2012 – NOT AS MANY HURRICANES AS 2011

This year’s hurricane season should see about half as many storms as last year. That’s what Drs. William Gray and Phil Klotzbach are predicting. For the 2012 season they expect a total of 10 Tropical Storms, 4 of them reaching Hurricane status, and only 2 becoming Major Hurricanes. While this forecast covers a broad area stretching across the Atlantic Ocean to the western Hemisphere, it cannot tell us which shorelines, if any, will be hit. That can only be determined when the particular pattern of pressure systems, troughs, and jet streams are in place a week or two before the storm(s) form. While the odds of a hurricane appear to be less when there are less storms in progress, it’s important to remember that it takes just one hurricane on a track to our shore to make it a bad hurricane season for us.

The names for this season are Alberto, Beryl, Chris, Debby, Ernesto, Florence, Gordon, Helene, Isaac, and Joyce if there are only 10 storms this season. If there are any more, they would come from the next name on the list that includes Kirk, Leslie, Michael, Nadine, Oscar, Patty, Rafael, Sandy, Tony, Valerie, and William.

Some of you may be surprised that such a decrease in tropical storms is predicted in the light of this year’s mild winter and such a big warmup so early this spring. The fact is that the vast reaches of the Atlantic Ocean are now cooler than they were last year, which means there is less heat energy to spawn so many tropical storms. Also, we are likely to be affected by an eastern Pacific EL Nino this fall which produces a storm-shearing upper level jet stream that often limits the vertical dimension of storms over our tropical waters.

But even in El Nino years there have been some very destructive hurricanes. South Florida residents remember hurricane Andrew that demolished Homestead in 1992. Hurricane Alicia slammed into the Galveston-Houston area in 1983, and Hurricane Betsy in 1965 took a path across the Florida Keys and caused 11 billion dollars damage on the northern Gulf coast at New Orleans.

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