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Cyclopsychic research breakthrough proves hurricanes/global warming connection

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 12:16 PM GMT on April 01, 2008

A stunning new breakthrough in hurricane research has conclusively settled the matter: global warming is making Atlantic hurricanes and tropical storms more frequent. The new research, accepted for publication later this millennium in The Journal of Irreproducible Results, offers incontrovertible proof that global warming has increased Atlantic named storms by 57-67% over the past century. Using the pioneering new techniques of cyclopsychic storm detection and psychomortorodentiatempestology, the researchers, Professors Peter Webcaster and Judith Flurryfury of the Georgia Institute of Technophobia, and Dr. Greg Hallmonitor of the Colorado Association for Research and Modeling of the Atmosphere (CARMA), showed unequivocally that the lack of satellite measurements and aircraft reconnaissance in the early part of the hurricane record led to only a modest undercount of Atlantic tropical storms. Thus, more than half of the observed increase in named storms in the past century can be attributed to global warming.

"It's well-known that the number of Atlantic named storms has risen from 7-9 per year 100 years ago to 14-15 per year during the present active hurricane period that began in 1995," commented Professor Webcaster in an interview today. "Some MEEAT-loving hurricane researchers (Measure Everything, Everywhere, All the Time) have claimed that this rise was not real, since satellites and reconnaissance aircraft were not around to detect storms early in the hurricane record. We've made efforts in the past to quantify the number of 'missed' historical Atlantic storms using estimates of historical shipping traffic density, and computer regression models that compare recent well-observed storm activity to past storm activity. However, these studies have been pooh-poohed by the MEEAT men, who refuse to believe any science that comes out of a model. So, I began thinking about how we could actually go about observing historical Atlantic storms that were 'missed'. I began thinking the problem in a new light after watching my favorite episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, "Timescape", where subspace entity mistakenly lays her eggs in the warp core singularity of a Romulan warship, creating a temporal anomaly that forces time to flow backwards. This inspired me to think outside the box, and it occurred to me that paranormal methods might offer a way to see back in time and make actual observations of past storms--and offer a technophobic solution to the problem, as encouraged by the charter of my university, the Georgia Institute of Technophobia."

Figure 1. Cyclopsychic observations of "missing" Atlantic tropical storms during the 20th century. All observations were performed by trained cyclopsychic Madame Cyclotropia. Note the significant drop in "missed" storms beginning in the 1940s, corresponding to the advent of aircraft reconnaissance, and in the 1970s, when satellite coverage of the Atlantic Ocean began.

Webcaster teamed with Hallmonitor and Flurryfury to experiment with a variety of paranormal techniques to make actual observations of past "missing" storms, using Ouija Boards, crystal ball gazing, the Magic Eight Ball, and channeling of restless dead spirits. Initial experiments proved discouraging, though, when the researchers attempted to perform the study themselves. "We were feeling depressed about how the research was going, having just stayed up late one Friday night in Greg's lab in Boulder trying to get the dang Magic Eight Ball to say something other than just REPLY HAZY, TRY AGAIN LATER," related Dr. Webcaster. "So, we decided to give up for the night and down a few shots of grape jello spiked with grain alcohol and delve into Greg's extensive collection of Zippy the Pinhead comic books. After a few jello shots and Zippy comics, we got feeling pretty loose, and, Yow! Decided to trek down to Pearl Street to check out the weekend psychic fair. Well, we got to staggering around the tents of the psychic fair, belting out the sorrowful lyrics of our own version of "Somewhere over the rainbow" we made up:

Somewhere, over the ocean
Back in time
Cyclones formed and decayed
Unseen by humankind

Somehow, we'll find out how many
Before we die
But it doesn't look good
'Cause the Magic Eight Ball lies!

Suddenly, we saw a mysterious shadowy figure beckoning to us from the entrance of a nearby tent, which was emblazoned with the words, Madame Cyclotropia: Psychic Readings for Troubled Atmospheric Scientists. 'I can help you find your missing storms', the seer in the shadows croaked, 'for I know much that is hidden. Come into my lair, and I will reveal the key to unlocking the mysteries of storms long past'. Greg and I looked at each other, shrugged, walked in her tent, and the rest is history."

