Saturday, May 29, 2010

2010 Hurricane Season

Well its that time of year again with only a few more days until the start of Hurricane season in the Atlantic which runs from June 1st through November 30th. Every year before the season begins, a team of researchers of the Colorado State University analyze data and produce an outlook for the number of tropical systems possibly to develop in the Atlantic. Back in April, 2010, this team of researchers predicted an above average year with around 15 named storms and possibly 4 major (Cat 3, 4, 5) hurricanes. The outlook was recently revised, but not for the better. This most recent outlook increased to an eye opening 14 to 23 named systems. This is way up from from the previous 15 storms which was already above average. With the increase in the number of storms, there is an increase in the number or hurricanes and the number of major hurricanes. So here is a quick breakdown of the 2010 Hurrican season:

Named Storms: 14-23; Number of Hurricanes: 8-14; Major Hurricanes: 3-7

So, why is this season expected to be such an active one? There are several factors that are included, but here are the biggest ones. The surface temperatures of the Caribbean and the Tropical Atlantic are exceptionally warm which will provide the fuel the storms need. Neutral or La Nina conditions are developing in the Tropical Pacific with La Nina becomeing more an more likely. Computer models are also showing a vast number of storms developing and is as well predicting an extremely active season. There have been some extremely active seasons in the past and many of those season had a similar oceanic setup to this seasons’s. Remember, the average number of named storms is 11, with around 6 hurricanes, and two of which becoming major of Category 3 or higher. If this season ends up at the high end of the predicted number of storms, then it will go down as one of the most active seasons on record.

With so many tropical systems being predicted, there is increase of U.S. landfall. Anyone who lives along the coast from the Gulf of Mexico, all the way up the east coast needs to be prepared. It is impossible to predict how many storms will make landfall as that lies with atmospheric conditions, but you should have the mindset going into a season that any storms that form pose a threat.

I am worried about the huge oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico just south of Louisiana and Mississippi. Remeber Hurricane Katrina from 2005, which was the most active season on record. Look at the picture below:

Hurricane Katrina, a strong Category 5 hurricane is passing through the current location of the oil slick. If a hurricane decides to take a similar path this season, all of the works and hopes to keep as much oil out of the marshes will be lost. With the oil leak the biggest disaster in years, the last thing we need is a hurricane to track over it as it will create a natural disaster of epic proportions.

Many ingredients need to come together from water temperatures to atmospheric conditions, but this season may be one to be remembered.

Alex Pickman


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