Member Since: October 13, 2005 Posts: 4 Comments: 2156
349. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
7:45 PM GMT on May 01, 2007
LOL, has there been a year with no tropical development..
Member Since: May 24, 2006 Posts: 50 Comments: 44735
347. thelmores
7:43 PM GMT on May 01, 2007
Last year's cape verde's was a flop...... this year I think we will have some doosy's!

unfortunately, some of these "could" be "major" storms..... possible bad news for the islands, the gulf, and even (gulp) the east coast! :(
Member Since: September 8, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 3805
346. SLU
7:25 PM GMT on May 01, 2007
The 1st tropical wave of the year?

THE LARGEST CONCENTRATION OF CONVECTION NEAR THE ITCZ IS THE NUMEROUS
MODERATE FROM 2S-5N BETWEEN 25W-35W. THIS AREA HAS BEEN SHOWING
SOME TROPICAL WAVE-LIKE CHARACTERISTICS OVER THE LAST DAY OR
SO...AND MAY BE ADDED AS EITHER A TROUGH OR A WAVE TO THE 1800
UTC MAP.

Lots of thunderstorms rolling off Africa already in the last weeks days .. it could be a bad sign already with the season still 4 weeks off.
Member Since: July 13, 2006 Posts: 12 Comments: 4857
345. Tazmanian
7:03 PM GMT on May 01, 2007
Posted By: MisterPerfect at 10:02 AM PDT on May 01, 2007.

What are the chances no Atlantic storms develope this year?


0%
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 114719
344. weatherboykris
6:53 PM GMT on May 01, 2007
I think he means that not every season is going to have 20-30 storms.
Member Since: December 9, 2006 Posts: 125 Comments: 11346
342. weatherboykris
6:53 PM GMT on May 01, 2007
Yes,you should use the average for warm AMO periods,which are definitely higher than the long term averages.
Member Since: December 9, 2006 Posts: 125 Comments: 11346
341. StormJunkie
6:47 PM GMT on May 01, 2007
Good to see you SW ☺

I agree that is the average 23 was using, but since we are in a time of increased activity I don't think it is really fair to use that 200 year average. I have heard that this increased activity could last as long as 40 to 50 years. Therefore I don't think we should really give to much credibility to the 200 year average until we are out of this cycle. Just my two cent.

Back to work y'all.
Member Since: August 17, 2005 Posts: 26 Comments: 15644
340. thelmores
6:47 PM GMT on May 01, 2007
SJ, don't forget Ernesto was "almost" a cane! ;)

but I guess we aren't playing horseshoes! LOL
Member Since: September 8, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 3805
339. thelmores
6:45 PM GMT on May 01, 2007
one thing you can bet for the upcoming season.... even the experts guesstimation will be wrong!

as Dr. Masters has always stated, the margin of error for such seasonal forecasts is extremely high!

bottom line, the best we can do at this point is make an educated guess!

hope I am not wasting time pointing out the obvious! LOL
Member Since: September 8, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 3805
338. StormJunkie
6:44 PM GMT on May 01, 2007
No to mention almost all of the '06 storms were fairly weak.

And with the exception of Bermuda no land mass was even close to threatened by a cane.

Hence, IMHO, the rightful assumption that '06 was a slow year as far as the tropics go.
Member Since: August 17, 2005 Posts: 26 Comments: 15644
336. StormJunkie
6:38 PM GMT on May 01, 2007
23, your statement is a little misleading.

Over the past 10 years we have averaged 14.5 storms per year. Most of those seasons had 14-16 storms. That being said, the '06 season was fairly slow compared to recent years.

The 02, and 99 seasons had 12 storms and the 97 season only had 8. Pretty much every other year has seen 14+ named storms.
Member Since: August 17, 2005 Posts: 26 Comments: 15644
334. chessrascal
6:35 PM GMT on May 01, 2007
lol

heres the satellite pic of the low in the middle and south US fairly big low pressure center.
333. chessrascal
6:33 PM GMT on May 01, 2007
i agree with u 23
332. hurricane23
5:36 PM GMT on May 01, 2007
For some reason people seem to think of 1995/2005 total numbers as the norm nowadays. For example, 2006 has been discussed as if it were a highly below average year when in reality the 10 named storms and 2 major hurricanes is normal and we were shy only 1 hurricane from average.Basically with a nina in place or neutral across the basin we should have an above average season number wise but certainly not to the levels some people are forcasting.Adrian

Adrian's Weather
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13626
331. StoryOfTheCane
5:31 PM GMT on May 01, 2007
what would be the MDR region in the East Pacific? Is it similar in latitude to the Atlantic MDR?
330. StoryOfTheCane
5:27 PM GMT on May 01, 2007
Thanks for all your answers StormJunkie, StormW and seminoles. Just to clear it up I was asking more for the understanding how these Lows work than for suggesting development in the Pacific.
329. StormJunkie
5:25 PM GMT on May 01, 2007
lmao NG, good to see you.

Welcome aboard sf.
Member Since: August 17, 2005 Posts: 26 Comments: 15644
328. NormalGuy
5:21 PM GMT on May 01, 2007
Looks pretty quiet on here for now. Will wait another week or so and this place will be busier than Wal-Mart on the first of the month.
327. stoormfury
5:13 PM GMT on May 01, 2007
this is my very first comment. it looks that the upcoming season should be very interesting compared to last year. looking forward to it.
Member Since: August 22, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 2600
326. hurricane23
5:09 PM GMT on May 01, 2007
Good afternoon...

Just wanted to announce once again the GFS upgrade which is now in affect.Some of the changes here.

Here is some of the changes.

