We are still a few months away from the start of the Atlantic Hurricane Season, which begins June 1. However, in the southern hemisphere, around Australia they are still in the tropical cyclone season for about another month.
A very dangerous and destructive storm is impacting parts of Australia currently. Severe Tropical Cyclone Ita made landfall earlier today along the northern Australia Coast in the state Queensland. Ita is a very powerful storm as maximum sustained winds were 135 knots or 155 mph with wind gusts to 165 knots or 190 mph. Looking at the system, there is no doubt that Ita is a very strong storm being fairly symmetrical, with a well-developed eye.
What always fascinates me about southern hemisphere storms is they spin backwards to what we are use to seeing in the northern hemisphere. In the southern hemisphere, cyclonic flow is clockwise verses the counter-clockwise flow we see in the northern hemisphere.
At 1pm EST Friday, Severe Tropical Cyclone Ita was situated over the
northwestern Coral Sea and moving south southwestwards towards the north
Severe Tropical Cyclone Ita is expected to shift inland during Saturday though
remain quite close to the coast. It will then most likely move southeastwards
off the southern tropical or central coast on Monday and into the Coral Sea. It
has some potential to redevelop though will be encountering a less favorable
environment and should also shift further southeast away from the east
Dr. Bill Gray just finished speaking at the Tropical Meteorology Conference at South Padre Island, discussing the challenges of seasonal hurricane forecasting and the precursors that they use.
He turned it over to Dr. Phil Klotzbach to announce their 2014 Atlantic Hurricane Season Forecast. Here are the numbers, showing their forecast and the 30 year average (1981-2010).
Named Storms: 9 (12.0)
Named Storm Days: 35 (60.1)
Hurricanes: 3 (6.5)
Hurricane Days: 12 (21.3)
Major Hurricanes: 1 (2.0)
Major Hurricane Days: 2 (3.9)
ACE*: 55 (92)
*ACE is Accumulated Cyclone Energy, a measurement of the wind energy expended by tropical cyclones. It is a better parameter for looking at the overall intensity of a storm or season.
…Klotzbach credits the pending El Nino for the below average forecast.
…The Atlantic is at its coolest since 1994 as well.
Some analog seasons cited:
…1957 Hurricane Aubrey killed at least 416 people in SW Louisiana
…1963 Flora killed over 7,000 people in the Caribbean
…1965 Hurricane Betsy struck Bahamas, South Florida and Louisiana
…1997 Hurricane Danny flooded Alabama coast
…2002 Lili impacted Gulf Coast
I cite the example storms from the analogs as a reminder that it only takes one story to make it a bad hurricane season. So even though a below average season is forecast, that is academic if storm hits you.
The North Atlantic Hurricane Season officially ends today.
There were thirteen named storms, but only two hurricanes this year in the Atlantic.
Most interestingly, for the first time since 1994, there were no major hurricanes. There have only been 33 such seasons since 1851.
The Accumulated Cyclone Energy index (ACE) is a measurement of the wind energy over the lifetime of a tropical cyclone, measured in 6 hour increments. The 2013 North Atlantic Hurricane Season will go down as the 14th slowest since 1851 with an ACE of 30. It is the slowest ACE value since 1983, when a 17 was posted.
Here is a quick rundown of this season’s named storms:
Tropical Storm Andrea:
The only U.S. landfalling storm of 2013 brought heavy rain to the Florida Panhandle on June 6th. Andrea formed from a low pressure system in the Gulf of Mexico on June 5th. It strengthened to a 65 mph tropical storm with a central pressure of 992 mb just before landfall near Steinhatchee, Florida. Its biggest impact was rainfall of 3-5 inches from Florida to New England. A storm surge of 4.55 feet was observed at Cedar Key, Florida.
Tropical Storm Barry:
A tropical depression formed over the southwestern Caribbean on June 17th, made landfall in Belize, crossed the Yucatan, became a tropical storm over the southwestern Gulf of Mexico and made landfall in the Mexican state of Veracruz early on the 20th.
Tropical Storm Chantal:
Crossed Lesser Antilles as tropical storm on July 9th, but dissipated over the eastern Caribbean.
