HURRICANES – HOW LONG CAN WE DODGE THE BULLET?

Warmer than normal Atlantic waters are associated with more active hurricane seasons.

We are now in the warm phase of the multi-decadal Atlantic Ocean temperature oscillations which began around 1995. The previous warm oscillation occurred from 1930 through 1960. If this phase runs as long as the previous one, we passed the halfway point of this one around 2010. It is believed the warmer Atlantic waters, combined with African monsoons are the main cause of increased hurricane activity over the Atlantic Basin.

When seasonal predictions are made, they are compared to the “normal” number of tropical storms; however, what is called normal is really an average that changes over the years. From 1980 to 2010, the storm/hurricane/major numbers were 12/6/3. But those numbers since 1995 have increased to 15/8/4 because of increases in the number of storms. Some studies have pointed out that the numbers have increased over the past decade and a half because more relatively weak and short-lived storms have been detected that were unnoticed in prior years.

Predictions for the 2012 season will be made from time to time before June 1, but the answer to when we will get hit cannot be determined until several days before the storm is out there. And we can always hope it won’t be for several mmore years. The best thing about hurricanes is that it is not like a tornado. We have time to prepare, and get out of its way if necessary.

Too early for know for the hurricane season, but La Nina frequently means a dry winter for Florida.

The La Nina pattern of the east Pacific often is related to less winter frontal storms from the Gulf and across Florida. In some years these storms track northeastward allowing milder winter temperatures for Florida. However, the past two winters have seen the Arctic Oscillation send bitter cold and heavy snows across the northeastern U.S. A report from the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, CO indicates a rapid freezing under way over eastern Canada and Greenland. With a warm Pacific jet stream pushing northward into Alaska (remember the Big Bering Sea storm this October), a return surge southward may be setting the stage for some wicked winter weather for parts of our Atlantic seaboard.

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