CSU: expect a quiet 2012 Atlantic hurricane season; EF-3 tornado confirmed in Texas

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:47 PM GMT on April 05, 2012

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Expect one of the quietest Atlantic hurricane seasons since 1995 this year, say the hurricane forecasting team of Dr. Phil Klotzbach and Dr. Bill Gray of Colorado State University (CSU) in their latest seasonal forecast issued April 4. They call for an Atlantic hurricane season with below-average activity: 10 named storms, 4 hurricanes, and 2 intense hurricanes. An average season has 10 - 11 named storms, 6 hurricanes, and 2 intense hurricanes. The 2012 forecast calls for a below-average chance of a major hurricane hitting the U.S., both along the East Coast (24% chance, 31% chance is average) and the Gulf Coast (24% chance, 30% chance is average). The Caribbean is forecast to have a 34% chance of seeing at least one major hurricane (42% is average.) Four years with similar pre-season March atmospheric and oceanic conditions were selected as "analogue" years that the 2012 hurricane season may resemble: 2009, 2001, 1965, and 1957. These years all had neutral to El Niño conditions during hurricane season. The average activity for these years was 9.5 named storms, 4.8 hurricanes, and 2.3 major hurricanes.


Figure 1. Departure of sea surface temperature (SST) from average for April 5, 2012, as computed by NOAA's NESDIS branch. SSTs in the hurricane Main Development Region (red box) were near average to below-average.

Why the forecast of a quiet season?
The CSU team cited two main reasons why this may be a quieter than average hurricane season:

1) La Niña has weakened rapidly over the tropical Eastern Pacific over the past month, and is expected to be gone by the end of April. In its wake, El Niño conditions may develop in time for the August - September - October peak of hurricane season. If El Niño conditions are present this fall, this will likely bring about a quiet Atlantic hurricane season due to increased upper-level winds over the tropical Atlantic creating wind shear that will tend to tear storms apart. The CSU team is leaning towards putting their trust in the ECMWF model, which is predicting that a weak El Niño event will be in place by fall.

2) Sea surface temperatures (SSTs) in the Main Development Region (MDR) for hurricanes from the Caribbean to the coast of Africa between 10°N and 20°N were near average to below average in March 2012. Virtually all African waves originate in the MDR, and these African waves account for 85% of all Atlantic major hurricanes and 60% of all named storms. When SSTs in the MDR are much above average during hurricane season, a very active season typically results (if there is no El Niño event present.) Conversely, when MDR SSTs are cooler than average, a below-average Atlantic hurricane season is more likely. This year's SSTs in the MDR are among the coolest we've seen since our current active hurricane period began in 1995. The cool temperatures are largely due to strong surface winds that blew during the winter over the tropical Atlantic in response to the positive phase of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO.) The strong winds stirred up the water, bringing up cooler waters from the depths.

How good are the April forecasts?
The forecasters are using a new statistical model developed last year for making April forecasts, so we don't have a long enough track record to judge how good the new model is. The new model correctly predicted a more active than average season for last year, though called for more activity than was actually observed. However, April forecasts of hurricane season activity are low-skill, since they must deal with the so-called "predictability barrier." April is the time of year when the El Niño/La Niña phenomenon commonly undergoes a rapid change from one state to another, making it difficult to predict whether we will have El Niño, La Niña, or neutral conditions in place for the coming hurricane season. Correctly predicting this is key, since if El Niño, conditions are present this fall, this will likely bring about a quiet Atlantic hurricane season due to increased upper-level winds over the tropical Atlantic creating wind shear that will tend to tear storms apart.

CSU maintains an Excel spreadsheet of their forecast errors ( expressed as a mathematical correlation coefficient, where positive means a skilled forecast, and negative means they did worse than climatology) for their their April forecasts. For now, these April forecasts should simply be viewed as an interesting research effort that has the potential to make skillful forecasts. The next CSU forecast, due by June 1, is the one worth paying attention to. Their early June forecasts have shown considerable skill over the years.

Preliminary NWS survey of the April 3rd, 2012 Dallas, Texas tornadoes
The Fort Worth Weather Service office began surveying tornado damage yesterday from three tornadoes that ripped through the Dallas metro area on Tuesday afternoon. Official storm surveys will be released in the next few days. The Arlington/Kennendale tornado has a preliminary rating of EF-2. They suspect wind speeds peaked around 135mph, a path length of 4.6 miles, and a maximum width of 400 yards (1/4 mile). The Lancaster/Hutchins tornado has a preliminary rating of EF-2, and they suspect it had a maximum width of 200 yards (1/8 mile). The Forney tornado has a preliminary rating of EF-3, with suspected winds up to 150 mph. Surveys are ongoing--there's a lot of damage to see along the tornado paths. These ratings reflect the most severe damage the teams have seen so far. Eighteen tornado warnings were issued by the National Weather Service in Fort Worth on Tuesday, which saved hundreds of lives. There were no fatalities Tuesday, which is welcome news in the wake of 2011's deadly tornado season.


