Monday, December 03, 2012

December 2: Second attempt at last day of the 2012 Atlantic Hurricane Season

<trumpets> I hereby formally declare that *this* is it…the last day of the 2012 Atlantic Hurricane Season! J

The Atlantic blobette is fizzling out in the face of strong wind shear and cold water temperatures. Quite right too. What on earth was Mother Nature thinking? There is holiday music in the air! ‘Tis the glitter and light season, not the hurricane season!

Before I begin my final remarks, a quick note on Typhoon Bopha over in the western Pacific... the storm passed south of Palau late yesterday/earlier today. I think it was probably a cat 2 storm (range:  96-110mph) as it passed by. The eye vanished earlier today, after it’s interaction with Palau, which means it dropped down to being a Tropical Storm/weak cat 1 (maybe around 85-90mph winds). However the eye has just re-developed,

as it continues on its track towards the southern Philippines, which means it is now a strong cat 1 (90-95mph) - officially they say it is a cat 3 storm at the moment (range: 111-130mph)!

May I just say: Thank goodness that the overly busy 2012 Atlantic Hurricane season is finally over!! J J

The final official tally was 19 named storms, of which 10 were hurricanes, but only 2 major hurricanes - Michael and Sandy, when she was in the Caribbean (major hurricanes are cat 3 or higher). This exceeded all predictions of the season (made before, and even revised during, the season)!

NOAA had forecast 9-15 named storms, of which 4-8 would become hurricanes, and 1-3 would be major. An average season has about 12 named storms, 6 hurricanes, and 3 major hurricanes… so they were really hedging their bets on an average season. Oopsy. They changed this prediction in August (just over two months into the season) to 12-17 named storms, 5-8 hurricanes, 2-3 major hurricanes. Oopsy again. They weren’t alone in underestimating the season. A well-known private company predicted 12 named storms, 5 hurricanes, and 2 major hurricanes. Colorado State University had forecast 13 named storms, 5 hurricanes, and 2 major hurricanes. The UK Met Office had forecast 7 – 13 named storms. If some of those ‘made-up’ wishy-washy storms in the early part of the season hadn’t been named, these numbers would probably have been about right.  

Goodness me but wasn’t some of the official forecasting in the first half of this season a load of codswallop? In fact, like the entire 6-film Star Wars saga, the first half was a tad irksome. First, it really did look like someone, somewhere, was concerned about getting the right numbers to match the official forecast so they were naming storms willy-nilly, including upgrading Chris, who lasted only ~3 days in total, to a hurricane (for less than 6 hours). No wonder they ‘exceeded’ their seasonal ‘prediction’! Second, the track forecasts were all over the place! Tropical Storm Debbie was forecast to make landfall in Texas, and two days later made landfall north of Tampa Bay in Florida! Third, the intensity. Eeek. Where to begin? I think our ability to predict the intensity isn’t as bad as it was made out to be - if actual data is used (gasp, horror!) and we don’t rely only on models! ...  “use the Force Luke”. It does mean you have to understand what nature is providing of course. Always a bit of a challenge.

The last half of the season was different  – did someone find the light switch part way through Hurricane Isaac (forecast to hit Tampa Bay during the RNC but just brought a bit of rain on its way to southern Louisiana)? After that, the NHC track forecasts improved dramatically, to the point where I was  finally convinced that the 2 day track forecast was really excellent (i.e. better than mine ;-)). The good news is that if that continues in the next season, I can just sit back and refer to them for the last two days of track. Of course they still have a way to go on intensity so I can’t quite retire completely! (yet ;-)).

But that’s enough of that! It is time to say THANK YOU! Thank you for continuing to read my profound, witty, charming, entertaining, fabulous, hilarious, and clearly quite modest and humble writings! Thank you for telling your friends and family (I assume they are still your friends and family? ;-))… this season my blog website alone has had over 22,000 hits (current tally is 43, 550), with a few tens of thousands reading via other means too. Obviously you all have discerning and refined tastes, are intelligent and literate, and have the best sense of humour! ;-) This will be the 599th entry on my website… practically a book that Tolstoy would be envious of! ;-)

My sincere thanks to those who sent me jokes, asked questions, and sent comments, and especially to those of you who were in the path of storms and continued to send updates, photos and videos! I hope that everyone has recovered, or is on the path to recovery, from assorted storms that hit so many parts of the Caribbean, the Gulf and Atlantic, and the eastern seaboard this year. And thanks again to those who are always there to help before, during, and after a storm has hit! I’d also like to thank all those who helped to bring this to you: to those who provided the data via planes, on the ground (or over the water), and by satellites; to the folks at the NHC for all their hard work and for giving me something to grumble about ;-) ; and to my great technical support team… Doug M. at the CMS/USF ( in Florida for helping with the listserve, to Chris H. in Georgia and Ben A. for help with the website. Last but not least, thanks to my family and friends for your usual attempts at keeping me sane and supplied with cheese (hmmm… cheese J)… and especially thanks to my husband, Ben Alpi, for being understanding of all the hours I’ve spent on my ‘hobby’, in my own little world, writing and analyzing. By the way, for those who are into westerns (or even if you are not), he has just completed a lovely short epic western, Cowboy Creed. Check out the trailer on his production company’s (Runic Films) website:

Now it is time to hibernate for the year! <yawn> You can follow me on twitter, where I expect I will continue to be a twit (JyovianStorm on twitter). I also have one or two other things I have to do during the next six months… like drink wine, eat cheese, have a cup of tea, eat some ice cream (probably not all at the same time though). I wish you all a safe and happy holiday season, a safe and happy non-hurricane season, a safe and happy end-of-the-world-day-according-to-the-Mayan-Calendar-but-not-really, and a very merry New Year!!  I’ll be back in 2013 (and hopefully no sooner, unless they confirm the Higgs-Boson, aliens find us, or something along those lines)!


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DISCLAIMER: These remarks are just what I think/see regarding tropical storms - not the opinion of any organization I represent. If you are making an evacuation decision, please heed your local emergency management and the National Hurricane Center's official forecast and the National Weather Service announcements. This is not an official forecast. If I "run away, run away" (Monty Python), I'll let you know.