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Welcome to the hurricane season of 2006!

By: Dr. Jeff Masters, 9:33 PM GMT on January 01, 2006

Happy New Year, everyone, and welcome the hurricane season of 2006! Last year's hurricane season went from A to Z--Arlene to Zeta--but this year's hurricane season will be the first to go from Z to A, at least at the start. We start the hurricane season of 2006 with Tropical Storm Zeta, and the next storm of the year will be called Alberto. If 2006 is like 1914, that will be all--hurricane season will end after just one storm, and the season will truly go from Z to A. Another, more likely way for the season to go from Z to A, is for the season to pass all the way through the alphabet again, recyling the Greek name Alpha by the end of the year.

Zeta has been holding on against persistent wind shear today, and appears likely to hang around at least another day or two as it slowly drifts westward over the open Atlantic. By Wednesday, if Zeta is still around, a strong trough of low pressure moving off of the U.S. coast should be able to recurve Zeta to the north and destroy the storm.

Jeff Masters

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

Happy New Year to all......

Zeta lives......

Thanks for the continuous updates/info Dr. Masters......
Happy New Year! Let's hope that if this season is determined to go from Z to A, it's the former and not the latter!
i hav updated my blog, happy new year!
Boy.. glad to see the backside of 2005! This 2006 had GOT to be better! - Happy New year to all !
Best of the weather to all areas.
Happy New Year to all! Here's to a replay of 1914 all over again! (well, at least weather-wise, anyway)
Here's hoping the '06 spans the alphabet from A to B. (Apologies to Dorothy Parker.)

Happy New Year to all.
Lets hope for Zeta to be the only storm of '06 lol
Yeah lol we don't really want a repeat of 1914 (World War I)
Honestly, 1914 had one storm that reached the minimum tropical storm strength of 39mph? Hmm, I very much doubt that - how could storms at sea be recognized? How could storms that burst on the scene and die in less than 24 hours be known?(like 2005's 'Jose') There was no satellite technology, no recon planes, no way to watch 'everywhere' all the time.

Historical records before satellite technology (Apr 1 1960, see link below) are only partially useful and are INCOMPLETE. It is only speculation that there was only 1 storm in 1914 that exceeded 39mph (basis for tropical storm 'naming'), very very doubtful this is actually what happened. In fact, all records before 1960 are incomplete.

We have only had complete records since the 1960s (45 years max), it's foolhardy to make-believe we have complete records going back over 100 years.

First weather satellite (1960):


For an analysis of the possibility of missed storms look in the archives at the 9:36AM Nov. 19, 2005 entry. Definitely worth reading.

Has anyone considered that there could be 2 Zetas in 2006?

So does Zeta's time in January count for the 2005 or 2006 seasons when totalling up the ACE and total storm day figures?

What I don't get is The MIDDLE Of the Season is March 1st so everything for the Season of 2005 should go to March 1st.
1914 here we come.
StormMan: They had ships back then. A ship even encountered Zeta this year.
I'm just looking at Forecaster Avila's last discussion and I can sense some exasperation with this storm....

to the SHIPS model which dissipates Zeta by 48 hours...the cooler
than normal 200 mb temperature is the only parameter contributing
to the maintenance of the cyclone. On the other hand...the GFDL
insists on making Zeta a hurricane in a couple of days and it is
hard to go against it. However...with strong westerlies aloft and
dry air heading for Zeta...I have no choice but to forecast
weakening again and again.
*Has anyone considered that there could be 2 Zetas in 2006?*

Interesting thought. What would happen if a storm named after a Greek letter was bad enough to be retired? Probably just skip that letter next time, huh?
HAHA AGAIN The NHC is Talking in Non-Formal Ways
LOL, wow 1914 was dead silent. After looking at Atlantic SSTs, we may have prematurely ended the multi-decadal signal and be going back to the quiet pattern.
"At the present time there is no provision for retiring any of the Greek alphabet names..."
NHC Frequent Questions B6 "What happens if they run out of names on the list?"
Lets take a guess at when Alberto will form...

I will say around late May we will get Alberto. There is a reason that many storms dont form before June. But 2006 has the pressure of following 2005, so we will probably get a cat 4 in February.
To StormMan

We actually have complete records going back to 1944, during World War II when routine lookout for tropical storms was needed for the convoys in World War II. Satellite observations may not have begun until 1960, but aricraft and ship reconaissance back to 1944 was thorough enough as to be considered complete.
I'm predicting June for Alberto.

It is interesting to look at how many storms there were each month in 2005 & what the average is:
May 0 .1
June 2 .5
July 5 .6
Aug. 5 2.2
Sept. 5 2.9
Oct. 6 1.8
Nov. 3 .4
Dec. 1 .1
In Nov. we got what's normal for Sept.
In Dec. we got what's normal for Oct.-Nov.
This suggests maybe a .2 chance of a storm this month - not likely but possible. Keep watching.
Hey Bobrulz,

I can appreciate your argument for complete records going back to 1944. However, I would have to suggest that the hybrid systems such as Delta, Epsilon and now Zeta very well may have gone unnoticed without the satellite imagages that began in 1960. That doesn't even take into account the very small, "Vince" that formed way out in the far East Atlantic and moved inland in extreme SW Europe which would've probably have simply been considered a non tropical system.

