NOAA, Colorado State, And WSI Seasonal Prognostications All Point To Above Average Year
As we get ready to enjoy the first taste of summer with the arrival of the Memorial Day Weekend across the United States coastline from Maine to Texas, it is time to start getting ready for the 2011 Atlantic Hurricane Season, which gets underway on Wednesday, June 1st.
There has been a bit of stirring in the Atlantic over the past month or so with a couple of disturbances that had chances to become at least a subtropical system of some kind, but they didn’t get any farther than that. However, those tropical developments may be a sign of things to come.
Since 1995, the Atlantic Basin has experienced a ton of activity with an average of 15 named storms, 8 hurricanes, and 4 major hurricanes from 1995 to 2010. After a somewhat quiet year in 2009, the Atlantic roared back in 2010 with 21 depressions, 19 named storms, 12 hurricanes, and 5 major hurricanes including four of Category Four intensity on the Saffir-Simpson Scale.
Three notable Atlantic Hurricane season forecasts have been issued since the beginning of April, and they are all calling for above average activity. WSI is calling for 15 named storms, 8 hurricanes, and 4 major hurricanes in 2011 while Colorado State is expecting 16 named storms, 9 hurricanes, and 5 major hurricanes, and NOAA is calling for 12 to 18 named storms, 6 to 10 hurricanes, and 3 to 6 major hurricanes. Remember, major hurricanes are tropical cyclones with winds of at least 111 miles per hour, or Category Three strength.
Hurricaneville is no expert in making these kinds of long range prognostications. However, there is a La Nina pattern that is currently in control over the Eastern Pacific, and that is usually a good sign in terms of Atlantic development, because cooler waters in that part of the world prevents tropical storm and hurricane development. Consequently, there is not as much shower or thunderstorm activity that moves across Mexico into the Atlantic Basin, and creates a shearing environment at the upper levels in the Atlantic.
Without wind shear, tropical storms and hurricanes can flourish. However, there are indications that the La Nina pattern in the Pacific is beginning to wane. In addition, sea surface temperatures in the Tropical Atlantic have been cooler than normal thanks in part to weather patterns in the North Atlantic. The possible combination of more wind shear and cooler ocean temperatures in the Atlantic could lead to less activity in the Atlantic.
There is some debate in the forecasting community on whether or not the seasonal forecasts are a good tool. While they may be good in getting the word out that hurricane season is coming, and that it is time to prepare if you live at or near the coastline, they may also be crying wolf. After the 2005 season, there were indications that conditions would be active in 2006 and 2007. In 2006, these forecasts were off the mark as the season was below average while in 2007 there was above average activity, but nothing in the way of landfalling hurricanes in the United States. However, the panic and false alarm that they caused along the East Coast was not good for businesses.
Last year was a very active season, but there wasn’t much in the way of coastal impacts. Hurricane Earl came very close to the East Coast of the United States, and created a great deal of wave activity in places such as the Jersey Shore and Long Island, but it never made landfall in those places. On the other hand, 1992 was not so active a season, but wound up being one of the most memorable of all, especially for those in South Florida since Hurricane Andrew, a monster Category Five Hurricane came ashore there causing $27 billion in damage. The 2005 season with the likes of hurricanes Dennis, Emily, Katrina, Rita, and Wilma was the exception where the bite lived up to the bark.
Stu Ostro of the Weather Channel has been cynical about the usefulness of these seasonal forecasts as are current and former TWC hurricane experts, Dr. Rick Knabb and Dr. Steve Lyons. All three point out that numbers don’t matter. These forecasts just point out activity, they do not indicate where these storms will end up if they do make landfall, or how strong they will be when they do hit land. I have grown to the same belief.
Don’t get me wrong. I was always fascinated on how Dr. Gray put together his seasonal forecasts. I used to receive them in the mail before the advent of the Internet. I still believe that they are helpful in the sense that they tell you that Hurricane Season is coming, and to get prepared. However, they can be misleading, and either put people in a false sense of security, or a great deal of panic. All you need is one landfalling hurricane of anywhere from Category Two to Category Five strength depending on your location along the coast, and you have a season that you’ll will want to forget for the rest of your life.
Storms Set Off Watches And Warnings For Parts Of Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland, Vermont, and Virginia
Severe weather made headlines for the sixth straight day as we entered the Memorial Day Holiday Weekend. There is a number of severe weather watches and warnings in effect across much of the Eastern United States from New England to the Mid-Atlantic.