Figure 2. This photo was taken by a NWS Storm Survey team in Lancaster TX on April 4, 2012. It shows EF-2 tornado damage that occurred in parts of Lancaster on April 3, 2012.


Figure 3. From the Weather Service: This is an aerial photograph of a tornado damaged area in Arlington TX. The damage from the tornado that affected Kennedale and Arlington on April 3, 2012 has been given a preliminary rating of EF-2. The photo was taken on Wednesday, April 4, looking to the east.

Portlight disaster relief charity responds to this year's tornadoes
Disaster relief charity portlight.org sent Thomas Hudson to the DFW area yesterday to do damage assessment and determine whether there is a need for Portlight's services in the wake of the tornadoes. Check out the Portlight blog to see the latest updates, and catch up the great work they've been doing in Harrisburg, Illinois in the wake of the devastating EF-4 tornado that hit the town on Leap Day, 2012.

Jeff Masters

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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

No, both the SOI and Sea Surface Temperatures have fallen, and risen, respectively, recently.

Ik but the pase of change is less drastic...
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1115. hydrus
Quoting weatherh98:
It's still creepy how similar it is, the change has slowed down though which means it may not be a very strong one...
It may not be strong, but it is a good bet that El-Nino will show itself. Very unusual to have a La-Nina stick around any longer then it already has.
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 21054
Quoting weatherh98:
It's still creepy how similar it is, the change has slowed down though which means it may not be a very strong one...

No, both the SOI and Sea Surface Temperatures have fallen, and risen, respectively, recently.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31917
Quoting weatherh98:


This was obamas doing though because the Saudis want him reelected


Where does this come from?
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Quoting RTSplayer:


The Republican owned oil companies drove up the prices in an attempt to make the democratic party look bad.

It's the same old crap every election cycle. Whoever loses does whatever they can, from whatever industry they control, to hurt the winners, in some cases even if they hurt themselves in the process.


Exactly, because Ike hit a oil-rich, strongly Republican state. But everyone realized what happened and the prices went back down.
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We have analyzed the most recent data and our high level seasonal forecast is 7-2-1.
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Quoting wunderkidcayman:
hey guys just wanting to show you guys this

forecast now

forecast sametime last year

umm see something simmilar


Another reason why 2009 isn't a good analog year, this time 2009 it was predicted to be a weak El Nino, this year it's predicted to be very warm neutral before going back.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

The difference here is that we're almost at 0 °C and the SOI continues to fall.
It's still creepy how similar it is, the change has slowed down though which means it may not be a very strong one...
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Quoting wunderkidcayman:
hey guys just wanting to show you guys this

forecast now

forecast sametime last year

umm see something simmilar


That's straight creepy
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Quoting wunderkidcayman:
hey guys just wanting to show you guys this

forecast now

forecast sametime last year

umm see something simmilar

The difference here is that we're almost at 0 °C and the SOI continues to fall.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31917
1106. Skyepony (Mod)
Head Researcher: Boulder, Colorado a “hot spot” for Fukushima fallout — None of their other US or Canadian samples came close to Boulder’s contamination, except Portland which was even higher
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hey guys just wanting to show you guys this

forecast now

forecast sametime last year

umm see something simmilar
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I don't think a strong El nino will form like in the years 06 and 09.A weak one at best which is why I'm thinking of a little bit in the way of higher numbers..around 12-14.But no matter if it's a year where we have a abundant name of storms as it only takes one.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 16898
Quoting WxGeekVA:


I'm the nerdiest white guy you can find, and i walked into a 7-11 wearing a hoodie and bought an iced tea and skittles while wearing sunglasses and the cashier didn't even bat an eye. Racial stereotyping is just so messed up, that it shouldn't be a joking matter...


What is strange is that none of Zimmeran lawyers have met him face-to-face. Just phone calls.
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1102. Patrap
Uploaded by VideoFromSpace on Apr 5, 2012

NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter captured imagery of a Red Planet dust devil on March 14, 2012. Different from a tornado, this phenomena sometimes occurs on clear days when the heated surface interacts with pockets of cool air above it.

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 423 Comments: 127874
1101. geepy86
Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
Be back later...Going to the store for some Skittles and an Amazon Iced Tea.