It is a guess at best to make assumptions that increased shipping traffic would've caught every storm between 1944 and 1960. Moreover, recon flights aren't even flown today for storms that have developed farther east of like 55-60 degrees longititude.

All of the aforementioned suggests that there were no doubt storms that indeed did form during the period from 1944 through 1960 that will never become part of the historical record.

Now consider the hyper active seaon of 1933 which had 21 identified tropical cyclones at a time when there was very little shipping traffic, no satellites, no land based radars, and no aircraft reconaissence. Therefore, I strongly suggest there isn't as great a disparity between that year and 2005 as one might first think. I hope you and everyone has a great New Year ahead.:)


hey hurricanechaser mail for you
Thank YOu Dr Masters for another great update...
Would love to see 'Z to A' and be done with Hurricanes for 2006! Give our poor trees and landscaping, not to mention roofs, a break and time to recover!

Good Morning Everyone and Happy New Year 2006 (I think I have posted that at least 500 times in the last week! But sure it is ok to say it again.)

Take Care,

i like Michael what storm dos any like from 2006?

I can see where during WWII there were lots of recons in the northern atlantic as that is the pathway to europe but I just do not agree that outside of the 6 year period of 1939-1945 there was sufficient shipping traffic to detect all storms. Not only that, what of lost ships, I am sure more than a few ships were lost at sea for a variety of reasons and there would not have been a complete way to know what happened to those ships.

As shown by their own research:


there is no way to know for sure.

Please remember that good many of storms "found" this year were rather weak or short lived or both (Bret, Gert, "19", "22", "Tammy", "Alpha", "Gamma" and so on)

I am very sure that the weak storms would had been perceived as "wicked gales" rather than being a TD or TS.

I am also very sure that the short lived storms were likely never 'determined' to be anything other than a regular 'storm', with weak winds and no storm surge, just an angry thunderstorm.

Point is, the TS/Hurricane counts are anything but accurate prior to satellite technology. The error margins in the report above are nice but hardly accurate as well because exact ship routes, time along the routes and frequency for each route during each year were not maintained for posterity. It's all educated guesswork and that's all it should be considered (that is, it's not exactly what happened).

I think its like tracking earthquakes from years ago, also impossible to know for sure with any degree of accuracy where all magnitude 3.0+ quakes occurred.

A ZETA ALERT..........

Zeta got its cover blown off overnight but has made a stealth comeback.....And the GFDL now doesnt seem so crazy.........It would not surprise me if we have HURRICANE ZETA IN THE NEXT 24 HOURS.........Fun to watch........see ya......
29. IKE
ZETA IS making a comeback and looks impressive on visible/IR satellite loops.

Zeta looks better than at any time since she named a few days ago. Just as quickly she blows up the thunderstorms could easily be pushed eastward away from the center by the strong westerly shear. Watching Zeta is half the fun.
Zeta is producing -70c cloud tops and falling...O_O
Going and Going and Going and Going and, OH WAIT, Going. If it gets to strong, it should get picked up to the north rather quickly.
ForecasterColby what going on with Zeta?
Are we really talking Hurricane? Watching the satellite images it certainly seems to be getting its act together.

There are 26 little boats out there in the path of Zeta.
I'm personally a fan of Debby (I can see the headline now, "Debby does Houston"), but you also have to give some respect to Hurricane Kirk:

"Dammit, Jim, I'm a doctor, not a weather forecaster!"
Sandi: What are those fools doing rowing out there? Don't they know it's hurricane season? ;)
According to Wikipedia the ACE record is 243. 2005 is at 241.6 & Zeta is cranking out .8 per day. Will we make it? Actually, we won't know for quite a while since the 2005 figures are subject to revision but Zeta may make the difference!

Zeta is acting like there is some sort of feedback loop holding it at a constant intensity. When it gets weaker it strengthens; when it gets stronger it weakens. Same thing with Epsilon. I think that when Zeta does finaly go it will happen very quickly.
The Chuck Berry fans in the audience will go for Nadine, of course. Consider in the lyrics, he spies her and chases her all over the place, but can't catch her.

And, if the wags are like some from 2005, there'll be pix of "Hurricane Oscar" circulating with a muppet head photoshopped into the eye.

Hi Ben,
This is the fourth race that has been organised and run since 1994, and it is the first time they have experienced tropical storms, let alone hurricanes!!

Anyway, thought we had "Hurricane Seasons" not Hurricanes- full stop!!!!
Sandi- yeah, I saw the website when they were worried about Epsilon. So, not only are they worried about storms, they have had to look for *multiple* storms! What a messed up year. As mentioned earlier in the post, though, with the limited amount of data we have to use, this may not be as abnormal as it looks. Hopefully we are getting more complete data, not actually experiencing any sort of climate change.