Intense heat wave bakes the Eastern U.S.

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 15:27:GMT den 22. juli 2011

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Intense heat seared large sections of the U.S. on Thursday, with dozens of new daily high temperature records adding to the formidable number of new records piling up this week. On Wednesday, 140 daily maximum temperature records were tied or broken, according to NOAA's National Climatic Data Center. This represents over 2.4% of all stations in the U.S., which is an exceptionally high number of records for one day. Over the past 30 days, daily high temperature records have outpaced low temperature records by more than 4 to 1, 1859 to 453, and by almost three to one over the past year. Daily high temperature records set yesterday included 100° at Detroit, the first time in sixteen years that city has seen the century mark. Two hyperthermia deaths were reported in the Detroit area, bringing the heat wave death toll for the U.S. to 24 for the week. Newark, NJ hit 103°, just 2° below that city's all-time record hottest temperature of 105°. That record may be challenged today, as the temperature in Newark at 11am was already 100°. Other notable temperatures yesterday included 101° in Syracuse, NY, only 1° below that city's all-time high of 102°; 95° in Binghamton, NY, 3° below their all-time high; 102° in Toledo, 3° below their all-time high; 102° in Raleigh, 3° below that city's all-time high of 105°. Accompanying the heat was high levels of air pollution, which also contributes to mortality. Air pollution reached code red, "Unhealthy", in Gary Indiana yesterday, and was code orange, "Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups" in thirteen other states.

The blast furnace-like conditions will continue today across much of New England and the mid-Atlantic, where high temperatures are expected to climb above 100° in Washington D.C., Baltimore, and New York City. Air pollution is expected to exceed federal standards and reach code orange, "Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups", in at least 18 states today, according to the latest forecasts from EPA. The pollution will be worst in Washington D.C. and Baltimore, where "code red" conditions--"Unhealthy"--are expected. The heat will continue in the mid-Atlantic states through Sunday, then ease on Monday when a cold front is expected to move through.


Figure 1. July temperatures in the lower 48 states between 1895 - 2010 showed a warming of about 1.2°F (red line) during that time period. The warmest July on record was 1936, with an average temperature of 3.1°F above average. The year 2006 was a close second, just 0.1°F behind. If model projections of an increase in U.S. temperature of 4 - 6.5°F by 2100 are correct, an average July in 2050 will have temperatures warmer than the record warm temperatures of 1936. Image credit: NOAA/NCDC.

The summer of 2011's place in history
July 2011 is on pace to be one of the five hottest months in U.S. history, but may have a tough time surpassing the hottest month of all time, July 1936. In that year, the dry soils of the Midwest's Dust Bowl helped create the most extreme heat wave in U.S. history during July. Wunderground's weather historian, Christopher C. Burt, has a look back at this great heat wave in his current post. I expect that by the time July 2011 is done, it will be a top-five warmest July on record, but will not surpass July of 1936 or July of 2006 (which holds second place, just 0.1° cooler than July 1936.) The summer of 1936 was also the hottest summer in U.S. history. That mark will also be tough to surpass this year, since June 2011 was the 26th warmest June on record, and June 1936 was the 11th warmest. August 1936 was the 4th warmest August on record. At this point, there's no telling how warm August 2011 will be, though NOAA's Climate Prediction Center is forecasting a much above average chance of warmer than average conditions over 95% of the contiguous U.S for the first week of August.


Figure 2. The 8 - 14 day outlook from NOAA's Climate Prediction Center predicts much above average chances of warmer than normal temperatures during the last few days of July and the first four days of August.

