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Zeta to ring in the New Year

By: Dr. Jeff Masters, 5:02 PM GMT on December 31, 2005

It's fitting that the unbelievable Hurricane Season of 2005 will only end when the calendar flips a page at midnight tonight, officially ending the most destructive and prolific Atlantic hurricane season on record. When I wrote my first blog of hurricane season on June 8 about Arlene, little did I suspect that I'd be toiling away on New Year's Eve seven months and 27 storms later, talking about Tropical Storm Zeta!

So here we go, the last blog on the Hurricane Season of 2005. Zeta briefly flirted with hurricane status last night, when an eye-like feature developed and a Central Dense Overcast (CDO) feature characteristic of hurricanes formed over the center. This morning, however, shear from powerful westerly winds has disrupted the eyewall and exposed the center. Zeta has deep convection only on its northeast side, and is struggling to hold onto that. Wind shear is about 25 knots and is expected slowly increase over the next two days as the storm tracks slowly westwards, and the shear should be able to tear the storm apart by Tuesday. However, the GFDL model is forecasting that Zeta will overcome this shear and strengthen to hurricane status as it recurves northwards on Monday and Tuesday.

So, it appears likely that we'll ring in the New Year with a tropical storm, the second time that has occurred. In 1954, Hurricane Alice also was around at midnight on New Year's eve, ringing in the new year of 1955. It's interesting to note that there were two storms named Alice in 1954. Alice 1 formed in June of 1954. Alice 2 formed on December 30, and should have been given the name Irene, but was not officially recognized as a tropical cyclone until January 1, 1955, when it was given the name Alice as the first storm of 1955 (they used the same list of names each year back then). When it was discovered during post-storm analysis that the storm had actually formed on December 30, it kept the name Alice, but was designated as part of the 1954 hurricane season. Most reports called this storm Alice 2 in order to avoid confusion with the earlier Alice from 1954.

Happy New Year, everyone, and I'll be back to update the hurricane season of 2006 tomorrow!

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.