Once in Madame Cyclotropia's tent, the researchers quickly realized that their limited scientific training could not hope to allow them to conduct rigorous paranormal research. Only a true cyclopsychic with "The Gift" could see back into the dim mists of time to divine the existence of heretofore unknown tropical cyclones. Using her cyclopsychic gift, Madame Cyclotropia correctly divined the past tracks of numerous known storms the scientists challenged her with. However, when asked to divine the existence of "missing" Atlantic storms that had not made it into the official database, she prophesied that she would only be able to do so if the scientists would write her into their latest grant proposal. This grant proposal would surely get funded, she predicted. The scientists eagerly agreed, and headed back to the lab to work on the new proposal.

Webcaster, Hallmonitor, and Flurryfury's proposal, titled, "Using a Trained Cyclopsychic to Divine Past Atlantic Tropical Cyclone Activity", was submitted to the Foundation for Atmospheric Research for Science and Education (FARSE) in early 2007 and accepted later that year. After receiving their grant money, the scientists began spending long nights in Madame Cyclotropia's tent, documenting her revelations from the four primary cyclopsychic techniques: Ouija Board, crystal ball gazing, the Magic Eight Ball, and channeling of restless dead spirits. According to Dr. Hallmonitor, "We were thrilled when the first three techniques we tried all yielded virtually identical results, showing the robustness of our experimental methodology. The three techniques all showed a noticeable drop in the number of "missed" storms in the 1940s, when aircraft reconnaissance became available, and in the 1970s, when satellites coverage began over the Atlantic Ocean. However, when we tried to channel restless dead spirits, we ran into a roadblock. We couldn't find any restless dead spirits with an interest or knowledge of historical Atlantic hurricanes. We happily attributed this to the propensity of dead meteorologists to wind up inside Heaven's Pearly Gates, but were sad that our research would lack this crucial final proof of its validity. We were about to give up when Peter then hit upon the idea of contacting the spirits of groundhogs, who are known for their weather prognosticating ability. Some of these prognosticating rodents might have unfinished business that would keep their restless souls adrift in the ether, available for consultation on weather-related matters. We coined word psychomortorodentiatempestology to describe this exciting new branch of hurricane science, and set off in search of gifted groundhogs spirits with this special skill."

Figure 2. Wee Willy One and Chucky before their departure into the hereafter. Which rodent's spirit would you trust to get accurate weather information from?

Indeed, Madame Cyclotropia was able to contact the spirit of "Wee Willy One", a famed albino groundhog that had once burrowed under the fair gardens of Wiarton, Ontario, and provided weather forecasts each Groundhog's Day up until his death in 2006. Wee Willy One proved to be testy and uncooperative, though, deliberately delivering incorrect storm information. The researchers sought out help from cyclotherapy experts from the Center for Disease Control's Weather Related Illness Division to determine if cyclotherapy might help Wee Willy One overcome his bad attitude. Cyclotherapist Dr. Sandy Chirpchuckle diagnosed Wee Willy One as a cyclopath suffering from rare form of cyclopsychosis. Ordinarily, cyclopsychosis manifests itself only in hurricane scientists and weather enthusiasts during the long, dull months prior to hurricane season. The despondent victims of cyclopsychosis spend long hours in front of flickering computer monitors in dark, gloomy rooms, obsessively poring over maps and statistics of hurricanes long gone by. The victims tend to become highly antisocial but never violent, and can be successfully treated with cycloactive drugs. However, Dr. Chirpchuckle diagnosed Wee Willy One with an extremely rare case of "shadow" cyclopsychosis, brought on by the cyclological trauma being rudely hauled out of his burrow each February 2 so that a bunch of cockamaimie humans could see whether he saw his shadow or not. "Shadow" cyclopsychosis is incurable, both in this world and the hereafter, so Madame Cyclotropia was forced to seek out other groundhog spirits. After months of effort, she finally found the spirit of "Chucky", a friendly groundhog that had once burrowed under the gardens of Nashville, Tennessee. Chucky eagerly provided accurate information on the "missing" Atlantic tropical storms that was precisely in agreement with the data collected from the other cyclopsychic techniques. "We were ecstatic," exclaimed Dr. Hallmonitor. "More jello shots!"

