Nearly two weeks ago, a significant typhoon made its way through the Western Pacific as that region undergoes yet another stormy season. On May 19 and 20, 2007, Typhoon Amang, which also went by the international name of Yulu, moved through the Philippine Islands with winds as high as 105 mph and gusts over 125 mph according to news reports from that part of the world. For those who aren’t aware, typhoons are also hurricanes that occur in the Western Pacific region. Last year was a very busy and deadly season in the Western Pacific as a result of the warmer than normal ocean temperatures due to El Nino.
Meanwhile, in the latest news out of the Far East, a Japanese government report indicated that nearly one million homes in the Tokyo metropolitan area would be flooded if the region receives 20 percent more rainfall than it did from Typhoon Kathleen in 1947, which is still the largest typhoon to strike there since World War II. Nearby in China, officials warned the public that portions country could be hit with weather disasters ranging from Northern China to the Western provinces of Xinjiang and Gansu along with neighboring Inner Mongolia are expected to have sandstorms over the next three days. And that warning didn’t include the possible threat from typhoons this season.
In 2006, there were a number of deadly and devastating storms in the Western Pacific including: Typhoon Chanchu, which was a typhoon that formed 40 days earlier than usuaal, and killed some 294 people in the Phillipines, Southern China, and Southeast Asia (including 276 in Vietnam), and Typhoon Bilis, which was the longest lasting storm on record. The development of these storms in the wake of the 2005 Atlantic Hurricane Season, and rising concerns over global warming as well as the deadly tsunami that hit Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives in the Indian Ocean, increased calls to speed up disaster plans throughout the region.
Approximately eighteen hours later, at 5:00 PM EDT on May 29, 2007, the second named storm of the season began to develop as a depression, and later became Tropical Storm Barbara. While initial forecasts indicated Barbara had an opportunity to become a hurricane as late as today, the storm has weakened, and is now unlikely to strengthen into the year’s first hurricane in either the Atlantic or Eastern Pacific basins. Barbara, which became a named storm at 11:00 AM on May 30, 2007, peaked at only a slightly stronger intensity than Alvin with winds at 45 mph, and gusts to 55 mph while minimum central pressure dipped to 1002 mb, or 29.59 inches of Hg at 5:00 AM EDT on May 31, 2007. While both storms have been very mild, their formations demonstrate that the EPAC is off to a very quick start with two tropical cyclones in just the first sixteen days of the new season.
Earlier this month, Hurricaneville indicated that last year’s hurricane season in the Eastern Pacific was the most active since 1997. Both 1997 and 2007 were El Nino years, which explained the tremendous activity in the region. Simultaneously, both those seasons were below normal in an Atlantic Basin that has been experiencing an unprecedented era of activity since 1995. Due to the dissipation of the latest El Nino earlier this year, and the potential emergence of a La Nina event during this year, forecasts called for much lower activity in the Eastern Pacific in 2007. Meanwhile, those two factors have also convinced forecasters to project a very busy Atlantic Hurricane Season with 17 named storms, 9 hurricanes, and 5 major hurricanes. To review, El Nino is a global climate phenomenon that occurs when sea surface temperatures are above normal in the Pacific Ocean, and is usually responsible for above average hurricane activity in the Eastern Pacific, and below average activity in the Atlantic. Conversely, La Nina occurs when sea surface temperatures in the Pacific are below normal, and causes below average activity in the EPAC, and above average activity in the Atlantic.
One of the books I acquired after getting my new library card was historian Douglas Brinkley’s The Great Deluge: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Brinkley, who has recently written a book on President Reagan, currently serves as director of the Theodore Roosevelt Center for American Civilization and Professor of History at Tulane University, which is located in New Orleans. After that, I traveled to the town’s Office of Emergency Management, and picked up some literature on how to get prepared for hurricane season including information on how to take care of your pets, have a disaster plan, how to clean up after a flood, and storm safety tips. I hope to post this on the web site soon, and include it as part of the Hurricane Safety Tips and Downloads section.
Finally, I went to the local drugstore, and purchased a First Aid Kit. So, as you can see, even though I haven’t been online with new content, I’ve been still very immersed in the aspects of getting ready for this hurricane season. If you would like to get started yourself on the season, download the Hurricaneville Survival Kit.
