Friday, November 30, 2012

Final look at the hurricane season

Our minds are focusing on winter weather now, and the long-range computer models still can't seem to agree on a possible change to much colder and stormier weather in mid-December, but let's take a break today and put the 2012 hurricane season to bed.

Today is the final official day of the season, and it proved to be busier than usual.

Actually, it was busy mostly for meteorologists, because the U.S. mainland -- with two notable exceptions -- escaped the wrath of the busy season.

There were 19 named storms in the Atlantic and Caribbean in 2012, and that's well above the seasonal average of 12. In fact, 2012 was tied for the fifth-busiest tropical season ever. Interestingly, that total of 19 named storms has been reached five times -- including the past three years, 2010 through 2012.

That, of course, adds support to the theory that we're in a busy cycle of tropical storm activity.

I've read the summaries on each of the 19 storms this season, and a couple things jump out at me:

THE EARLY START ... The first named system was Tropical Storm Alberto, and it formed on May 19 off the South Carolina coast.  And if that wasn't enough, Tropical Storm Beryl formed a week later, also off the S.C. coast. Both of those storms drifted southwest and made landfall in Florida.

NOTHING MAJOR ... Only one hurricane achieved "major" status, which is for Category 3, 4 or 5 storms. That was Michael, which had top winds of 115 mph as a Category 3.  Sandy and Gordon each had top winds of 110 mph. So for the most part, our busy season consisted of tropical storms and weaker hurricanes.

ONLY FOUR U.S. LANDFALLS ... And two of those were the weak early-season tropical storms, Alberto and Beryl.  The other two were hurricanes.  Isaac made landfall Aug. 28 in Louisiana, west of New Orleans. Fortunately, it caused nowhere near the damage of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Isaac pushed northwest and died out in Oklahoma. Isaac caused $2.3 billion damage.

The other storm, of course, was Sandy. That made landfall in New Jersey on Oct. 29 and caused $50 billion damage. It has reshaped parts of the New Jersey coastline forever.  Sandy also defied logic several times, including its hard left turn into the Jersey shore. Normally, storms that ride up the East Coast generally follow the coast, rather than make 90-degree turns.

NADINE ... Few people really noticed Hurricane Nadine, and that's because it remained in the eastern and central Atlantic during its lifetime.  But Nadine was in existence, either as a tropical storm or hurricane, for 24 days. During those 3 1/2 weeks, it was carried back and forth by weak steering currents in late September.

CAROLINAS IMPACT ... Hurricane Sandy brushed the Outer Banks and did millions' of dollars in damage. However, the state was not affected by any dying tropical storms this season. Those systems often bring heavy rainfall to inland areas of the Carolinas. This year's storm tracks, however, kept weakening systems away from our region.


THAT WINTER OUTLOOK ... I plan to write again later this weekend, taking a look at that possible change in our weather pattern in two weeks or so.  The computer models keep flip-flopping on it, but it's certainly keeping meteorologists talking.


Archiguy said...

Most reputable climatologists (that would be any NOT on the payroll of huge energy conglomerates) are saying this increasing frequency of summer storms in the Atlantic is going to become routine as the years and decades proceed.

Some of those years will have a number of huge, violent hurricanes that cause increasing amounts of damage to our coastlines. ALL the meteorological data is pointing to this pattern only intensifying in years to come. That's the regrettable situation that 30 years of ignoring global warming has put us in.

But here in NC, we have a Republican legislature who is convinced that historical models, not scientific projections, be used to determine land use patterns on the coast. Their prime constituents, the one percenters who can afford to build million dollar McMansions on the ocean, will insist the taxpayers pick up the cost of rebuilding their mansions and their beaches every time the storms wash them away. 'Cause that's what "freedom" is all about!

The net result is a catastrophe for every other taxpayer in the state, and every other red-state that elects these kind of people. They never learn, but then, they don't have to. Tribal loyalty trumps common sense, every time.

J said...

Hey, Archie, good to see you again. We haven't been blessed with the presence of your blue Kool-Aid gulping global warming hysteria in a while.

I know you are convinced that the red politicians are physically incapable of making any factually correct statements, and that the blue politicians are physically incapable of making any factually incorrect statements, but the whole "global warming is 100% man-made and is caused only by American Republicans" hysterics are old and stale. There have been periods of warming and cooling for tens of thousands of years. I assume you think the last Ice Age 14,000 years ago was also caused by American Republicans?

Anonymous said...

Gee, Archi,
The article above your comment says that we had a very mild hurricane season. Therefore, you go off about how terrible it was and how we should expect it to be terrible forever and ever more due to the boogeyman of "Global Warming".

The only thing that we're going to have to get used to is the hysteria from people like you that imagine horrors from routine weather.

The cause of Global Warming is money - UN and other government funding, and opportunities to redistribute wealth while skimming off a bunch of it into Al Gore's pocket.

Anonymous said...

Actually, the article says: "There were 19 named storms in the Atlantic and Caribbean in 2012, and that's well above the seasonal average of 12. In fact, 2012 was tied for the fifth-busiest tropical season ever. Interestingly, that total of 19 named storms has been reached five times -- including the past three years, 2010 through 2012."