There are two Severe Thunderstorm Warnings in effect throughout parts of the Mid-Atlantic region. The first one is in South Central and Central Pennsylvania including the counties of Dauphin, Juniata, Mifflin, Perry, Snyder, Union, and Northumberland. The other is in effect for portions of North Central Maryland, Central Maryland, Northern Virginia, and the Panhandle region of West Virginia. Counties affected include: Frederick, Washington, and Montgomery counties in Maryland, Loudoun and Fairfax counties in Virgina, and Jefferson and Berkeley counties in West Virginia.
In addition, a Severe Weather Statement has been issued for parts of Maryland from Williamsport and Braddock Heights to Boyds. Effects from the severe storms could include quarter size hail and winds in upwards of 60 to 70 miles per hour. No tornado watches or warnings have been issued. Many of these areas were hit by severe weather yesterday. Some of that energy could slide into Western portions of New Jersey later on Friday night much like it did on Thursday.
There are also severe thunderstorm watches out for portions of Southeastern New York including Sullivan County as well as eleven counties in Central New York, and seven counties in Northeast Pennsylvania. Large hail and damaging winds could be expected in those storms as well.
Heading into New England, there are Severe Thunderstorm Warnings as well as Flash Flood Warnings out in areas of Vermont. It has been the second straight day of severe weather and flooding in Upstate New York and Vermont.
Good afternoon again. Earlier today, the Weather Channel indicated that there could be some severe weather in portions of the Garden State on Friday. A storm system is moving gradually eastward and has generated a number of severe weather watches and warnings including a Tornado Watch covering some 26 counties in Pennsylvania.
Weatherscan indicates that there will only be partly cloudy skies tonight in Newark while a chance for a stray thunderstorm on Friday. However, the farther west you go in the Garden State, the chances become greater. The forecast for Somerville, which is probably a good 12 miles west of South Plainfield, has a 20 percent chance of thunderstorms on Friday with temperatures peaking in the upper 80s. Whitehouse Station in Hunterdon County has the same probability.
Further west in Hunterdon County, the chance for thunderstorms increases to 30 percent at Clinton. The last exit on Interstate 78 West heading into Pennsylvania, Alpha, has a 30 percent chance as well. The tiny enclave in West Jersey also has a 20 percent chance of storms today. The National Weather Service office in Mount Holly, New Jersey issued a Hazardous Weather Outlook for Alpha as well as portions of West Jersey.
There is a chance for some of these thunderstorms to produce strong gusty winds and hail. Right now, much of the action is in Pennsylvania. Showers and storms are streaming up from Southwest to Northeast over the Keystone State this afternoon. Some of that activity could push further east into portions of West Jersey late in the afternoon today and tomorrow.
Good afternoon everyone. I have some disappointing news to report. The temperature/humidity sensor on my weather station has gone bad, and I will not be able to post live updates to the web site on weather conditions in South Plainfield, New Jersey. I’m in the process of looking for a new sensor, but I learned yesterday that Davis has discontinued the item. I may have to get a whole new weather station, but it may be a good thing. I will still try to post updates to the journal as well as issue reports to WEATHERFUN. I’ll try to keep you posted on any new developments.
Over 900 Reports Of Severe Weather Throughout the United States On Wednesday
It has been a week that has seen the return of severe weather. Severe thunderstorms that have generated hail, high winds, and tornadoes have ravaged much of the country since last Saturday. Yesterday, mother nature continued to rage with over 900 reports of either hail, high winds, or tornadoes. There were a total of 81 tornadoes reported across 11 different states.
Some of the most noteworthy tornadoes were in Smithville, Tennessee, Bedford, Indiana, Sedalia, Missouri, and even several in Butte county, California. More heavy rain as well as some hail struck flood weary Memphis. According to the Weather Channel, May 25th was the second most active severe weather day so far this year behind the 1,476 reports on April 4th. Of the 956 total storm reports on Wednesday courtesy of the Storm Prediction Center, 394 of them were for hail including 49 cases of large hail while there were 480 wind reports including 11 cases of high winds.
So far this season, we have had 1,212 twisters in 2011. The average number of tornadoes over the past ten years is 1,293. The most tornadoes in a year was 1,819 in 2003. After a slow start this month, May 2011 now has had 295 twisters, which is just three shy of the ten year average for the month. The most tornadoes in the month of May was 542 back in 2003. More alarming is the number of deaths from tornadoes. So far in 2011, there have been 508 as of Thursday morning. The most ever was 794 in 1925, which was the year of the deadly Tri-State Tornado.