Hurricane experts world-wide are hailing the new findings. "These exciting results conclusively prove that even us blind squirrels can find some nuts," enthused renown hurricane expert, Dr. Kerry Readthemanual of the Massachusetts Institute of Technophobia. Dr. Readthemanual has been a leading proponent of the global warming/Atlantic hurricane link. Even former critics are praising the new findings. Dr. William Graymatter, Professor Über-Emeritus of Colorado State University's Center for Hurricane Observation, Measurement, and Prediction (CHOMP), said in an interview: "I've been in the hurricane business for 113 years, and I know good research when I see it. The findings of Webcaster, Hallmonitor, and Flurryfury are based on solid observational evidence and white magic. There's no black magic involved, such as the use of a computer model, so their results are impregnable."

Dr. Chris Blandsee, Chief Scientist of the Natural Hurricane Center's division of Global Warming Isn't Responsible for the Recent Upswing in Atlantic Hurricane Activity, and Even If It Was, We Wouldn't be Able to Tell, Since the Quality of the Atlantic Hurricane Database is Too Poor to Use for Such Purposes (NHC/GWIRRUAHAEIIWWWATSQAHDTPUSP), has also been critical of past research showing a link between hurricanes and global warming, maintaining that global warming isn't responsible for the recent upswing in Atlantic hurricane activity, and even if it was, we wouldn't be able to tell, since the quality of the Atlantic hurricane database is too poor to use for such purposes. It was his Congressional testimony, along with that of former NHC director Max Minefield, which inspired President Bushwhacker's administration to rename the National Hurricane Center the "Natural Hurricane Center" last year. (This action was also urged by the Government Anagram Accountability Office (GAAO), which found that the letters in "National Hurricane Center" could be rearranged to spell the ominous phrase, "Errant Herculean Inaction"--and also the disturbing, "Teenier Charlatan Unicorn", and the clearly unacceptable, "Inhale Cocaine, Errant Runt!", while the letters in "Natural Hurricane Center" could be rearranged to form phrases much more in harmony with the NHC mission, such as "Natural, Neater, Crunchier.")

Dr. Blandsee grudgingly gave ground in his comments today. "It looks like Webcaster, Hallmonitor, and Flurryfury (and don't try to say her name three times fast) have done some pretty rigorous scientific work," he conceded. "But they've written what is probably the longest and most excruciatingly dull hurricane science paper of all time. All those old storms and their analyzed tracks that they talk about, on and on and on, year by year by year. Ugh! A lot of good trees died to publish that paper. It was even duller than some of my clunkers!"

What's next for the pioneering researchers? "Well, CARMA and the Georgia Institute of Technophobia are collaborating on a grant proposal with Dr. Graymatter and Phil Flossblack of CHOMP to apply cyclopsychic methods in a new way--improvement of seasonal hurricane forecasts," said Dr. Flurryfury. "We've submitted a proposal to FARSE titled, 'Gray Magic: Using Cyclopsychic Methods to Improve Seasonal Hurricane Forecasts'. Lord knows, the forecast busts of the past two hurricane seasons have shown that Flossblack and Dr. Graymatter could use some supernatural help with their predictions."

April Fools!
Meff Jasters

Hallmonitor, G.J., and P.J. Webcaster, 2007, "Heightened tropical cyclone activity in the North Atlantic: natural variability or climate trend?" Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society A 365, Number 1860, 15 November 2007, Pages: 26952716 DOI: 10.1098/rsta.2007.2083

The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

Reader Comments

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958. hydrus
1:07 PM GMT on April 05, 2008
At least the forcasts are saying that the southern half of florida has a decent chance of significant rain thru tuesday.
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957. Weather456
9:11 AM AST on April 05, 2008
927. hahaguy 12:22 AM AST on April 05, 2008
isnt't true sometimes if a storm is moving pretty fast that it makes the winds feel worse or no

Yes, the speed of motion is added to the current wind speed mainly to the right of motion of a westward moving tropical cyclone.

