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The 2014 Atlantic Hurricane season is over. 2015's run June 1st-Nov 30th, 2015.
Number of days since last Hurricane Landfall in US: 167 (Arthur) , in Florida: 3342 (9 y 1 m) (Wilma)
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Ed Dunham

End of an Era

Posted: 02:40 PM 01 September 2014
It is beginning to look like the era of 'high spin cycle' tropical cyclone activity in the Atlantic basin that started in 1995 has run its course with only three named storms recorded through the end of August. There were hints of that demise last year with a below normal level of hurricane development, i.e., only two Cat I storms - the last time that the Atlantic only had two hurricanes in a season was 1982. The last time that a season had three or less named storms by August 31st was in 1994 - the last year of the previous 'quiet cycle' in the Atlantic.

In the 45 seasons from 1950-2014 there were 17 seasons that only had three named storms by August 31st, so its not an unusual event, but it is unusual that the last one was 20 years ago. At the other end of the activity spectrum, in 1995, 2005, 2011 and 2012 there were 12 named storms by August 31st. Here are the previous 16 seasons since 1950 with three or less named storms prior to September 1st along with activity totals for those years, totals for the following year, and hurricane landfall statistics for the 16 seasons:

Year - # by 8/31 - total activity - following year - U.S. landfalls - FL landfalls
1952 2 6/6/3 13/6/4 1 0
1956 3 8/4/2 7/3/2 1 1
1957 2 7/3/2 10/7/5 1 0
1961 1 11/8/7 5/3/1 2 0
1962 2 5/3/1 9/7/2 0 0
1963 2 9/7/2 12/6/6 1 0
1965 3 6/4/1 11/7/3 1 0
1967 1 8/6/1 8/4/0 1 0
1977 1 6/5/1 12/5/2 1 0
1980 3 11/9/2 12/7/3 1 0
1982 3 6/2/1 4/3/1 0 0
1983 2 4/3/1 13/5/1 1 0
1987 3 7/3/1 11/5/3 1 1
1991 2 8/4/2 7/4/1 1 0
1992 2 7/4/1 7/3/1 1 1
1994 3 7/3/0 19/11/5* 0 0

Average 2 7/5/2 9/5/2 1 0
(*1995 was not included in the 'following year' average since 1995 was the start of the active cycle.)

Note that although these were all slow starting years (and mostly quiet years), every season except 1994 had at least one major hurricane. Although these were mostly quiet years, only three of them did not have a U.S. landfalling hurricane, while in Florida only three seasons had a landfalling hurricane. In the following year, one season had normal activity while seven seasons were above normal and seven seasons had below normal named storm activity, i.e., no correlation to the previous year. On average, based on the 16 seasons that started with three named storms (or less) by August 31st, this season would be expected to have four more named storms - with a minimum of one more and a maximum of eight more.

Since the lack of activity cannot be blamed on an El Nino event (it has not yet started), it is increasingly likely that the period of Atlantic high tropical cyclone activity has ended. However, it is important to remember that the likelihood of a U.S. hurricane landfall is about the same (approximately 22%) during a 'quiet cycle' era as it is during an 'active cycle' era - and that is also true for a Florida hurricane landfall (about 5%).
ED
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Ed Dunham

Hurricane Arthur

Posted: 05:50 PM 03 July 2014
Kudos to The Weather Channel for deviating from the 'official' forecast earlier this afternoon. At 5PM EDT on July 3rd, NHC made an adjustment westward with the forecast track for Hurricane Arthur - and the actual track is probably going to be slightly west of that.

An upper level low located near 39N 58W at 03/21Z continues to retrograde westward. High pressure is centered south of the Great Lakes behind a cool front moving eastward through the Appalachian Range. Hurricane Arthur continues to maintain more of a north northeast movement and I would anticipate a track adjustment on a course a little more to the west with Arthur moving over eastern North Carolina just to the west of the Outer Banks as a Cat II Hurricane Thursday night into the early hours of Friday morning. As the front approaches the east coast, Arthur will be nudged into more of a northeast movement with the center passing just to the southeast of Cape Cod around midnight Friday night as a minimal Cat I hurricane undergoing extratropical transition.

Hurricane conditions likely over eastern North Carolina within 25 miles of the center track in the southwest and northwest quadrants and within 75 miles of the track in the northeast and southeast quadrants. Any hurricane preparations by those who are in or near the path of the hurricane should have already been completed. A fully transitioned strong Extratropical storm should pass over Nova Scotia on Saturday and over Newfoundland on Sunday.
ED
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Ed Dunham

Hurricane Supplies

Posted: 02:43 PM 28 May 2014
Its been a long time - over 8.5 years - since a hurricane made landfall in Florida. Have you checked your hurricane supplies lately? If you haven't, some items may need to be updated/replaced. Most folks (myself included) have a box of batteries in their personal home emergency kit, but its been so long since the last storm that the chances could be pretty good that those batteries may need to be replaced.

Have any canned or powdered foods exceeded their storage or use date?

If you have a generator, have you checked it out recently to see if it is still in good operating order? If you stored gasoline for that generator last year, its time to use it in a vehicle or other equipment and refill the gas containers with a supply of fresh gasoline.

If you put aside some medications/insulin etc., in a First Aid kit for use in an emergency when you might not be able to get to your doctor for a few days, are they still useable?