Climate change and U.S. heat waves
The heat index--how hot the air feels when factoring in both the temperature and the humidity--has been exceptionally high during this week's heat wave, due to the presence of very high amounts of water vapor in the atmosphere. That has made this heat wave a very dangerous one, since the body is much less able to cool itself when the humidity is high. The high humidities in the Midwest were due, in great part, to the record rains and flooding over the past few months that have saturated soils and left farmlands flooded. Today's extreme heat index values over the mid-Altantic are due, in large part, to near record warm ocean temperatures off the mid-Atlantic coast. According to the UK's HADSST2 data set, sea surface temperatures between 35° - 40°N and 75 ° - 70°W, along the coast from North Carolina to New Jersey, were 5.4°F (3.0°C) above average during June 2011. This is the warmest such temperature difference for any month in the historical record, going back to the 1800s. The most recent sea surface temperature anomaly maps from NOAA show that the July ocean temperatures have not been quite as extreme, but ocean temperatures in this region during July have averaged nearly 2°C above average, the second highest July ocean temperatures on record, behind 2010.

During the 1930s, there was a high frequency of heat waves due to high daytime temperatures resulting in large part from an extended multi-year period of intense drought. By contrast, in the past 3 to 4 decades, there has been an increasing trend in high-humidity heat waves, which are characterized by the persistence of extremely high nighttime temperatures. In particular, Gaffen and Ross (1999) found that summer nighttime moisture levels increased by 2 - 4% per decade for every region of the contiguous U.S. between 1961 - 1995. Hot and humid conditions at night for a multi-day period are highly correlated with heat stress mortality during heat waves.

Not surprisingly, the frequency, intensity, and humidity of heat waves is expected to increase dramatically in coming decades, if the forecasts of a warmer world due to global warming come true. A study presented in the U.S. Global Change Program Impacts Report, 2009, predicted that by 2080 - 2099, a heat wave that has a 1-in-20 chance of occurring in today's climate will occur every 2 - 3 years over 95% of the contiguous U.S. (Figure 3.) I estimate that this week's U.S. heat wave has been a 1-in-5 to 1-in-20 year event for most locations affected, so heat waves like this week's will be a routine occurrence, nearly every year, by the end of the century. According to a study published by scientists at Stanford University last month, though, this may be too optimistic. In their press release, lead author Noah Diffenbaugh said, "According to our projections, large areas of the globe are likely to warm up so quickly that, by the middle of this century, even the coolest summers will be hotter than the hottest summers of the past 50 years."


Figure 3. Simulations for 2080-2099 indicate how currently rare extremes (a 1-in-20-year event) are projected to become more commonplace. A day so hot that it is currently experienced once every 20 years would occur every other year or more frequently by the end of the century under the higher emissions scenario. Image credit: U.S. Global Change Program Impacts Report, 2009.

Arctic sea ice continues its record retreat
Sea ice in the Arctic continues to melt at the fastest pace in recorded history, as July ice extent has been averaging 5 - 10% less than the record low values set in 2007. According to the July 18 update from the National Snow and Ice Data Center, the rapid decline in the past few weeks is related to persistent above-average temperatures, and an early onset of the melting season due to especially low snow cover in Europe and Asia during May and June. High pressure and clear skies have dominated in the Arctic this summer, but that pattern is changing. The latest 2-week forecast from the GFS model shows that low pressure will dominate the Arctic for the next two weeks, bringing cloudier skies and less melting. This will likely slow down the melting enough so that sea ice loss will no longer be on a record pace by the 2nd week of August.

Tropical Storm Cindy
Tropical Storm Bret is dead, and Tropical Storm Cindy is moving over very chilly waters of 20°C, and does not have long to live. Cindy is not a threat to any land areas.

Invest 90L: an African wave worth watching
An African wave (Invest 90L) near 14N 55W, 400 miles east of the Lesser Antilles Islands, is moving west-northwest at about 15 - 20 mph. This wave is generating a limited amount of heavy thunderstorms due to the presence of a large amount of dust and dry air from the Sahara, and will spread heavy rain showers and strong gusty winds to the northern Lesser Antilles tonight through Saturday. The wave has a modest degree of spin to it, and is under low wind shear, 5 - 10 knots.

