Friday, July 29, 2022

July 28: Well past the Official Start of the 2022 North Atlantic Hurricane Season!

I'm baaack!! Did ya miss me? I know, I know, I missed the end of last season, the official start of this season, and even the first three Tropical Storms of 2022! But I had a very very good reason... I forgot my password. ;-) 

Ok, I didn't really (well, not this time anyway), but it was a rather busy and extremely rough and rocky off-season as we said thank you and a final farewell to my wonderful mum! But I think it has been rough and rocky for most of the world, which seems to have gone a bit bananas lately. So, I reckon we are all overdue for a bit'o'laughter, some scoops of wonderful weather science, with dollops of ice cream, glasses of wine, cups of tea, and hordes of jaffa cakes to see us through! I hope you are ready.

Before I get around to what can we expect this season, a few key pointers (and reminders for all you clearly intelligent repeat-visitors) about this blog… 

1. These updates are about fun, forecasting, and education... and tropical storms (and whatever else pops into my head that may, with some imagination and possibly after a lychee martini or two, fit those three words). It is just what I think.

2. I have a British sense of humoUr... you have been warned. There will be random letters in words when you least expect them. But less random than if this was in Welsh. Or Irish (Gaelic). 

3. This is my hobby - sometimes you'll get one update a day, sometime four. If you are really lucky, you won't get any. If you wish to pay me to write, let me know. I’m sure there is an AI out there by now that can take over and make this into the masterpiece of writing I can only dream of.

4. I hope you like Monty Python, Eddie Izzard, The IT Crowd. And other Funny Stuff.

5. If you have any questions (preferably about tropical storms), please ask. I will be happy to make up the answers for you. I can also cut and paste from previous entries (I’m very talented) so if I say something or use some "scientific jargon" (always thrilling!), please ask me about it.

6. I often write tongue-in-cheek, which sometimes hurts my cheek but what can you do? Gentle sarcasm, irony, and puns are all perfectly acceptable forms of communication. Unfortunately, they don't always translate in writing so please don't be offended - like Planet Earth, I'm "Mostly Harmless" (Douglas Adams). Have a piece of chocolate or a soothing cup of tea instead.

7. I'm sure every cloud in the Atlantic is exciting to some but, unless I'm bored, I'll usually write about those that I think are important.

8. Despite what you may have heard, I am not always right. But then neither is anyone else. Forecasting is complicated. Sometimes the crystal ball gets smudges and you are all out of Windex to clean it and the store is closed (or, these days, there's a supply chain issue). So PLEASE pay attention to the National Hurricane Center, National Weather Service and your Emergency Managers - especially when a storm is looming because they have the most up-to-date information!!

9. I confess I am a twit. I am on twitter (@jyovianstorm). Twitter is cool sometimes. Just like bow-ties are cool (Dr. Who). And Science Fiction is cool. And ice in an orange G&T (so yum!) is the coolest of all. I will post these updates on Twitter, but I’ll also tweet about storms in other basins, my job (including live dives exploring the deep sea – ooh, ahh, you never know what you will see!), my movie, other people’s jobs, other people's movies, cool science, brilliant people, goofy things etc. so if you want to catch up between updates, that’s the place to lurk.

10. I will refer to ice cream, wine, cheese, cups of tea, jaffa cakes, and lychee martinis fairly frequently. To preemptively answer your questions, I do eat and drink other things for a balanced diet. For example, prawn cocktail crisps, fruit & nut chocolate, water, G&Ts.

Right, now we've got those formalities out of the way, let's have a look at what to expect this season. The predictions from my usual suspects are ... 

Tropical Storm Risk (prediction date: 5 July): 18 named storms, 9 hurricanes, 4 major hurricanes.

Colorado State University (prediction date: 7 July): 20 named storms, 10 hurricanes, 5 major hurricanes.

UK Met Office (prediction date: 23 May): 18 (13-23) named storms, 9 (6-12) hurricanes, 4 (2-6) major hurricanes.

NOAA (prediction date: 24 May): 14-21 named storms, 6-10 hurricanes, 3-6 major hurricanes. 

On average between 1991-2020 (30 years), there were 14 named tropical storms per year, 7 hurricanes per year, and 3 major hurricanes (category 3 or higher) per year. So, generally, the predictions for 2022 are above the average number of named storms/hurricanes/major hurricanes - meaning that they think it will be a busy year. 

But how did they do last year? As a reminder, at the start of the season they were thinking it would be busier than average... similar to this year...  

Tropical Storm Risk (prediction date: 27 May): 18 named storms, 9 hurricanes, 4 major hurricanes.

Colorado State University (prediction date: 3 June): 18 named storms, 8 hurricanes, 4 major hurricanes.

UK Met Office (prediction date: 20 May): 14 (9-19) named storms, 7 (4-10) hurricanes, 3 (1-5) major hurricanes.

NOAA (prediction date: 20 May): 13-20 named storms, 6-10 hurricanes, 3-5 major hurricanes. 

And they were generally not too far off the mark: the 2021 season had 21 named storms so it was busier than average; and there were 7 hurricanes in 2021, so about average on the number of hurricanes, of which 4 were major hurricanes. 

But, there are a couple of things to understand about these numbers.

First, the number of years (and which years) you look at for the average baseline - in this case, we are using 1991-2020 instead of taking 20 years from 1992-2021.

Second, technology has steadily improved over the last few decades so our ability to detect some of these storms has improved. The NHC (and fellow experts) have said that there are more named 'shorties' (short-lived, weak storms - not more hobbits in case you were wondering ;-)) in recent years than in the past because of technology not because of climate change. So the numbers have increased in the last few years because of  tropical storms that existed for less than 24 hours, or were so weak that in the past they wouldn't have been detected or named. 

And the three named storms we've had this year are all shorties too - all of them were named for less than 2 days, and two were named for less than 24 hours (Bonnie and Colin - shouldn't it have been Bonnie and Clyde?). In all cases, they were named after they picked up a lot of water vapor as they passed over either the Gulf Stream or over the very warm waters of the Caribbean so they had more convective activity.

With improved technology, I expect we will see more named shorties and in a few years, when they re-calculate the 30 year average, those average number will go up as well. 

So, I hope you are all prepared with your hurricane supplies! Here's my list (even works in Los Angeles) … water, wine, ice cream, a good book to read, wine, some candles, more ice cream, a radio (soothing classical music perhaps?), batteries, some more wine, mosquito repellent, and lots and lots of cans of lychees, gin (and tonic), and lychee liquor for the lychee martinis (because fruits are good for your health). And the pandemic special edition additions of course include: face masks, hand sanitizer, wipes. And cheese. Just because. :-) 

For now, it seems peaceful over the North Atlantic... wouldn't it be nice if this was my one and only post for this season? 

Toodle pip for now!


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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 local weather service announcements. This is not an official forecast. If I "run away, run away" (Monty Python), I'll let you know.

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