Friday, October 1, 2010

2010 Atlantic Tropical Update: What Lies Ahead

As mentioned the other day we are well into an above-average Atlantic hurricane season, now recording 14 named storms from Alex to Nicole, and two unnamed tropical depressions. That leaves us with just seven more names available until we would need to cut into the Greek alphabet – which has only been done once in history – in 2005. Given statistical guidance, it could happen again.

According to the National Hurricane Center (NHC), 27.3 percent of all tropical storms and 26.7 percent of all hurricanes since 1851 have formed between today, October 1 and December 31, (despite the seasons official close on November 30), and in fact, October rivals August when it comes to the number of tropical storms that form in waters that are still warm, such as the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea.

In 2005, a season that featured similar favorable tropical development conditions as the 2010 season, nine storms were recorded in October alone, and an additional four storm developed through the turn of the new year (2005– 2006). Even though there are no indications a situation like that would evolve during the next few months, it would not take much – just a gradual storm here and there – to easily advance us through the remainder of the alphabet. But that said, what happened to impact? This season was dubbed the season of impact, not the season of numbers?

It only takes one,
so what imminently lies ahead? The NHC is now tracking a new invest area called 97L which has a 40 percent chance of development over the next couple days. Should it develop it would become Tropical Depression #16 and/or Tropical Storm and/or Hurricane Otto. This is a system that in the near-term the Leeward islands of the Caribbean will want to watch.

Regarding the Gulf of Mexico, this area is blocked for development, at least for now. The Caribbean continues to produce a lot of disorganized convection left behind from Matthew and Nicole, but nothing appears to be boiling into a tropical cyclone (yet).

Now in related news I'd like to provide you a link to NOAA's Historical Hurricane Tracking Tool which allows users to search by U.S. zip code, state or county, storm name or year, or latitude and longitude points to plot some of the greatest storm tracks from year's past. The site includes tropical cyclone data and information on coastal county hurricane strikes through 2009. It also features a searchable database of population changes versus hurricane strikes for U.S. coastal counties from 1900 to 2000 and includes detailed reports on the life history and effects of U.S. tropical cyclones since 1958. Check it out here.

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