1. REPLACE SPECTRAL STATISTICAL INTERPOLATION /SSI/ ANALYSIS
SYSTEM WITH GRIDPOINT STATISTICAL INTERPOLATION /GSI/
ANALYSIS SYSTEM.

2. USE OF INCREASED OBSERVATIONS INCLUDING FULL RESOLUTION
ATMOSPHERIC INFRARED SOUNDER /AIRS/ DATA...CONSTELLATION
OBSERVING SYSTEM FOR METEOROLOGY...IONOSPHERE AND CLIMATE
/COSMIC/ GLOBAL POSITIONING SYSTEM RADIO OCCULTATION /GPSRO/
DATA.

MODEL CHANGES:

3. MODIFY SIGMA COORDINATE SYSTEM TO A HYBRID SIGMA-PRESSURE
COORDINATE SYSTEM.

4. UPDATED GFS RADIATION MODULE

PRODUCT CHANGES:

5. SURFACE FLUX FILES HAVE 30 NEW RECORDS MAINLY FOR
HYDROLOGICAL USE

6. CHANGE OUTPUT OF GLOBAL DIAGNOSTIC ASSIMILATION SYSTEM
/GDAS/ FROM 3-HOURLY TO HOURLY

7. MODEL TO NATIVE OUTPUT FILE WILL CHANGE FROM A SIGMA
SPECTRAL BINARY FILE TO A HYBRID SPECTRAL BINARY FILE
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13626
325. MisterPerfect
5:02 PM GMT on May 01, 2007
What are the chances no Atlantic storms develope this year?
Member Since: November 1, 2006 Posts: 71 Comments: 20135
324. NormalGuy
4:57 PM GMT on May 01, 2007
Well here we go.. This one should be interesting. I hope the off season treated everyone well. Lets try and keep the discussions above the 3rd grade level this year. It was interesting last year to see whose, umm you know what was bigger, but it didn't help anyone with forecasting or analysis. I look forward to learning as I do every year.
323. Buhdog
4:51 PM GMT on May 01, 2007
ahh, the smell of fire burning..

sucks. We are so dry in SWFL (high 600's on the drought index) that at least 1 or 2 50+ acres fire goes up a day. Lehigh Acres is getting the brunt of it. Hazy days...90 degrees...We actually had our first seabreeze collision induced rain shower in Cape Coral yesterday...let's hope we get more of it with no lightning!
Member Since: July 30, 2005 Posts: 1 Comments: 960
322. seminolesfan
4:42 PM GMT on May 01, 2007
Not really relevant for this forcast area is it?
Member Since: June 14, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 2108
320. seminolesfan
4:35 PM GMT on May 01, 2007
Also, the GFS seems to favor more of a dual low pressure center forcast than the other models(CMC, NOGAPS, UKMET, etc.), so the models do not agree on this forcast.
Member Since: June 14, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 2108
318. seminolesfan
4:29 PM GMT on May 01, 2007
They both say :25 so we'll call it a tie.
Member Since: June 14, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 2108
316. seminolesfan
4:27 PM GMT on May 01, 2007
I bow to your better timing StormW. lol
Member Since: June 14, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 2108
315. seminolesfan
4:25 PM GMT on May 01, 2007
It looks like a low embedded in the ITCZ.
Member Since: June 14, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 2108
312. StormJunkie
4:02 PM GMT on May 01, 2007
Another suggestion STOC, look at all of the models and see if you can find one that hints at development. If you see other models starting to jump on board then it should warrent a little more attention.

You can find most of the models and model pages from the Quick Links page at SJ.com. Also try using vorticity models as well as pressure models.
Member Since: August 17, 2005 Posts: 26 Comments: 15644
311. StormJunkie
3:51 PM GMT on May 01, 2007
Well, not sure I can answer that question SOTC, but there is no organized circulation there, you are looking at a forecast not analysis, and I think that blob is too far south to get spinning anyway...

I geuss you might call it a cutoff low, but not even sure about that. Those are usually associated with fronts and troughs if I am not mistaken...
Member Since: August 17, 2005 Posts: 26 Comments: 15644
310. StoryOfTheCane
3:45 PM GMT on May 01, 2007
okay so say that Low stays stationary over South America, what would you call a low that emerges from that Low that appears to be happening now? At what point does a Low become two seperate entities? Why isn't every single "L" on that map considered a seperate Low Pressure System?
309. StormJunkie
3:43 PM GMT on May 01, 2007
STOTC...I think it is just a disorganized area of low pressure, not really a surface low as you would think about with a tropical system. This is just my geuss, maybe someone could elaborate more or correct me if I am wrong.
Member Since: August 17, 2005 Posts: 26 Comments: 15644
308. StoryOfTheCane
3:42 PM GMT on May 01, 2007
nobody wants to tackle those questions?
307. StoryOfTheCane
3:39 PM GMT on May 01, 2007
How come this isn't considered two SEPERATE surface lows? They seem to be parting ways to me

306. livinginnavarre
3:38 PM GMT on May 01, 2007
I think they follow me :P When I moved to south florida, Andrew came through, Then I moved to central florida, and something else came there after (I cant remember its name). I moved to the gulf coast of florida and Ivan came shortly after I moved here, Its my magnetic personality! Lol
Member Since: March 8, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 45
305. StoryOfTheCane
3:36 PM GMT on May 01, 2007
So what would you call the convection in the Pacific if its not part of the surface low?


304. stormhank
3:34 PM GMT on May 01, 2007
storm top is gettin his crop duster fined tuned for the first named storm LOL :O
Member Since: September 8, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 1385
303. StoryOfTheCane
3:33 PM GMT on May 01, 2007
did Wilma form off of a Tropical Wave or a Surface Low?
302. StoryOfTheCane
3:32 PM GMT on May 01, 2007
I havent seen StormTop since mid-season of 2006

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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.