Good afternoon everyone. Sorry that I’ve been away, but I’ve been busy with personal things that needed to be taken care of, working overtime at my job, and of course, the Memorial Day Holiday. Anyway, for those who aren’t aware and not on the Hurricaneville Mailing List, Jim Williams and his web site, Hurricane City, along with his Weather Audio Broadcast Network (WABN), are going to have its annual kickoff broadcast for the upcoming hurricane season on Friday, June 1st at 8:00 PM EDT. Prior to the start of the show, Hurricane City will stream footage from NOAA’s 50 years of hurricane research starting at 7:00 PM EDT.
Good morning everyone. I have just posted a better copy of the video I have streaming on the web site of the severe weather that moved through New Jersey on May 16th. The user video section of the Weather Channel web site will be another location, where I will place my videos especially if I can’t post them to YouTube.com. View it now at Weather.com.
Good afternoon everyone. I’ve finally been able to post online the live video footage of the severe weather from May 16, 2007. I was unable to post the video on YouTube.com due to the fact that there are size and duration constraints there. This video is twelve minutes long, and YouTube only allows video that are no more than ten minutes in length. As a result, I had to convert the video to a Real Media format, which can be streamed to a Real One Media Player.
To video the streaming video, click on this link. If you haven’t already, you can view timelapse video of the stormy weather from May 16, 2007 as well by going to YouTube.com. Hopefully, I will be able to post the non-streaming version of the video at the User Video page on The Weather Channel web site. In the meantime, enjoy.
Good afternoon everyone. Well, just as the hurricane season is about to begin, NOAA appears to be in more and more disarray. Recently, I had posted an entry to the blog concerning financial problems at the National Hurricane Center that have developed over recent years as a result of inflation and budget cuts. The financial situation has become so dire at the hurricane center that a key satellite called QuickSCAT may not be operational since it is in desperate need of repair.
Well, by following the news articles over the past several weeks, I read several that were tied to this issue of funding for the NHC. The first article appeared back on May 3rd in the Naples News out of Southwest Florida. It basically indicated that the National Hurricane Center Director, Bill Proenza stated that without the critical QuickSCAT satellite, hurricane forecast track for this year’s set of storms could be off by 16 percent. Forecasting the hurricane’s track is a very important, and the most accurate piece of information the tropical meteorologist has at this time. Predictions of hurricane intensity are not as reliable since there is still much to learn about what goes on inside these monster storms although new discoveries have been made recently that may help improve future forecasts of storm strength.
A little less than two weeks later, Congress became concerned about the issue of the predicament of the QuickSCAT Satellite. On May 13th, in an article reported from United Press International, the House Energy and Environment Subcommittee led by Texas Congressman, Nick Lampson, a Democrat from the 22nd district of the Lone Star State, called on top officials from both NOAA and NASA to get together and find an alternative way to get the critical data that the QuickSCAT satellite produces in case the tool does actually fail. Lampson actually wrote a letter to both the administrator of NASA, Dr. Michael Griffin, and NOAA undersecretary, Vice Admiral Conrad Lautenbacher. According to the article, a joint statement by the committee stated that, “”The QuikSCAT satellite, which tracks wind data at the ocean surface, is a NASA research mission which is producing data that NOAA finds valuable for improving predictions on the movement of hurricanes and the point of landfall.” The moral of the story here is that the two agencies, NASA and NOAA need to work together on issues of climate and weather. Both agencies have been working in isolation from one another, and going down parallel paths on important research.
It didn’t stop there as the heat ratcheted up another notch this past week as Proenza, who replaced Max Mayfield as the new director of the NHC in January, went on the war path by attacking NOAA for misusing money budgeted to the agency by allocating it for such things as “image building campaigns” at the same time “frontline forecasters wrestle with budget shortfalls” according to a story published in the San Diego Union-Tribune on May 17, 2007. Proenza detailed on how NOAA is spending $4 million to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the organization, and how that “is part of a broader campaign to publicize NOAA and its leaders.” The new NHC director and other critics also charge that this marketing effort is also undermining the two most important facets of the organization, the National Weather Service, and the NHC. In the wake of these criticisms, NOAA announced the resignation of two high ranking officials in the organization on May 19th. According to an article on Yahoo, and courtesy of the Associated Press, the head of the National Weather Service, and his deputy announced that they will retire in June 2007. NWS Director, David Johnson, and his deputy John Jones, made their intentions known in an internal memo. However, there was no mention of the criticisms brought up by Proenza, or any indication that the resignations were in any way related to the controversy.
