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Tame Tropics Trending Toward Trouble?
Submitted by Tim Buckley on Tue, 08/17/2010 - 8:24am.
So far, so good. That's been our motto up to this point in the 2010 Hurricane Season. But could this quiet activity come to an end? Right now, both history and long range models would lead you to believe the answer is yes.
It's a simple fact of climatology that Hurricane Season kicks into high gear in the months of August and September. In the graph above you can see that when you plot all the storms from 1966 - 2009 you get a big spike in activity right around mid-August. Looking back at data like this makes you appereciate just how quiet the whole Atlantic Basin has been over the past few weeks. Yes, that's a good thing!
But could we be headed toward the spike in activity soon. The all important question! Observations and models are starting to trend that way.
On our latest Atlantic Satellite view, you can clearly see a large increase in wave activity over the African Continent and near the Cape Verde Islands. This is the "birthplace" for so much of the hurricane activity that we eventually see here on our shores. As these waves move offshore, they sometimes become organized into areas of low pressure, develop a spin, and blossom into tropical storms and hurricanes.
Some of the most important tools we use to help forecast hurricane development are computer models. These computers take in the current conditions around the globe, crunch the numbers, and spit out forecasts several times per day. They are by no means right all of the time - or even most of the time, but they give meteorologists a "good idea" of where the forecast may be headed.
Right now, the general model "idea" is definitely trending toward a more active tropical pattern. See for yourself:
This is a Global Forecast System (GFS) forecast for this Friday which takes a wave currently moving off of Africa intensifying it into an area of low pressure somewhere near 40W.
Fast forward to Tuesday the 25th, and the GFS has the same low more intense north of the Leeward Islands. Not only that, but several other waves are starting to follow in its footsteps.
If you go way way out into the future (sometimes called "Fantasy Land" by meteorologists given its unpredictable nature) by Sunday August 29th, the GFS spits out a fairly major storm heading into the Carolina coast. Note there are still more waves behind it.
Now, if you're looking at these forecast panels and saying, "Whoa Nelly! We're going to get the big one!" That's the wrong approach. Forecasts as far as two weeks into the future are wildly unpredictable especially with tropical systems. What I think we can say at this point, is that it looks as if our quiet pattern is giving way to one that looks to be much more active.
For now, we'll keep our eyes zeroed in on the African coast, watching these waves as the move off - seeing when and if they develop into anything as they make the long journey across the Atlantic!
If you're one who likes to track for yourself, make sure to check out our Hurricanes 101 page for all sorts of cool tools this hurricane season.
That's all for now - enjoy the sunshine!
By: Tim Buckley