Dry air will continue to be a problem for 90L through Sunday, but once it finds a moister environment near the Bahama Islands early next week, it could develop. However, the expected track of the disturbance takes it over the rugged terrain of Hispaniola, which would inhibit development. Furthermore, wind shear is expected to rise to the moderate range, 10 - 20 knots, on Saturday, and could increase further by Monday, according to most of the computer models. Of the latest 00Z and 06Z runs of the four reliable models for predicting formation of a tropical depression, only the NOGAPS model shows development of 90L. The NOGAPS predicts the wave could attain tropical depression status on Tuesday, over the northwestern Bahama Islands just off the coast of Southeast Florida. The other models generally depict too much wind shear for the wave to develop. Right now, the deck appears stacked against development for 90L through at least Monday. NHC is predicting a 20% chance of development by Sunday. The eventual track of 90L next week has been trending more to the south in recent model runs, as they are generally depicting a weaker trough of low pressure developing over the Eastern U.S. This reduces the chances 90L will move up the U.S. East Coast, and increases the chances that it will enter the Gulf of Mexico.


Figure 4. Satellite image of Hurricane Dora taken July 20, 2011 by NASA's Aqua satellite.

Hurricane Dora in the Eastern Pacific weakening
Hurricane Dora in the Eastern Pacific put on an impressive burst of intensification yesterday, topping out as an impressive Category 4 storm with 155 mph winds, just 1 mph short of Category 5 status. However, high wind shear acted to knock a hole in Dora's eyewall, which has now collapsed, and steady weakening of the storm will occur today. Dora is expected to move parallel to the coast of Mexico, and should not cause any major trouble in that country. Dora is the second major hurricane in the East Pacific this year; Hurricane Adrian topped out as a Category 4 storm with 140 mph winds in early June. A NOAA P-3 aircraft will be investigating Dora over the next few days, to learn more about how Eastern Pacific hurricanes weaken when they move over colder water.

Vacation
This will be my last post until Thursday, unless 90L gets far more interesting than the current forecast. I'm headed up north to Lake Michigan to cool off and relax for a few days. In my absence, Angela Fritz will be handling the blogging duties, and she will have a post on the latest forecast for 90L on Saturday. Angela is on Pacific time, so her posts will be later in the day than I make them.

Jeff Masters

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Quoting VAbeachhurricanes:


Yeah I see that now, was probably thinking of another storm, oh well, and yes I know Arlene was big.
ir shows a good spin in the e.carib. void of deep convection for now
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90L will look impressive when recon goes into the system tomorrow, or at least, it should. When 90L went into 28-29C water temperatures from 27-28C, we got that impressive look last night. Tomorrow, it will go from 28-29C to 30-31C.

Member Since: juli 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32505
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:


You'd have at least $100.


Actually she would have 0, I dont think she has "resd" the word bust at all this season.
Member Since: september 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6667
Quoting IceCoast:




It's one thing to disagree with the NHC on certain things. It's another to say they are padding numbers for some unknown reason. It is just clearly not the case, all three named storms this year were clearly tropical cyclones. Two of them were investigated by Recon.

These are the facts, no way around it.

Padding numbers? Oh boy! We're heading into conspiracy theories now. Do you really want to head down that road. Is that what you would like the blog topic to be for the next few hours?
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Quoting extreme236:


Arlene was bigger than Arthur. It had bands that expanded well out past the central convection. Link


Yeah I see that now, was probably thinking of another storm, oh well, and yes I know Arlene was big.
Member Since: september 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6667
Quoting spathy:


That was funny last year.
The train kept a rollin after it got started.
If only had a $1 for every time I resd the word bust.


You'd have at least $100.
Member Since: juli 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32505
Quoting cat5hurricane:

No, I don't remember last year in July. I didn't join until August. But if that's how it is, that's fine. I'll make note of that.


No problem. I didn't notice your joining date so of course you probably wouldn't remember lol.
Member Since: juli 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 24457
Quoting WeatherNerdPR:

*cough* Arlene *cough*


I must be thinking of another storm other than Arthur then...
Member Since: september 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6667
1761. Patrap
Member Since: juli 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129089
Quoting VAbeachhurricanes:


It was a large system though, we havent seen any of those yet this season.


