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General Discussion >> Hurricane Ask/Tell

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Lamar-Plant City
Storm Tracker


Reged: Mon
Posts: 348
Loc: Plant City, Florida 28.01N 82.12W
SST Question
      #90140 - Tue Feb 01 2011 04:09 PM

This is a question for Ed. I am still learning about the SSTs and their long range effects on tropical cyclones. You mentioned that they appear to be on the cold side compared to 'normal'. I know that sea temps change much more slowly than air temps, but is it always the case that cold temps NOW will translate into colder temps during the season? Just as we have had a cold winter along the GOM that has the water temps lower than normal, can't we have a warm spring and make up the difference in the SSTs? Or have I stumbled on one of the reasons that long-range forcasting is so hard?
I guess the meat of the question is....how strong of a link is there between SSTs now and in the future?

Edited by Ed Dunham (Thu Feb 03 2011 12:22 AM)


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Ed DunhamAdministrator
Former Meteorologist & CFHC Forum Moderator (Ed Passed Away on May 14, 2017)


Reged: Sun
Posts: 2565
Loc: Melbourne, FL
Re: SST Question [Re: Lamar-Plant City]
      #90147 - Thu Feb 03 2011 01:01 AM

You've asked a good question and the short answer is that there is very little correlation between current SSTs and those that can be expected later in the year. An oceanographer could probably do a better job with the answer, but large scale circulations (ocean currents) in the Atlantic Ocean are really the driving force behind SST forecasts.

A couple of definitions from CSU:

Atlantic Multi-Decadal Oscillation (AMO) – A mode of natural variability that occurs in the North Atlantic Ocean and evidencing itself in fluctuations in both sea surface temperature and sea level pressure fields. The AMO is likely related to fluctuations in the strength of the thermohaline circulation.

Thermohaline Circulation (THC) – A large-scale circulation in the Atlantic Ocean that is driven by fluctuations in salinity and temperature. When the THC is stronger than normal, the AMO tends to be in its warm (or positive) phase.

Yes, we could indeed have a warm Spring and make up the difference in the near shore local SSTs and in fact the latest SST Outlook (Jan 31st) does call for neutral SST anomalies in the Gulf of Mexico and the western Atlantic. However, SST anomalies in the eastern Atlantic, which were much above normal last year, are expected to be neutral this year during the 2011 hurricane season and this usually translates into fewer named storms than the activity that we saw in 2010.

Your last statement is still very correct in that forecasting SSTs is one of the more difficult and least accurate forecasts. There are still indications in the SST outlook that the current La Nina will be a multi-year event.
Cheers,
ED


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