Bet you don't come back.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

It's the measure of air pressure in the west/east Pacific. A prolonged period of positive SOI values are typically indicative of La Niña while a prolonged period of negative SOI values typically are indicative of an El Niño.


Thank ya

Trying to learn it now before the season starts so I'm not as lost as last uear
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

You're not right :P


I'm the nerdiest white guy you can find, and i walked into a 7-11 wearing a hoodie and bought an iced tea and skittles while wearing sunglasses and the cashier didn't even bat an eye. Racial stereotyping is just so messed up, that it shouldn't be a joking matter...
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1098. ncstorm
RIP Travon Martin!
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Last month the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter was a storm chaser (kind of like Helen Hunt in "Twister"!) and it paid off with some great footage.

Weather is otherwise sort of boring on Mars there aren't tornadoes or thunderstorms since it's a dry planet so dust devils are the main show. They're even bigger on Mars than Earth. The camera captured an aerial shot of the dust devil kicking up red dirt 12 miles above the surface of the planet, which is pretty big even in Martian terms.

"It really is the size of it that is the unique thing," Jet Propulsion Laboratory scientist Ashwin Vasavada told the Los Angeles Times.

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter was able to catch a shot of the dust devil because it has such a huge telescope, like a spy camera, that can zoom in on details from the surface as small as 11.8 inches across.

(Editors note: If it wasn't obvious before, yes, the animation is a recreation of what happened on the surface, but we'll let you know when James Cameron gets live 3D footage from the surface of the planet himself. In the meantime, this article explains how tornadoes are different than dust devils and why they're so tall and spindly on Mars.)
Link

Separate Link to the actual article issued by NASA
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Quoting weatherh98:


What's soi

It's the measure of air pressure in the west/east Pacific. A prolonged period of positive SOI values are typically indicative of La Niña while a prolonged period of negative SOI values typically are indicative of an El Niño.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31917
1095. Skyepony (Mod)
A cloud of fear: Greenpeace releases infrared image of giant 'explosive' gas spewing from Elgin rig

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-212 5471/Total-gas-leak-Greenpeace-release-infra-red-i mage-explosive-gas-spewing-Elgin-rig.html#ixzz1rV8 CHscJ


Greenpeace says the bright pink spots visible in the image show the natural - and non-toxic - hydrogen gases being emitted by the platform.

Meanwhile, the darker purple areas depict the dangerous portion of the gas cloud - which consists mainly of methane.

The image, taken from outside the security distance of three nautical miles, uses light tones to show heat and dark tones to indicate cold.

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Quoting WxGeekVA:


Don't forget your hoodie!

You're not right :P
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31917
Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:
The SOI continues to crash and now is well inside negative status.



What's soi
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The SOI continues to crash and now is well inside negative status.

Member Since: April 29, 2009 Posts: 75 Comments: 14226
Maybe a surprise severe weather event tomorrow?

Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 83 Comments: 7754
Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
Be back later...Going to the store for some Skittles and an Amazon Iced Tea.


Don't forget your hoodie!
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Quoting yqt1001:


We'll get a CV major. It's almost guaranteed. Even 2009 had a CV major that broke a record (which was broken again by Julia in 2010 :P )


Well, past decade you can almost count on the "I" storm breaking some sort of record, or at least making a decent run at it. I don't know why, but it just happens.

they usually insanely powerful, or gigantic, or ridiculously long lived, or some combination of that, or form in weird locations, etc.

Isidore 1990 - lowest lattitude
Irene 1999 - fastest speed, Diameter
Isaac 2000 - cat 4
Iris 2001 - Cat 4, 7mi eye
Isidore 2002 - major
Isabelle 2003 - Intensity, duration, size
Ivan - Intensity, formation location
Irene 2005 - earliest formation
Ike - Size, intensity
Igor - Size
Irene 2011 - size, inland flooding

ok, 2006, 2007, and 2009 were sort of duds, but...

So with only 3 exceptions, every "I" since 1999 has been a major, and several of them broke some sort of record...
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520
Be back later...Going to the store for some Skittles and an Amazon Iced Tea.
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Looking through the blog posts of April, 2011, you can practically copy and paste them for the predictions of the 2012 season. High SST’s, homegrown storms, watch out Gulf of Mexico, etc.
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Hydrus:

If you count shale oil and two key off-shore regions by Florida and California, the U.S. supposedly has some absolutely obscene amounts of reserves in excess of a trillion barrels, with about 600 Billion of it being shale oil.