Arlene was bigger than Arthur. It had bands that expanded well out past the central convection. Link
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Quoting homewoodweather589:
i dont explain it well but you should watch one of Levi32 tibits. you might learn a thing or too if your not too hardheaded.

LOL. I'll be sure to head on in Levi's blog later and check it out.
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Quoting CybrTeddy:


2010 was slower, and is an accurate comparison as to how quickly things can change. If you can remember, people where saying the exact same thing last year as they are today.

No, I don't remember last year in July. I didn't join until August. But if that's how it is, that's fine. I'll make note of that.
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Quoting WeatherfanPR:
Even though 90l doesn't look impressive now, we still need to watch this system down the road for possible development and any threat to the USA mainland.


Threat is a relative term....Looking at the loops right now convection is building again so I would expect some rainy and gusty conditions for you folks in PR later today..........How is the weather there right now?
Member Since: august 8, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 9320
Quoting VAbeachhurricanes:


It was a large system though, we havent seen any of those yet this season.
our 2011 A storm was unusually large
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Quoting VAbeachhurricanes:


It was a large system though, we havent seen any of those yet this season.

*cough* Arlene *cough*
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This is how I determine the track for a system...Take the 1016 mb. and follow that, that is the line that systems typically follow. Usually, they will follow just south or north of it. In the situation with 90L, take the just south solution.

Member Since: juli 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32505
Quoting 19N81W:
wow that died fast....Its going to be one of those seasons...if a wave that impressive that spin up near August I highly doubt we are going to see this above average season they were forcasting...but I guess if they can knock off numbers with the likes of bret and cindy they will make their forcast...


Quoting cat5hurricane:

I bash them all the time, and that doesn't take anything away from them being good men or women. It's call a weather blog, and disagreements are what drives the blog. Get to know that.


It's one thing to disagree with the NHC on certain things. It's another to say they are padding numbers for some unknown reason. It is just clearly not the case, all three named storms this year were clearly tropical cyclones. Two of them were investigated by Recon.

These are the facts, no way around it.
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Quoting cat5hurricane:

Based of what? Probabilities. Because the U.S. was almost entirely spared last year, and because Florida has not had a direct hit from a hurricane since 2005, means this year is more dangerous?

We don't know the pattern yet for August and September and October. It is too far out in time. From what I have seen right now, there is really not a whole lot that would indicate not much of a deviation from last years steering patterns.
i dont explain it well but you should watch one of Levi32 tibits. you might learn a thing or too if your not too hardheaded.
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convection keeps building every frame near the pouch fascinating system
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Quoting extreme236:


Arthur was by no means impressive lol. It was such a quick spin up that it moved inland a few hours after formation.


It was a large system though, we havent seen any of those yet this season.
Member Since: september 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6667
Even though 90l doesn't look impressive now, we still need to watch this system down the road for possible development and any threat to the USA mainland.
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Quoting VAbeachhurricanes:


yeah, but it was a tiny spin up storm over the gulf stream, nothing like Alex from last year, or Arthur and Bertha from 2008, both large systems that came together early in the season. Nothing like that has happened this year as of yet, all quick tiny spin ups.


Arthur was by no means impressive lol. It was such a quick spin up that it moved inland a few hours after formation.
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Quoting cat5hurricane:

Based of what? Probabilities. Because the U.S. was almost entirely spared last year, and because Florida has not had a direct hit from a hurricane since 2005, means this year is more dangerous?

We don't know the pattern yet for August and September and October. It is too far out in time. From what I have seen right now, there is really not a whole lot that would indicate not much of a deviation from last years steering patterns.


Then you haven't seen much of anything.
Member Since: juli 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32505
Quoting scott39:
Henceforth--20%


The models which factor those issues (including westerlies/sheer and some dry air in the region) into the equation are looking at those issues; however, we all thought the system looked much better yesterday (from a visual perspective) and it did in fact go up to 30%........It just fell apart a bit in the "graveyard" region. Not say that something could not happen later on down the road with the wave if it holds together after the Antilles but I have not looked at the models this morning yet.
Member Since: august 8, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 9320
1743. P451
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
So far this season, we have had Tropical Storm Arlene, Tropical Storm Bret, and Tropical Storm Cindy. Typically, we do not see our first named storm on July 9th, our second named storm on August 1, and our third named storm on August 13. We typically see our first hurricane on August 10, and our first major hurricane on September 4.

