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June 01, 2005

Happy Hurricane Season!

Today marks the start of the Atlantic hurricane season! As a quick prelude to the season, I thought I'd share with you a couple things to chew on.

This outlook from NOAA is actually a little bit stronger than last year's forecast. Of course, we all remember what happened last year. I think this year we will like see the numbers fall on the upper end of the NOAA forecast. A more detailed forecast is available from NOAA's Climate Prediction Center. As you can see from the graphic above, NOAA is predicting a 70% chance of above average activity, a 20% chance of near normal, and only a 10% chance of an abnormally quiet tropics. We have noticed an upswing in hurricane activity in recent years. However, we are not sure of the cause. Some suspect that this is due to cycles in the thermohaline ocean currents. A more detailed discussion of this is available from the Independent Weather Information Center. Others, including myself, wonder if this could also due to a recent reduction in so-called "global dimming." (Yes, reducing pollution can cause stronger storms in some cases. Of course, I suspect the global dimming may have led to the death of millions due to shifts in the monsoonal patterns and the resulting drought, but that is a story for another day.) I do not actually think this strong tropical activity is de to global warming. In fact, I think that all we are seeing is a return to normal. Global dimming may have acted to REDUCE hurricanes.

Below you will find a chart of the current sea surface temperature (SST) anomallies. These represent the current department from average of the surface water temperatures. Make note of the abnormally warm water in all of the major cyclogenic areas of the Atlantic. In short, the waters are a lot warmer where tropical systems are typically born. This could directly lead to more numerous and more intense hurricanes this season.

Other charts of sea surface temperatures and related information can be found here from the National Hurricane Center.

Below is a list of storm names for the 2005 season:


Tracking God's Fury:
Tropical Storm Maria
Tropical Storm Nate
Hurricane Ophelia
  • None
  • --
    Ask Bryan:
    What steers hurricanes?
    What is eyewall replacement?
    Jordan Golson
    Bryan Woods