Tue Dec 05 2006 10:03 PM
Re: Quietest Season Since 1997

the way the season tailed off quickly and early is a signature of el nino. it's unusual to have much activity in october when el nino is present, and this season was no exception. another telltale sign was the tendency for storms not form in the deep tropics and to recurve at low latitude, and then do much of their strengthening at higher latitudes. there weren't many cases to support the trend, but overall that's what we saw. there was sporadic activity early in the season, then september was active with four hurricanes... probably indicative of an mjo wave. october was the deadest since the early 1990s. the eastern pacific was more active than it has been in quite a few years, which is also a typical occurrence when el nino is running the show... there was also a bit of action in the central pacific, which is infrequent and usually related to anomalous warmth in the tropical pacific.
ENSO has been dodging any strong signal since about 2002, wavering between slightly warm and slightly cool. that may have left the tropical atlantic to take precedent in terms of guiding tropical cyclone formation, with the extreme warmth producing back to back to back highly active to hyper active seasons from 2003 to 2005. the pacific oscillation revving back up may represent a return to normal, with changes in the tropical pacific overshadowing whatever signal the atlantic may present. normally a year or two of el nino is followed by a la nina, but this is not always true. the 2006 el nino was rather poorly predicted (climate science is very sketchy, and this is a good example), and while a sudden flip to la nina has been known to follow, i'd expect 2007 to follow on as a neutral to warm type season with moderate activity. the state of tropical oceans in the spring of next year will be our real predictor... right now all we can reasonably do is speculate and reference historic behavior.
hope you guys enjoyed tracking the '06 season. every year is it's own unique animal, and it was nice to see a taste of normalcy in what has been an over-active span for more than a decade. if i didn't have the late 80s-early 90s as a benchmark and had been spoon fed post-1994 as an introduction to hurricane tracking, i'd probably think 2006 was some kind of pissant fluke season... but it's just another side of the coin. we just saw the near-average version of a hurricane season assert itself, and it was a shocking sight for some of us...
HF 0302z06december

waiting for the snow, now...

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