Contributed by Chris Landsea
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956. FLWeatherFreak91
9:17 AM EDT on April 05, 2008
* at 746 am CDT... National Weather Service Doppler radar indicated a
severe thunderstorm capable of producing a tornado near Bellview...
or about 8 miles west of Pensacola... moving northeast at 35 mph.
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955. Patrap
8:17 AM CDT on April 05, 2008
Nobodys Fault But Mine...Link
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954. FLWeatherFreak91
8:53 AM EDT on April 05, 2008
Ivan- that's what I'm worried about because with the SW wind our west coast seabreeze may move too far inland to provide me with a chance for rain. Then if the squall line gets here and the air has already been stabilized we may end up with nothing more than a sprinkle.
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953. Ivansrvivr
12:30 PM GMT on April 05, 2008
WF91 don't be surprised if seabreeze convective activity robs that squall line of alot of it's energy.
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952. Ivansrvivr
12:24 PM GMT on April 05, 2008
I can imagine water puddling vertically. Hurricane Dennis hit right when a property nearby was being rebulit. The sodded the yard the day before the storm. We were on west side of eyewall so wind was out of north. The adjascent house to the rebuilt one had it's entire north facing side covered in sod. Upsidedown too both stories. the sod was 4-5 layers thick horizontally laid perfectly on the side of that house (except it wasn't green side up).
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951. Ivansrvivr
12:21 PM GMT on April 05, 2008
wF91. There may be a squall line but summer type "seabreeze" activity is more likely over the entire southern half of the peninsula after noon.
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950. FLWeatherFreak91
8:19 AM EDT on April 05, 2008
Thanks guys
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949. FLWeatherFreak91
8:16 AM EDT on April 05, 2008
O wow. That run is obviously picking up on the line unexpectedly extending that far south in the gulf because the previous run had nothing like that
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946. FLWeatherFreak91
8:09 AM EDT on April 05, 2008
Hey guys. I need someone who is a good forecaster to tell me if Tampa could get a squall line later as this front moves south. JFl just showed us that a large area of convection has formed south of la and I want someone to predict if that will sustain itself to the W coast. thanks
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944. davidw221
12:02 PM GMT on April 05, 2008
gulfcoastdweller, I've tried to see a history of SST's from last year, but I'm just not that computer savey
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943. FLWeatherFreak91
7:58 AM EDT on April 05, 2008
936. Ivansrvivr 3:16 AM EDT on April 05, 2008 Hide this comment.
I wonder if winds are so strong in major that rain doesn't land just blows around in air till it gets to weaker part of storm.

Oh no... it rains. I was living on the coast of the Dominican Republic when Hurricane Georges came through as a cat 3 and the rain was blowing sideways like you said, but the water actually puddled vertically (if you can even imagine that...) Every wall and window I could see that was being struck directly by the wind had puddles covering it as if it was the ground. It was obvious where there were slight dips and imperfections in the walls because the water would collect there and not be able to run down the wall. That's the force of a hurricane...
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942. davidw221
11:57 AM GMT on April 05, 2008
I have read the Drought monitor site for years, every friday, they post a new map, now I'm seeing something that maybe political movatied with them, they either don't post after a good raining in the southeast, or they post prior to a rainfall, I bet they don't post next week due to the lage amout of rain Northern Alabama and Georgia is getting. Anyway, those red colors will dissapear next week, some areas are getting 6 to 10 inches of rain, and its still raining. I wait and see!
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939. davidw221
11:53 AM GMT on April 05, 2008
Is this the nomral SST's for this time of the Year in the GOM?
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938. all4hurricanes
11:03 AM GMT on April 05, 2008
In Northern VA we got at least an inch with some sleet not hail my apology all the rain is heading south of us
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936. Ivansrvivr
7:13 AM GMT on April 05, 2008
I wonder if winds are so strong in major that rain doesn't land just blows around in air till it gets to weaker part of storm.
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935. Ivansrvivr
7:02 AM GMT on April 05, 2008
Im was on Ivan's wet side. the dry air was inhibiting precip on the SW side. I was on East side. Local tv station reported 15 inches of rain. I remember that after Irene I was expecing to see rain like Id never imagined in ivan with it being so strong. I saw wind like I'd never imagined, only moderate rain that tasted like salt water.I think a good portion of the rain was windblown off the ocean/bay which was 5 min walk from house. I sat outside for much of Ivan while SE winds kept the 20 ft of yard between house and next door protected from wind. As Eye went by, wind came out of south, so I had to move indoors. That was worst part not being able to see what I was hearing outside.
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934. moonlightcowboy
12:01 AM CDT on April 05, 2008
Have a good sleep, SDFish!