Tropical Storm Dorian:
Formed and weakened over the open Atlantic, but redeveloped near the Bahamas
Tropical Storm Erin:
Cape Verde storm that curved north prematurely and dissipated
Tropical Storm Fernand:
Formed over the SW Caribbean and moved inland in Mexico a short time later.
Tropical Storm Gabrielle:
Short-lived, weak tropical storm that formed and dissipated in the Caribbean Sea south of Puerto Rico, but reformed close to Bermuda.
Another Cape Verde storm for the fishes that had a split life.
Another Bay of Campeche storm that impacted Mexico.
Tropical Storm Jerry:
Formed and dissipated over the open Atlantic.
Tropical Storm Karen:
Threatened the northern Gulf Coast, but fizzled just before landfall.
Tropical Storm Lorenzo:
Another storm for the fishes over the open Atlantic.
Tropical Storm Melissa:
Named as a subtropical storm over the open Atlantic that acquired tropical characteristics.
It is still officially hurricane season until the end of the month. Systems can still develop in the Atlantic basin and that has happened this morning. The NHC has started issuing advisories on newly formed Subtropical Storm Melissa in the central Atlantic. Melissa is out in the middle of no where and will not impact any land areas, but could affect some of the shipping lanes. No worries for Alabama of the U.S. mainland with this system as it will remain out over the open waters.
…SUBTROPICAL STORM MELISSA DEVELOPS OVER THE CENTRAL ATLANTIC…
SUMMARY OF 1100 AM EDT…1500 UTC…INFORMATION
ABOUT 695 MI…1120 KM ESE OF BERMUDA
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS…50 MPH…85 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT…NW OR 320 DEGREES AT 9 MPH…15 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE…987 MB…29.15 INCHES
An interesting image created by our friends at the Cooperate Institute of Meteorological Satellite Studies in Madison, Wisconsin. The have superimposed Super Typhoon Haiyan into the Gulf of Mexico at the same location as Hurricane Katrina. Haiyan is on the left and Katrina is on the right.
A neat comparison of the two showing their similarities and differences. In the image, Katrina appears to be the better organized system with a very large eye, while Haiyan appears to be more compact with the smaller eye. Both systems are at a category 5 intensity right before landfall. Luckily for the Gulf Coast Katrina weakened before moving onshore. Not such great news for the Philippines as Haiyan maintained intensity at landfall. Both systems were responsible for widespread destruction and great loss of life.
Those in the Philippines call this historic storm “Yolanda”… here is a short Instagram video from Tacloban City, Philippines @macmalz.
Scroll down for more on this big storm…
This close-up of Super Typhoon Haiyan shows structural features rarely seen in such powerful storms. Because of the time difference these images are delayed a day, but these features continue to show up on other current satellite products. Haiyan is a very well organized system and it is amazing to be able to look down into this very powerful storm. From up above we can see down into the eye and we have a clear view down to the ocean’s surface. Within the eye, small vortices are rotating around a seemingly calm center and these small vortices are mini areas of circulation within the broader center of circulation.
Another beautiful feature with this storm are the towering thunderstorms that look like bubbling mud or the tops of cauliflower, especially in the outer bands. These overshooting tops are allowing for shadows to be cast in certain areas of the storm, which enhances their texture and causes them to stand out even more. As the sun sets towards the end of the animation, you will notice the sun still hitting the top of the eastern eyewall, showing just how tall the storms are at the center of circulation.
This is very dangerous storm with sustained winds of 195 mph with gust over 235 mph. Haiyan continues to move towards the west-northwest and will be crossing and likely devastating portions of the Philippines over the next 24 hours.
The weather story of the week and perhaps the year is Super Typhoon Haiyan. Haiyan is a very powerful super typhoon that will be impacting the island nation of the Philippines. Typhoons are notorious for being the strongest storm systems on earth, and Haiyan is no exception. Haiyan is the equivalent of a category 5 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 190 mph with gust to over 230 mph. This is truly a monster and a very dangerous storm.
Haiyan is a very organized system as it has the classic buzz saw look of a very powerful tropical system. This system will move through the Philippines and will bring widespread destruction and likely loss of life. It will cross some heavily populated islands, but as of now, it looks as though the worst of the storm will miss the capital of Manila, which is the population center. The system will remain a very strong system as it continues to the west-northwest towards Vietnam.