blog post feed en-us <![CDATA[The 2008 Hurricane Season in Historical Context — So Far]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2008 06:49:00 EST <![CDATA[Is It Time to Get Worried About the 2008 Hurricane Season?]]> This isn't normal.

It's getting into the final part of July, and already we've had four named storms in the Atlantic region--and good reason to expect that we may see a fifth before August. Moreover, the types of storms we're seeing are also troubling.

 map of heating in gulf of mexico july 20 2008

Warming in the Gulf of Mexico, July 20, 2008

In particular, the finally dissipated Hurricane Bertha set all manner of records, most of them associated with longevity and strength so early in the season. That includes becoming the longest lived Atlantic hurricane ever recorded in July, and the third strongest ever recorded in that month (and sixth strongest overall among pre-August hurricanes).

And now we're looking at a likely Hurricane Dolly, which will get the chance to churn over the extremely warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico before making landfall somewhere (presumably) along the Mexico or Texas Gulf coast.

Meanwhile, the National Hurricane Center has just begun to track a strong tropical wave--much like the precursor to Bertha--that is emerging off of the African Coast. The strongest Atlantic hurricanes, dubbed Cape Verde-type storms, generally form from such waves--and generally do so later in the season. But that's not the case in 2008.

Granted, this year isn't starting off quite as busily as 2005--which featured no less than six named storms by the end of July. Still, it could be very close.

Mon, 21 Jul 2008 01:05:00 EST
<![CDATA[Hurricane Bertha "One for the Record Books"]]>

From the start, there was something pretty odd about Hurricane Bertha.

The storm formed just before Independence Day last week, and immediately showed plenty of it. Bertha developed from a tropical wave almost immediately as the disturbance came off the coast of Africa, and so became the most easterly forming July tropical storm known to us, as well as the most easterly forming Atlantic tropical storm period.

In this, Bertha was aided along by warmer than average ocean temperatures, which could sustain the storm's development so early in the season. As hurricane expert Greg Holland of the National Center for Atmospheric Research put it to me by email, Bertha was "one for the record books" -- and the storm was just getting going.

Atlantic sea surface temperature

As Bertha moved steadily westward, she intensified, first becoming a hurricane and then exploding into a powerful Category 3 major hurricane Monday with 120 mile per hour winds—and possibly, for a brief while, a Category 4. It's the earliest we've seen such an intense Atlantic hurricane since ...]]> Wed, 09 Jul 2008 08:35:00 EST <![CDATA[Tropical Cyclone Nargis: Get Ready for the Worst]]> We all remember (I hope) November's Cyclone Sidr, the deadliest global hurricane in a decade, which killed more than 3,000 people after making a powerful landfall in Bangladesh. After that, you would think this vulnerable region would get a break – but Cyclone Nargis may have other ideas. ...]]> Mon, 28 Apr 2008 11:16:00 EST <![CDATA[In Climate Science, Beware the Conversion Narrative]]> Okay, so: Yesterday I gave a good, long, hard read to this paper, just published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society by MIT hurricane guru Kerry Emanuel and some colleagues. It was incumbent upon me to do so for two reasons: 1. Emanuel is one of the main personages in my book Storm World, which chronicles much of the hoopla that occurred after he and another team of scientists published twin 2005 papers suggesting that global warming had markedly increased the intensity of the average hurricane; 2. this latest paper has inspired press reports suggesting that Emanuel is now changing his tune, backing away from his previous conclusions. ...]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2008 08:37:00 EST <![CDATA[Was that a Hurricane? In <em>Oklahoma</em>?]]>

Consider: Over water, Erin was never anything but a weak and disorganized tropical storm, one that struck the Texas coast on August 16 with maximum sustained winds of 30 knots (tropical depression class).

But then something beyond crazy happened. ...

Sat, 12 Apr 2008 06:13:00 EST
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