* We will/are ahead with named storms
* May get ahead briefly with first hurricane
* Will definitely be ahead with major hurricane before September.


Just a little peek in graph form....

Member Since: desember 16, 2007 Posts: 7 Comments: 10202
Quoting cat5hurricane:

I was talking about 2011 thus far being off to a slow start, not 2010.


But 2011 hasn't been off to a slow start, we are already two storms ahead of average.
Member Since: juli 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32505
Quoting homewoodweather589:
because of the pattern that is setting up for august with less recurvatures and more ridging. im not saying everything will be brought to the us but it will a more dangerous season than last year as far as landfalls

Based of what? Probabilities. Because the U.S. was almost entirely spared last year, and because Florida has not had a direct hit from a hurricane since 2005, means this year is more dangerous?

We don't know the pattern yet for August and September and October. It is too far out in time. From what I have seen right now, there is really not a whole lot that would indicate not much of a deviation from last years steering patterns.
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Quoting cat5hurricane:

I was talking about 2011 thus far being off to a slow start, not 2010.


2010 was slower, and is an accurate comparison as to how quickly things can change. If you can remember, people where saying the exact same thing last year as they are today.
Member Since: juli 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 24457
Quoting cat5hurricane:

I was talking about 2011 thus far being off to a slow start, not 2010.

dude its not a slow start with 3 named storms and were not even in august
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Development is still a possibility.
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1737. Patrap
The Chart

Member Since: juli 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129089
Quoting cat5hurricane:
1714.

We have no idea what 90L will do yet. LOL. It's nothing more than an invest. There's not even NHC forecast plots for it yet. It can very well dissipate for all we know.

Just because model plots estimate where it's going to go 5 days out (if it even survives) doesn't do much justice for what it will really do.

How can anyone say what the U.S is at a greater risk of landfall of a projection of an invest 5 to 6 days out. Am I missing something here??
because of the pattern that is setting up for august with less recurvatures and more ridging. im not saying everything will be brought to the us but it will a more dangerous season than last year as far as landfalls
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Quoting CybrTeddy:


With the exception of Alex, 2010 had TD2 and Bonnie, unimpressive cyclones by this point of time. And I wouldn't have been shocked if Arlene had gone more north it would have obtained C1 hurricane status.

I was talking about 2011 thus far being off to a slow start, not 2010.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Arlene and Bret came very close to hurricane status...Bret even had an eye feature at peak intensity. I wouldn't necessarily call those two systems unimpressive.



yeah, but it was a tiny spin up storm over the gulf stream, nothing like Alex from last year, or Arthur and Bertha from 2008, both large systems that came together early in the season. Nothing like that has happened this year as of yet, all quick tiny spin ups.
Member Since: september 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6667
I agree with what most people are saying. The Caribbean/US Gulf Coast are in for a very fast ride starting in as early as a couple of weeks from now--the pattern ridge favors the high possibility of a Ivan/Dennis/Gustav-like storm...hopefully it doesn't get as destructive as the three but we're far from safe in the Gulf Coast and Caribbean.
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
sorry friend its the bashing of NHC and acusation of stacking that bit me the wrong way you are right you have a freedom of opinion sorry just try not to bash the good men and women of the NHC thats all

I bash them all the time, and that doesn't take anything away from them being good men or women. It's call a weather blog, and disagreements are what drives the blog. Get to know that.
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Quoting VAbeachhurricanes:


True, and even if we get a lot of storms if everything forms near land, or too close to colder waters, then nothing may have time to grow into one. Its all about timing really.