On the senate floor a couple years ago, one of the Republican representatives, I forget which, actually made the claim that there was so much oil that you'd run out of Oxygen to burn before you ran out of the oil, which may have been hyperbole, but it makes the point that running out of oil isn't actually the real problem.


There's also supposedly enough Coal still in known deposits to last for several hundred years.


So the problem isn't even theoretically in the supply part.

The problem is burning all this stuff would eventually destroy all life.
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520
1085. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting CybrTeddy:


Yes, I think it's among our best. I'm not sure why CSU used 2009 as an analog year but I'm not really seeing it, other than it's a neutral year moving into a El Nino.
the boys at CSU are counting on a full el nino for the season but it may be mid sept before we start to get to that point then again maybe the boys at CSU see something the rest don't either way we have 54 days to see how the ninos will play out at the start

as always
wait watch see
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Quoting RTSplayer:


The Republican owned oil companies drove up the prices in an attempt to make the democratic party look bad.

It's the same old crap every election cycle. Whoever loses does whatever they can, from whatever industry they control, to hurt the winners, in some cases even if they hurt themselves in the process.


But this is to put up a smoke screen before the election.
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Quoting Levi32:


No, it is partially maintained by subsidence warming at the tropopause, not within the subtropical ridge, which is found lower down. The TUTT lies above the subtropical ridge, and thus is not directly affected by subsidence due to that ridge. However, as I said before, it may be possible that the suppression of convection due to a stronger subtropical ridge could allow the TUTT to strengthen because the cold pocket would not be warmed by the intrusion of thunderstorms, and assuming most of the compressional warming is capped below the 300mb level, that could make sense.


That does make sense, no latent heat would be released of that were the case.... And it could remain colder....
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Quoting caneswatch:


In 2008, it shot way up to $4 a gallon but then falls like a rock by summer. Believe it or not, it only shot up just over a dollar from the time he got elected to late 2010. Not bad for two years. If you noticed just before the last presidential election, gas went down to around $1.80 a gallon (with a brief spike before it hit that point courtesy of gouging from Ike).


The Republican owned oil companies drove up the prices in an attempt to make the democratic party look bad.

It's the same old crap every election cycle. Whoever loses does whatever they can, from whatever industry they control, to hurt the winners, in some cases even if they hurt themselves in the process.
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520
1081. hydrus
Quoting weatherh98:


Obama recently made a deal with the Saudi's to cut gas prices now to get re-elected and when ever the election I over, the prices will shoot up!

This is rediculous!!
I do not think that president Obama is cutting a deal with the Saudi,s to get re-elected. Saudi Arabia is sitting on approximately 50 trillion dollars worth of oil. The world is seeking alternatives other than oil so they can be independent of it. Some countries are well on there way to doing just that, and the Saudi,s do not want to get stuck with oil that wont sell later on. Saudi Arabia is spending large amounts of money on alternative energy as well, fusion, solar and wind are big on there list. It is worthy to note that Saudi Arabia has the second highest amount of proven oil reserves in the world at 18%. Venezuela has the most at 20% of the global reserve. Canada ranks third.Proven Oil Reserves, as published by the CIA Factbook, 2009
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 21054
My numbers: 13-5-3, with 9-3-1 being homegrown non Cape Verde systems
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1079. Levi32
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

Well, I was thinking, and I could be completely wrong, but a TUTT is maintained by subsidence from the subtropical ridge, correct? Well then, if the subtropical ridge is stronger, does that not imply stronger subsidence, and a stronger TUTT?


No, it is partially maintained by subsidence warming at the tropopause, not within the subtropical ridge, which is found lower down. The TUTT lies above the subtropical ridge, and thus is not directly affected by subsidence due to that ridge. However, as I said before, it may be possible that the suppression of convection due to a stronger subtropical ridge could allow the TUTT to strengthen because the cold pocket would not be warmed by the intrusion of thunderstorms, and assuming most of the compressional warming is capped below the 300mb level, that could make sense.
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Quoting caneswatch:


In 2008, it shot way up to $4 a gallon but then falls like a rock by summer. Believe it or not, it only shot up just over a dollar from the time he got elected to late 2010. Not bad for two years. If you noticed just before the last presidential election, gas went down to around $1.80 a gallon (with a brief spike before it hit that point courtesy of gouging from Ike).


This was obamas doing though because the Saudis want him reelected
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1077. Levi32
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Hey Levi, are you still around?


I'm still here for a few.
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Quoting weatherh98:


Obama recently made a deal with the Saudi's to cut gas prices now to get re-elected and when ever the election I over, the prices will shoot up!

This is rediculous!!