-- ListenerVT, things don't seem to be quite as active as earlier, but some watches and warnings are still out as this system punches through.

You might visit Vortfix's Severe Weather blog - it generally will have any new warnings posted and applicable radars. It's a great blog!

You can also go to College of DuPage Meteorology Severe Weather for the latest warnings, too.

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933. SouthDadeFish
5:02 AM GMT on April 05, 2008
Yeah MLC Katrina is another example of hurricane that has pulled in dry air. You can see it during loops of the storm as it approaches the coast. Its overall structure deteriorates I assume due to dry air and other conditions. I believe its something people should consider when thinking of the effects of a landfalling storm. The amount of moisture in the surrounding environment is very important. And with that I'm going to sleep. Good night =]
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932. moonlightcowboy
11:59 PM CDT on April 04, 2008
Good response, SDFish! Yeah, while I was shocked at Katrina coming thru, as was taken aback at the lack of rainfall. It was weird!
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931. SouthDadeFish
4:57 AM GMT on April 05, 2008

I do not live in NC but the Raleigh radar shows that the main line of storms has already pushed through. I know there were some warnings up in SC i earlier i believe but I'm not sure about NC. If your worried about tornadoes, Wunderground has a great page for it. You can find it on the top of the page with the rest of links and its title "tornadoes"

Hope I was of some help. And I'm going to sleep now. Night all.
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930. SouthDadeFish
4:48 AM GMT on April 05, 2008
I think part of the reason certain storms drop more the rain than others has to do with the moisture in the atmosphere. If a hurricane has recently pulled dry air then it makes sense that it would not have as much moisture and therefore not as much rain. Ivan for example may have sucked in some dry air before making landfall as its southwestern eyewall was very weak as it made landfall. Thus when some tropical storms, a memorable rainmaker is allison, have a very moist environment, they are able to produce more rain. The strength of a cyclone in wind speed and the amounts of rain fallen are not always related. It is indeed a very interesting aspect of tropical cyclones.
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929. moonlightcowboy
11:42 PM CDT on April 04, 2008
Ivan, that's an interesting point. Why is that? Katrina as powerful and destructive as it was, hardly dropped a comparible amount of rain. We've had TS that dropped considerably more rain.
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928. listenerVT
4:29 AM GMT on April 05, 2008
So, anyone here in NC?

Our son is in Raleigh with our DIL and granddaughter.

Just wondering how the storm seems.
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927. hahaguy
11:19 PM EST on April 04, 2008
isnt't true sometimes if a storm is moving pretty fast that it makes the winds feel worse or no
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926. Ivansrvivr
4:06 AM GMT on April 05, 2008
Enso Neutral to weak Nino will likely be somewhat similar to 04.

Just some FYI. It rained MUCH harder in Irene than Ivan. you'd think the opposite would be true but Ivan didn't seem to have as much rain as many other tropical systems I have experienced.
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925. Weather456
12:05 AM AST on April 05, 2008
well i'm off....night all
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924. Weather456
12:02 AM AST on April 05, 2008
456, look close at 04 vs 08. there is hint of very weak ridge almost in same position that strong one is in now. There are 2 well defined ridges this year. in 04 the western ridge was far weaker. I expect the current western ridge to weaken as SOI drops.

Yeah I see that. Well I am in agreement that our current Westward ridge will move further east into the Central Atlantic (thats why i used the term Centralised Atlantic ridge).
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923. Ivansrvivr
4:02 AM GMT on April 05, 2008
An ITCZ that is active early often leads to an active season. (or is sign of active season)
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922. Ivansrvivr
3:58 AM GMT on April 05, 2008
The Bermuda high in 04 was broad. that was the killer for Florida. It was not so strong to squash t-storm activity like last year. it was just wide in diameter. My next hurricane forecast will reflect 04 as closer to my expected model year.
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921. Weather456
11:53 PM AST on April 04, 2008
915. SouthDadeFish 11:49 PM AST on April 04, 2008
Ooh thanks. So what role does OLR have on tropical systems? Or does that graphic just show how active the ITCZ have been?