Absolutely correct. It really is.
Member Since: juli 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 24457
1730. scott39
Quoting weathermanwannabe:


Yes....The best explanation of this issue I saw on the blog was from Kman last season but he presented a very good analysis of the issue of the westerlies in that region an how development is usually more favorable in the western Caribbean if the wave makes it through. Generally, and this is my own observation only, if you have actually formation of a depression or storm BEFORE, it enters the eastern caribbean, the storm then survives that part of the crossing (before either hitting the greater antilles, staying south of them and crossing Cuba of the Yucatan into the gulf, or, going towards central America). "Waves" have a problem fully developing for the first time in the easter caribbean it seems but not as a fully developed storm.
Henceforth--20%
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Quoting CybrTeddy:


With the exception of Alex, 2010 had TD2 and Bonnie, unimpressive cyclones by this point of time. And I wouldn't have been shocked if Arlene had gone more north it would have obtained C1 hurricane status.
i agree completely.... i would say about that same activity at this point that last year.
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1714.

We have no idea what 90L will do yet. LOL. It's nothing more than an invest. There's not even NHC forecast plots for it yet. It can very well dissipate for all we know.

Just because model plots estimate where it's going to go 5 days out (if it even survives) doesn't do much justice for what it will really do.

How can anyone say what the U.S is at a greater risk of landfall of a projection of an invest 5 to 6 days out. Am I missing something here??
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:


Yeah, maybe I should change the wording to "very likely". The last time we didn't have a major hurricane before September was 2006, but that was a very inactive month.


True, and even if we get a lot of storms if everything forms near land, or too close to colder waters, then nothing may have time to grow into one. Its all about timing really.
Member Since: september 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6667
Arlene and Bret came very close to hurricane status...Bret even had an eye feature at peak intensity. I wouldn't necessarily call those two systems unimpressive. They weren't overly impressive, but they weren't unimpressive, especially how fast Arlene ramped up in the small BOC.

Member Since: juli 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32505
great site thank you john hope rule has been rock hard only broken a few times
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1724. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting 19N81W:
wow Keeper you take this blog way too seriously I think calling someone an idiot over a weather opinion is a bit harsh dont you? Not to mention making a threatening remark? My views may not fall in line with yours but know when to bite your tongue and grow up.
sorry friend its the bashing of NHC and acusation of stacking that bit me the wrong way you are right you have a freedom of opinion sorry just try not to bash the good men and women of the NHC thats all
Member Since: juli 15, 2006 Posts: 175 Comments: 54827
Quoting scott39:
Is the NE Caribbean part of the invest developing TC graveyard?


Yes....The best explanation of this issue I saw on the blog was from Kman last season but he presented a very good analysis of the issue of the westerlies in that region an how development is usually more favorable in the western Caribbean if the wave makes it through. Generally, and this is my own observation only, if you have actually formation of a depression or storm BEFORE, it enters the eastern caribbean, the storm then survives that part of the crossing (before either hitting the greater antilles, staying south of them and crossing Cuba or the Yucatan into the gulf, or, going towards central America). "Waves" have a problem fully developing for the first time in the easter caribbean it seems but not as a fully developed storm.
Member Since: august 8, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 9320
Quoting cat5hurricane:

No, nothing impressive looking at all.


With the exception of Alex, 2010 had TD2 and Bonnie, unimpressive cyclones by this point of time. And I wouldn't have been shocked if Arlene had gone more north it would have obtained C1 hurricane status.
Member Since: juli 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 24457
Quoting VAbeachhurricanes:


I dont know how you can say that it is a definite that we will get our first major before September. Yes it is likely, but anything can and will happen. We've had 3 storms form, 2 from cut of lows and one spin up in the BOC. Nothing very well formed or impressive looking.
where did we get our majors from last year...... lets see... the cape verde season!
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Quoting VAbeachhurricanes:


I dont know how you can say that it is a definite that we will get our first major before September. Yes it is likely, but anything can and will happen. We've had 3 storms form, 2 from cut of lows and one spin up in the BOC. Nothing very well formed or impressive looking.


Yeah, maybe I should change the wording to "very likely". The last time we didn't have a major hurricane before September was 2006, but that was a very inactive month.
Member Since: juli 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32505

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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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