Do you still have a small analog battery-operated TV in your hurricane supply kit? If so, it will no longer work and you will need a digital TV replacement. There are some good ones on the market that will usually pick up a few stations with their built-in antenna.

If a hurricane reduces the IQ of your Smart Phone, do you have an alternate plan for getting in touch with co-workers, friends and relatives? A portable radio is valuable for getting storm updates, evacuation status changes and school and business closings/openings.

Don't forget to include the needs of your pets in your hurricane planning - especially if you need to evacuate when a storm threatens.

I have this uneasy feeling that this year someone in Florida is going to be thankful that they took the time to prepare for the storm.
ED
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Ed Dunham

Are Seasonal Forecasts Worthwhile?

Posted: 11:27 AM 24 October 2013
In another Forum, Robbissimo asked some excellent questions that are certainly pertinent to this season:

"I would still like to hear your take on the 8th Anniversary of Wilma, specifically whether predicting the weather and hurricanes in particular is a worthwhile endeavor. Seriously, would anyone have predicted we'd go eight years without a single hurricane? Is it that unusual?"

All good questions that I'm sure others have also considered. The short answer is 'No', I certainly would not have predicted an 8 year hurricane drought for Florida and it is rare to go that long without a landfalling hurricane in the state. Here is a link to a Met Blog that I posted in early May of 2012 that chronicles other long stretches without a hurricane in Florida:

Florida's Next Hurricane

The 'Outlook for 2014' in the 2014 Storm Forum explores the probability that the 2014 season may be even quieter than 2013.

Predicting the weather in general and the characteristics of a specific hurricane is a most worthwhile effort. Any type of warning (Hurricane, Tornado, Flood) usually means that deaths and injuries are reduced.

Meteorology is the youngest natural science - perhaps with 150 years under its belt as a science. Compare that with astronomy with 5,000 years. Weather prediction has improved considerably, but we are still learning about the atmosphere and how to predict its changes. With the exception of summertime showers, local weather forecasts are much better than they were 50 years ago. New technology (radar, satellite, computers) has helped to make forecasts better. Does a forecast for 100% chance of rain fail to verify every now and then? - yes, but the science itself is still young. Do seasonal rainfall/temperature forecasts have merit even though their accuracy is limited? - yes, because agricultural and transportation interests, et al, can use them for planning purposes (and often save money as a result). Do seasonal hurricane forecasts have merit? - I think so, although after this season I'm sure that there will be a considerable amount of discussion and research (and soul-searching) related to that topic. Insurance companies don't really use that data as much as the public is lead to believe - but Emergency Management folks do - again, for resource planning purposes. It doesn't always prove very useful for two reasons: 1) the old adage that 'all it takes is one bad storm during an otherwise quiet season', and 2) the outlook can be way off base (like this year) - which takes us back to 'the science itself is still young'.

To continue to make the forecast and to then have some significant forecast failures usually motivates the science to seek answers in an attempt to improve the next forecast.
ED
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Ed Dunham

Realities

Posted: 12:06 PM 30 August 2013
So far this season there has been six Tropical Storms - which certainly indicates an above average level of activity - but the basin is again quiet at a time when the climatological peak of the season is less than two weeks away. In an average season with 11 named storms, by September 1st there would have been 5 named tropical cyclones and 2 of them would have reached hurricane strength. Many seasonal forecasts for 2013 pointed to another year of high tropical cyclone activity in the Atlantic, but is there enough time left in the season for these forecasts to verify?

As an example, the latest (August 2nd) seasonal forecast from Colorado State University still anticipated 18 named storms this year. With 6 so far, the rest of the season needs 12 more for the forecast to verify, or an average of one named storm per week from September 1st through November 23rd (with 8 of the 12 becoming hurricanes since their forecast also expected 8 hurricanes). Checking the past 60 years (1953-2012), has this frequency ever happened before? The answer is 'Yes', although not very often. In 1969, 13 named storms formed in that time frame; 2005 had 14 and 2010 had 16. Other years that came close include 1953 - 10, 1961 - 10, 1984 - 11, 1995 - 11, 1998 - 10, 2000 - 10, 2001 - 11 and 2012 - 11. In a couple of those years a named storm or two actually developed after November 23rd.

Based on the past 60 seasons, the probability of 12 or more named storms forming in the next 12 weeks (through November 23rd) is 5%.

As noted above, how often is the Atlantic basin this quiet prior to the peak of the season? Once again I looked at the past 60 years to find seasons with no named storms from August 27th through September 2nd - with the following results: 1956, 1959, 1968, 1970, 1987, 1994 and 1997. The probability of occurrence for a quiet week during that timeframe is 11.7% - a little more common than I would have guessed. An Invest area with a low pressure center is about to exit the west African coast and could become a named tropical storm by September 2nd, but it will be close as to whether the system develops by then or a day or two later.

Easterly windshear over tropical central Africa remains uncommonly strong and most of the easterly waves over the continent this season have been disorganized under this constant shear. A band of westerly shear from roughly 15N-20N remains strong in the central Atlantic from 70W eastward to 30W. So far this season, atmospheric conditions are simply not yet supportive for significant tropical cyclone development in the central Atlantic primary genesis area - but that could change and a busy late season is still possible.
ED
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