More rough weather is on tap today. Severe weather can be expected over a vast expanse of the United States from New York and Vermont to Texas. High pressure will help New Jersey avoid getting any severe thunderstorms or tornadoes. Philadelphia, however, may be in the crosshairs for severe weather. A Severe Thunderstorm Watch has been issued for a wide area of the Tennessee Valley today including Northern Alabama, Northwestern Georgia, Eastern Tennesse, and Western North Carolina. Meanwhile, a Tornado Watch is in effect for extreme Northern New York, and much of Vermont.
Since May 21st, there have been 200 reports of tornadoes in the United States, which is over two thirds of all such reports so far this month. An update on the Joplin Tornado. The death toll has risen some more to 125 dead from Sunday night’s EF5 twister. Up to 900 more people have been injured while 232 remain missing. There have been some successes though as rescue crews have found 17 people.
Missouri Tornado Is The Latest In Litany Of Severe Weather Stories This Spring
After what had been an usually above average April in terms of severe weather, May had been surprisingly dormant. Stagnant weather patterns in the east were a result of a jet stream that had lost its punch. However, over the past four days, the severe weather season has enjoyed a resurgence much to the dismay of residents in the Great Plains.
Since May 21st, there have been 118 tornadoes throughout the United States, which is more than double what had occurred previously this month. One twister on Sunday night in particular has captured the attention of the entire country. It was a now EF5 tornado with over 200 mile per hour winds that roared through the town of Joplin, Missouri, which was made famous in Nat King Cole’s song, Route 66. The storm was three quarters of a mile wide, and tore a path that was six miles long, and a mile and a half wide.
Two thousand buildings were destroyed by the tornado. Neighborhoods flattened. The images of damaged cars brought back memories of the destruction caused by Hurricane Andrew in August 1992. It is the deadliest tornado since records started being kept by NOAA in 1950. One hundred twenty-two people have died in this storm so far with another 1,500 or so people missing. For a town of approximately 50,000 people, it has been a tough blow.
To make matters worse, there were more severe thunderstorms with gusty winds, rain, and dangerous lightning on Monday, and now a Tornado Watch in effect through early Wednesday morning. With today’s tornadoes in Oklahoma, there have been 51 deadly tornadoes in the United States this season, which is far more than the average. After the severe weather outbreak in the South on April 27th, many were wondering what could top the devastation scene in places like Tuscaloosa, Alabama and Smithville, Mississippi.
Much of the month of May has been dominated by the Mississippi Flood of 2011, which brought record crests to Memphis as well as Vicksburg and Natchez in Mississippi. However, the events in Joplin over the past several days as well as more severe weather in the nation’s heartland on Tuesday, has brought back the focus on severe thunderstorms and tornadoes. It has been a rough spring. Between the flooding and tornado outbreaks, the country is reeling.
Four Deaths Confirmed From Twisters In Oklahoma; Joplin Under The Gun Again As Watch Issued
Severe weather season continues to go through a resurgence this week as another deadly and devastating outbreak is taking place in the Plains. I have been watching the storm chaser footage on the The Weather Channel as well as MSNBC, FOX, and CNN throughout much of the afternoon, and it has been riveting.
One scene out of Oklahoma near the town of El Reno had a utility pole literally fly over a storm chaser’s car while he is live on the air with KFOR TV in Oklahoma City. It seemed to be out of the movie Twister. Towns such as El Reno, Guthrie, Chickasaw, and Goldsby have been hit hard by wedge tornadoes that were at least EF4 in strength. So far, there are four confirmed deaths according to the Medical Examiner’s office in Oklahoma City. Three children are missing as well.
The Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma indicated earlier in the day that much of Oklahoma as well as portions of Northern Texas were under a Particularly Dangerous Situation Tornado Watch. There is still such a watch out for Central and Eastern Oklahoma as well as North Central Texas. On top of the twisters in Oklahoma, there have been supercell thunderstorms in Texas creating softball size hail.
Another PDS Tornado Watch is in effect for portions of South Central and Southeastern Kansas. Within the past hour, a Tornado Watch was also issued for Western Missouri including Kansas City and the beleaguered town of Joplin, which was devastated by a wedge tornado earlier this week. The watch is in effect until 3:00 AM CDT Wednesday morning. In the latest severe weather outlook by the SPC, they feared a significant tornado outbreak in the Southern and Central Plains as well as the Ozarks.
