09.28.06

Brief Lull In Activity Ends As Isaac Forms In Central Atlantic

Posted in Commentary, General, Storm Track at 1:12 pm by gmachos

My last post to the Hurricaneville Blogosphere mentioned that there was a period of peace and tranquility following the demise of Hurricane Helene in the Central Atlantic. Well, that period only lasted for three days. On late Wednesday afternoon, the ninth depression of the season formed in the waters of the Central Atlantic. Then, this morning the depression, which was already close to storm strength, became the ninth named storm of the season, Isaac.

Isaac is just a minimal tropical storm with sustained winds of 40 mph, and a minimum central pressure of 1008 mb, or 29.77 inches of Hg. Its circulation is quite disorganized, and will have a very difficult time getting much stronger despite being forecast to intensify to have 50 knot, or 60 mph winds before becoming extratropical in three to four days. A cold front, which recently departed from the East Coast of the United States is serving as a mechanism that will help curve Isaac out to sea, and prevent it from strengthening into a hurricane. So this storm is just another in a recent series of storms to basically be a threat for the fishing and shipping interests in the Atlantic.

To date, the 2006 Atlantic Hurricane Season has had five of its nine named storms follow this similar track in the Central Atlantic: Debby, Florence, Gordon, Helene, and now Isaac. Only Florence and Gordon came closest to making direct hits on land as Flo moved just to the west of Bermuda while Gordon passed south of the Azores. While the storms have been either merciful or directed away from land, there still has been a bit of activity in the tropics the past six weeks or so. Since August 20th, there have been six named storms, four hurricanes, and two major hurricanes in the Atlantic Basin.

Overall, the 2006 season creeps closer to the fifty year average with nine named storms, four hurricanes, and two major hurricanes. With still a bit more than two months to go, it is very likely that this season will hit the fifty year average in terms of named storms. It is also quite possible that this season could equal the average for hurricanes. So despite the development of a new El Nino cycle, we could still have our eleventh season in the past twelve years with double digit named storms. No other period since records began being kept in 1851 has come close to matching this level of activity. Several periods are worth mentioning, but they still pale in comparison to the prolific activity set during this present era. From 1932 to 1936, four out of those five seasons had ten or more named storms. The same occurred four straight years from 1942 to 1945 while the most active period before this latest cycle was from 1949 to 1955.

During those seven years, six seasons had ten or more named storms. That period ironically was a memorable period for landfalling hurricanes in the United States. During that era there were such storms as Dog (1950), Easy (1950), King (1950), Carol (1954), Edna (1954), Hazel (1954), Connie (1955), Diane (1955), and Ione (1955). The seasons 1954 and 1955 in a sense rivaled that of 2004 and 2005 since those two seasons in the mid 1950s captured the country’s attention, especially the media and politicians much like the last two seasons have with Charley, Frances, Ivan, Jeanne, Katrina, Rita, and Wilma. As a matter of fact, following the 1955 Hurricane Season, President Eisenhower created a special commission to investigate what had been happening with the weather, and the findings of that commission eventually led to more funding for hurricane research and such efforts as Project Stormfury. Today, similar calls for more research are being made. Keep in mind also that this latest cycle has occurred during an era in which forecasters have more sophisticated technology to work with and detect and track such storms.

Another thing to note about the 2006 Atlantic Hurricane Season is that, we have had all nine depressions that formed this year eventually evolve into tropical storms. Last year, thirty-one depressions formed and twenty-eight of them went on to become storms in the busiest season ever. Back in 1995, the last really hectic season in the Atlantic, there were 21 depressions, and 19 of those went on to become at least tropical storms. The last two seasons to have each of its depressions go on to become at least named storms were 1996 (13 depressions and 13 storms) and 1998 (14 depressions and 14 storms).

1 Comment

  1. Hurricaneville Blogosphere » Isaac Grows Into Bigger Problem Than Originally Thought said,

    October 1, 2006 at 7:40 pm

    […] Consequently, I wasn’t able to update the site until late Sunday afternoon although I had been following some of what was going on with Isaac through television and the web. I have to admit that I was quite surprised by the fact that this storm was able to blossom into a hurricane. Its close proximity to a front and its feeble state early on made it seem to me that this storm was going to have a tough time to say the least. […]