Saturday, July 19, 2008

Hurricane season update

So, I've not lost track of my priorities while traveling around Africa the last few days.

Things are brewing out there... and this coming week could be an active one with storms potentially heading for both the Carolinas and the Gulf... but keep reading.

Hurricane season has been off to a quick start so far this year, in both the Atlantic and Eastern Pacific. The Atlantic just got its third system yesterday (with another one to come soon... more on that later) and the E. Pac is up to 6 already. Less than two months into the 6 month season, that's a lot. (Both basins normally get about 10-12 named storms per year). Generally though, when the E. Pac has more storms than the Atlantic, that trend usually holds for the rest of the season (as in El Nino years). So, counter to the pre-season forecasts, what we've seen so far seems to point towards a more normal-ish season for the Atlantic. But as a wise forecaster once said, "it only takes one storm to have a bad season." Very true.

Hurricane Bertha has been alive nearly the entire month of July. A pretty amazing storm, really. It was the farthest east-ward forming storm in recorded history in July (just a few hundred km off the coast of Africa!), and is now the longest lasting hurricane in recorded history in July, and the longest lasting hurricane in the Atlantic since Hurricane Ivan in 2004. Bertha went through two periods of rapid intensification during its lifetime - reaching Cat. 3 twice. Earlier this week, Bertha scraped Bermuda as a Cat. 1 - but other than that has pretty much stayed out of people's way.

Last night, a depression formed off the coast of Georgia - and is expected to barely reach tropical storm strength (it would be given the name Cristobal) as it heads along the coastline toward North Carolina and out to sea. Probably won't be too much of a problem.

The one after that... is what I worried might happen while I was away. Right now, it's not technically even a depression yet... but it will be given the name Dolly when it forms in 2 or 3 days. The storm has remained consistent for the last couple of days off the coast of South America. Its expected track should be south of Jamaica, near the Yucatan peninsula, and into the Gulf of Mexico - where, as you know, hurricanes have a tendency to do some bad things (at least in the last few years). Yesterday, one computer model (GFDL) had this storm hitting Houston as a Cat. 5 next Thursday (Jul 24th). At this point, it should be taken as just barely more likely than science fiction, but it gives you a hint at what is possible - just a heads up.

I'll be giving more updates as things develop.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

yikes! I thought a lot of storms formed off the coast of Africa...? (Mozambique maybe???)