The outlook indicated the possibility of several significant tornadoes as well as large hail and damaging winds in these areas. Since May 21st, there have been 118 reports of tornadoes throughout the United States, which is more than double what had been the total for the entire month of May. There were 22 twisters on Saturday, 56 on Sunday, 20 on Monday, and 20 so far on Tuesday. There is a threat for more severe weather on Wednesday in the Ohio and Tennessee Valleys.
Good evening everyone. Well, so much for the severe weather threat. What seemed to be shaping up as a day for severe storms in the Garden State didn’t pan out. Despite the extremely warm temperatures, sunlight, and moisture in the atmosphere during the peak heating of the day, the dynamics weren’t there for any severe thunderstorms to develop unless you were in parts of Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, and Ocean counties late this afternoon.
Much of the heavy weather stayed well to the south in Virginia and North Carolina. Some of the severe thunderstorms down there even produced some tornadoes. There have been some scattered showers and thunderstorms in Northeastern Pennsylvania, and Southeastern New York, but nothing organized in our neck of the woods. There are still more organized clusters of showers and storms in Central and Western Pennsylvania, but it is becoming less likely that they will affect our area.
One thing is for sure from today’s weather, and that is the warm weather may be finally here to stay. Throughout the day, I had been monitoring the Weather Channel and Weatherscan, and I noticed how the high temperatures forecasted for the rest of the week have been gradually going up. It wasn’t as enthusiastic over the weekend or on Monday. Now, we are looking at the 80s for the rest of the week with very nice weather tomorrow and Thursday. Next chance for storms is on Friday.
There is still severe weather to talk about tonight. Another tornado outbreak is taking place in the Southern Plains. Several wedge tornadoes developed late this afternoon in Oklahoma, and have left several people dead. In addition, the bad weather may be headed in the direction of Joplin, Missouri, which has already dealt with a deadly and devastating tornado earlier this week.
Good afternoon everyone. Well, storms are starting to fire up across parts of the Garden State. After temperatures rocketed well into the 80s around the state, storms are moving in from the west. A cold front is making its approach to the area, so this could be the first in a number of watches and warnings for the area.
The National Weather Service office in Mount Holly, New Jersey issued a Severe Thunderstorm Warning for portions of South Jersey including North Central Atlantic County, Southern Burlington County, East Central Camden County, and Central Ocean County until about 5:30 PM EDT. This severe thunderstorm has had a history of producing quarter size hail and 60 mile per hour winds was racing across Camden County at about 35 miles per hour.
For those in the path of this storm, you should be on the lookout for high winds, damaging hail, and dangerous cloud to ground lightning. Located near Shamong some 25 miles Southeast of Camden, the storm is expected to affect the following locales: Chatsworth, Presidential Lakes, Old Halfway, Cedar Glen Lakes, Brookville, Whiting, Crestwood Village, Bamber Lake, Pine Ridge at Crestwood, Holiday City, Silver Ridge, Leisure Village, West Pine Lake Park, Holiday Heights, and Holiday City South.
Good afternoon again. We could be seeing some severe weather on tap around the Garden State today. On Monday night, we got a small taste of what could come when strong to severe storms rolled through during the overnight. Earlier in the evening, a twister touched down near Allentown, Pennsylvania, and a tornado warning had been issued for portions of Warren and Hunterdon counties.
We had to fight through some dense fog and low clouds this morning, but the sun emerged with some vigor as the mercury climbed to 90.9 degrees here in Northwestern Middlesex County late Tuesday morning. Dew points rose well into the 70s, and maxed out at 80 degrees this morning. So, there is plenty of light, heat, and moisture. The question is there going to be enough lifting and upper level winds to support a severe weather outbreak here in New Jersey this afternoon into this evening.
The dramatic rise in temperature today was a bit surprising. The forecasts that I had seen over the past couple days, and even earlier today was that it would get into the low 80s. The mercury has not climbed to far beyond the upper 70s this morning. Compared to last year, when we had 80 degree plus weather about 10 times by this point in the month of May, the temperatures have been below par. The National Weather Service office in Mount Holly, New Jersey issued a hazardous weather outlook for this afternoon indicating the chance of severe thunderstorms with hail and gusty winds.
There is already a Severe Thunderstorm Watch in effect for southern portions of the Mid-Atlantic including Maryland, Northern Virginia, and the Delmarva Peninsula. We have a cold front that will be approaching from the west this afternoon. This was part of the storm system that caused the devastating EF4 tornado in Joplin, Missouri. The timing of this front should be the late afternoon into the early evening. So, by then, we will have had the maximum heating of the day. With the sun coming out to provide a spark, the warm moist air already in place thanks to the warm front that came through overnight, there are ingredients for severe weather.
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