In 2008, it shot way up to $4 a gallon but then fell like a rock by summer. Believe it or not, it only shot up just over a dollar from the time he got elected to late 2010. Not bad for two years. If you noticed just before the last presidential election, gas went down to around $1.80 a gallon (with a brief spike before it hit that point courtesy of gouging from Ike).
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

Well, I was thinking, and I could be completely wrong, but a TUTT is maintained by subsidence from the subtropical ridge, correct? Well then, if the subtropical ridge is stronger, does that not imply stronger subsidence, and a stronger TUTT?


Not necessarily, because the stronger the ridge the more sinking air which would mean more subsidence to overcome the cooler air. And if there isn't enough subsidence then you have no TUTT, I think that would be right?!
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Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:


Do you think 2002 may be a good analog for what could occur in 2012?



Yes, I think it's among our best. I'm not sure why CSU used 2009 as an analog year but I'm not really seeing it, other than it's a neutral year moving into a El Nino.
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Quoting weatherh98:


Nah he stopped replying a while back.

Well, I was thinking, and I could be completely wrong, but a TUTT is maintained by subsidence from the subtropical ridge, correct? Well then, if the subtropical ridge is stronger, does that not imply stronger subsidence, and a stronger TUTT?
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31917
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Hey Levi, are you still around?


Nah he stopped replying a while back.
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Hey Levi, are you still around?
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31917
1070. yqt1001
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

To completely honest, I'd be surprised if we got a major hurricane out of the Eastern Atlantic.


We'll get a CV major. It's almost guaranteed. Even 2009 had a CV major that broke a record (which was broken again by Julia in 2010 :P )
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Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:


Do you think 2002 may be a good analog for what could occur in 2012?



Yea we decided that last page :)
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

To completely honest, I'd be surprised if we got a major hurricane out of the Eastern Atlantic. My main concern is home grown systems that may find favorable conditions to spin up rapidly, particularly in the northwest Caribbean Sea (Rina?) and Gulf of Mexico (Humberto?). We'll have to see how wind shear, sea surface temperatures, and SAL especially look in June.


Hey can you review Levi and my conversation, we need clarification!!
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Quoting CybrTeddy:
Regarding the seasonal activity, Dr. Masters noted that 65% of storms that develop usually develop from the MDR, and the MDR is featuring below average SST's this year. While this is similar to 2009, 2009 however didn't have the abundance of warmth we had in the western Atlantic. The warmth in the western Atlantic is closer to what we saw last year and in 2010, with above average SST's. Also, if I recall shear and vertical instability is running below and above average respectively in the western Atlantic.


April 7th, 2012.


April 8th, 2012.



In short, I believe the CV season will be similar to 2009, and we probably won't see a CV hurricane until mid to late August which is about average, and we probably won't see much in the way of hurricanes in the MDR. However, unlike 2009 and 2006 with the amount of warmth in the western Atlantic, a lot of the energy will be better focused there, and we will have much more in the way of home grown development. So, in short it won't be as active, no where near as active as the last two years, but I think it will end up with a solid 11-12 named, with 7 hurricanes, and 3 majors. Two majors would be CV hurricanes.


Do you think 2002 may be a good analog for what could occur in 2012?

Member Since: April 29, 2009 Posts: 75 Comments: 14226
Quoting CybrTeddy:
Regarding the seasonal activity, Dr. Masters noted that 65% of storms that develop usually develop from the MDR, and the MDR is featuring below average SST's this year. While this is similar to 2009, 2009 however didn't have the abundance of warmth we had in the western Atlantic. The warmth in the western Atlantic is closer to what we saw last year and in 2010, with above average SST's. Also, if I recall shear and vertical instability is running below and above average respectively in the western Atlantic.


April 7th, 2012.


April 8th, 2012.



In short, I believe the CV season will be similar to 2009, and we probably won't see a CV hurricane until mid to late August which is about average, and we probably won't see much in the way of hurricanes in the MDR. However, unlike 2009 and 2006 with the amount of warmth in the western Atlantic, a lot of the energy will be better focused there, and we will have much more in the way of home grown development. So, in short it won't be as active, no where near as active as the last two years, but I think it will end up with a solid 11-12 named, with 7 hurricanes, and 3 majors. Two majors would be CV hurricanes.

To completely honest, I'd be surprised if we got a major hurricane out of the Eastern Atlantic. My main concern is home grown systems that may find favorable conditions to spin up rapidly, particularly in the northwest Caribbean Sea (Rina?) and Gulf of Mexico (Humberto?). We'll have to see how wind shear, sea surface temperatures, and SAL especially look in June.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31917

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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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