I have to say that I have learned a great deal about what has been going on at NOAA over the past month thanks to these articles. Not only has the NHC been hamstrung by lack of money in the federal budget, but the money they are supposed to get is being squandered on public relations campaigns. It’s nice to see Bill Proenza going to battle for his team, and that will benefit all coastal residents from Maine to Texas as well as the Caribbean in the long run.
Good morning everyone. Sorry that I haven’t posted anything in the past few days, but I was busy with graduation from Rutgers University. Well, anyway, I did happen to get some more timelapse video from the GWC Web Cam. This latest timelapse footage is from the strong line of thunderstorms that passed through Northern Middlesex County as well as the rest of New Jersey on Wednesday, May 16, 2007. Like many of my other recent videos, I’ve posted it to YouTube.com for you to look at. Enjoy.
Last year, the activity was in the Eastern Pacific. Although predictions for a busy year had been projected for the North Atlantic basin, an El Nino episode emerged during the middle of the season that helped keep storm and hurricane totals down. However, that same ENSO development was responsible for a very active year in the EPAC with a total of 21 depressions forming, and 18 of them becoming named storms with ten of those maturing into hurricanes. Of the double digit number of hurricanes to emerge in the region, five of them became major or intense hurricanes with winds of Category Three strength or better on the Saffir-Simpson Scale.
What to expect this year? Conditions should be at or below normal this season. Reason for that is the fact that the El Nino responsible for the hectic activity in 2006 has dissipated, and there has been recent discussions of the development of a La Nina episode in the Pacific. During an El Nino, sea surface temperatures are above normal while they are below normal in La Nina. In order to have tropical formation, sea surface, or ocean temperatures must be at least 80 degrees or better. So, the Atlantic will be busy while the Eastern Pacific will not. Wondering why the Eastern Pacific Hurricane Season starts on May 15th while the Atlantic starts on June 1st? The EPAC season starts earlier since the rainy seasons in places such as Mexico begin sooner, and thunderstorms have a better chance of developing into something more tropical in nature earlier in the Pacific.
After dealing with a strong Nor’easter and heavy rains for the last two weeks of April, New Jersey has dried out quite rapidly in May. After having 0.86 inches of rain in the first day and a half of the month, Northwestern Middlesex County has received just a total of 0.69 inches over the last two weeks. Ten of the last fourteen days have had no measureable rain whatsoever while temperatures have steadily risen.
On Monday, winds picked up significantly during the morning and temperatures topped out in the low to mid 80s while conditions remained dry. Those conditions continued into much of Tuesday before a line of strong to severe thunderstorms moved across the Garden State. Consequently, things were ripe for a major fire to break out, and it did in Southern New Jersey. A flare from an F-16 fighter jet that was performing a manuver over a nearby gunnery range, was responsible for producing a severe brush fire that quickly scorched some 12,000 acres, or 19 miles of land in a region of the Pinelands along the border of Burlington and Ocean Counties according to a report in the Newark Star-Ledger.
The fire grew rapidly thanks to the dry conditions and gusty winds, and forced the evacuation of some two thousand homes in nearby Stafford Township. The area of concern is located some 25 miles to the North of Atlantic City, and at the Southeastern edge of the over one million acre Pinelands preserve. Despite the difficulties, local high schools such as Barnegat and Southern Regional were opened as of the time of the report while the Parkway was still in operation. Fire Departments from many municipalities in New Jersey including those in Ocean County, Cape May County, and even as far away as Sussex and Warren Counties are working to get the fire under control. New Jersey is not the only state in the country presently dealing with brush fires. Florida, Georgia, and California have also been coping with their share of fire troubles as well.