It is used as a measure of cloudiness and rainfall. Like in the active phase of the MJO which favors upward motion, clouds form which can lead to anomalous rainfall. Here, the OLR values will be low becuz of cloud reflectivity. So by looking at the OLR anomalies, one can indicate regions of below normal or above normal cloud cover and rainfall. This can help diagnose and track large scale patterns like Monsoons and the MJO or can it be used to assess the activity of the sub ridges and ITCZ which play a role in TC Cyclogenesis.

In other words, if it were July or August, we would look at the ITCZ with great interest due to the increase convective/cloud/rainfall activity which enhanced TC activity.
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919. Ivansrvivr
3:53 AM GMT on April 05, 2008
456, look close at 04 vs 08. there is hint of very weak ridge almost in same position that strong one is in now. There are 2 well defined ridges this year. in 04 the western ridge was far weaker. I expect the current western ridge to weaken as SOI drops.
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918. Weather456
11:49 PM AST on April 04, 2008
912. SouthDadeFish 11:48 PM AST on April 04, 2008
Thanks for those new images 456. So if you think the subtropical ridges will cause it to change its position where do propose the high will shift to?

Based on Gray, I am still holding onto the a Central ATL Ridge based on the GFS forecast the NAO. Yes there are alot of other factors that determine the final position, and even so it will still be variable but for simplicity sake, that is my thinking.
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917. Ivansrvivr
3:51 AM GMT on April 05, 2008
907 which side of eye were you on? the SW track meant the NW section was RFQ.
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916. Ivansrvivr
3:49 AM GMT on April 05, 2008
La Nina is weakening quickly. That will cause Bermuda High to shift somewhat eastward as a trend. Springtime storm systems can also push the Bermuda high east but temporarily.
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915. SouthDadeFish
3:48 AM GMT on April 05, 2008
Ooh thanks. So what role does OLR have on tropical systems? Or does that graphic just show how active the ITCZ have been?
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914. hahaguy
10:48 PM EST on April 04, 2008
so if the ridge stays where it is at now what would that mean
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913. Ivansrvivr
3:44 AM GMT on April 05, 2008
There are alot of factors favoring an active season this yr. The ITCZ leads to "triggers" later in the season that when conditions are good, are the focal point of tropical development. You need WarmSSTs, moist air, low shear and "triggers" to act on favorable environment. The SSTs are the only thing not unusually favorable this year as of now.
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912. SouthDadeFish
3:45 AM GMT on April 05, 2008
Thanks for those new images 456. So if you think the subtropical ridges will cause it to change its position where do propose the high will shift to?
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911. Weather456
11:46 PM AST on April 04, 2008
910. SouthDadeFish 11:45 PM AST on April 04, 2008
456, what exactly is OLR?

Outgoing Longwave Radiation, that is, the energy emitted from the earth surface. Naturally the values will be low above heavy cloud cover as oppose to high values in Deserts and the Subtropics.
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910. SouthDadeFish
3:43 AM GMT on April 05, 2008
456, what exactly is OLR?
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909. Weather456
11:40 PM AST on April 04, 2008
904. SouthDadeFish 11:38 PM AST on April 04, 2008
From the graphics you posted 456 it looks like the high so far this year is a bit farther west than in 2004. Wouldn't you say so?

Exactly. Not only that....but the March 2008 ridge is clearly further West than the March 2004 ridge.

The subtropical ridges will normally weaken change thier position for the summer.
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908. Ivansrvivr
3:39 AM GMT on April 05, 2008
The A?B high hasn't locked in yet. Spring storms will push it around some. The A/B high would likely shift a bit east with the transition to ENSO neutral pattern (to weak Nino later) also. La Nina tends to push Bermuda high west and strengthen it. Look at the western 07 ridge and the strong winds to it's south. It was far stronger than 05. too strong for active season.
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