Tag Archives: 2012 Atlantic hurricane season

Tell Mother Nature is time to wind down!

Today is Monday 22 October 2012 and we are about 80% done with the “official” 2012 Atlantic Hurricane season, but Mother Nature appears to be busy stirring potential cyclonic activity in the Caribbean and west-central Atlantic that could end-up affecting interest around the Caribbean basin, the Bahamas or Florida.

Let us take a look at what our neck-of-the-woods tropics may have in store tat may warrant a closer look:

GOES color-enhanced infrared satellite image (NOAA) showing some potential cyclonic development in the Caribbean and west-central Atlantic Ocean on 22 October 2012

First we see two large and strong storm cells close to one another in the central Caribbean to the south of Hispaniola moving generally toward the SW in an environment of rather warm surface waters and low wind shear aloft, which looks favorable for tropical cyclone generation over the next few hours. Beyond any potential cyclonic development today a combination of atmospheric features over the Gulf of Mexico and Florida may contribute to a change of course for this system to a more northerly or even northeasterly track over the next couple of days, which would take the potential storm into an environment of strong wind shear. Should this speculative forecast actually take place Jamaica, Hispaniola, Cuba and the Bahamas could be impacted by some strong winds and plenty of rain and thunderstorms later on this week. Interaction with Florida may also take place, but we’ll have to wait  until mid-week to get a better read on that.

Visible light satellite image (NASA) showing the cell of low pressure and disturbed weather in the central Caribbean on 22 October 2012 that is showing potential for cyclonic development as early as today

Beyond the Caribbean over the open waters of the west-central Atlantic Ocean some 1,100 kilometers northeast of the Virgin Islands there is a region of low pressure with plenty of thunderstorms, which is showing signs of getting better organized and potential for cyclonic development over the next 36-48 hours. This system is moving toward the north and all indications are that it may turn toward the northeast posing no threat to Florida or other USA coastal regions along the Atlantic seaboard.

Satellite image under visible light (NASA) showing a cell of low pressure and stormy weather over the west-central Atlantic that may develop further over the next 36-48 hours as it moves over open waters

Farther to the East the assembly line over Equatorial Africa is generating tropical waves, but it appears that with the change in seasons and the movement of the Sun’s zenith southward of the equator this tropical wave activity has also shifted southward toward the equator, which could mean traffic along ‘hurricane alley’ may also take the southerly route and either move over Panama and Central America and beyond over the eastern North Pacific ocean or possibly get into the Caribbean to threaten interest in central America, the Yucatan or the Antilles. So, we still need to keep an eye of  this activity and be prepared for any eventuality over the next few weeks.

Color-enhanced infrared satellite image (NOAA) showing tropical wave generation over Equatorial Africa and the eastern Atlantic on 22 October 2012

Elsewhere in the world there is wide-spread storm activity over the Indian Ocean including one cell off India’s west coast that is showing signs of potential cyclonic development. While in the Philippine Sea near the Philippine’s eastern coast there is an area of low pressure and stormy weather that may potentially develop into a tropical cyclone over a region that has seen significant activity so far in 2012.

Color-enhanced infrared satellite image (NOAA) showing plenty of tropical activity over the Indian Ocean on 22 October 2012 including a potential tropical cyclone off shore to the west of India

Color-enhanced infrared satellite image (NOAA) showing potential tropical cyclone activity over the Philippine Sea off the east coast of the Philippines on 22 October 2012

In summary there are several ‘hot spots’ with potential for cyclonic development around the world on this Monday 22 October 2012, but the tally of actual tropical cyclones that have been generated so far this year still points to another sub-par worldwide season for this year at least although there are still seventy days left until the end of the year.

Against this background of worldwide tropical cyclone activity, it should be noted that the threat pose by sea level rise continues unabated. While many may tend to dismiss sea level rise as a significant hazards, some for ideological reasons and others because they focus on the current average rise of 3 mm per year and believe that is truly insignificant, the reality is that this hazards is already causing serious problems in the coastal regions of many countries and island nations. Just last week numerous scientists had their eyes on the coastal region of southeastern Florida where several instances of flooding took place at high tide in locations that used to be “high and dry” just a few years ago. On this topic it is important to note that every storm surge event that impacts the coasts of Florida or other states along the Gulf or Atlantic regions already carries the imprint of sea level rise in the form of higher water depth and waves. It is clear that quietly, but yet surely and irreversibly, sea level rise has the potential for contributing to vast amounts of damage along our coastal regions, which in some cases may include a significant alteration of our own way of life as we have known it up to now.

Seventeen and counting!

Saturday 13 October 2012! Almost 75% done with the ‘official’ 2012 Atlantic Hurricane Season, and there is plenty of cyclonic activity our there in the tropics.

In the larger Atlantic basin there is Tropical Storm RAFAELthe 17th named tropical cyclone of the 2012 Atlantic Hurricane Season,  over the Lesser Antilles moving generally to the northwest, but expected to make a gradual turn to the north and eventually the northeast as it interacts with a trough over the southeastern USA, the Gulf of Mexico and Florida.  With maximum sustained winds barely reaching 65 kph the storm had begun to show signs of getting better organized and becoming stronger, but the environment ahead contains strong wind shear and may not be too favorable for further development.

Color-enhanced infrared GOES satellite image (NOAA) of 13 October 2012 showing Tropical Storm RAFAEL and Tropical Depression PATTY on the periphery of the Caribbean Sea

Closer to Florida there is now Tropical depression PATTY, the weakened remnants of the tropical storm of the same name, moving generally southward over Cuba being pushed by the system that is descending over the Gulf of Mexico and the southeastern USA.

Atlantic-wide satellite image (NOAA) on 13 October 2012 showing water vapor in the atmosphere as a way of highlighting the complex interaction of various atmospheric features and both Tropical Depression PATTY and Tropical Storm RAFAEL

What is interesting to see with RAFAEL and PATTY is how they are getting closer to one another and yet they are tracking in opposite directions under the influence and interaction of several atmospheric components now over the Gulf, Caribbean and western Atlantic region.

Projected track for Tropical Depression PATTY on 13 October 2012 developed by the U>S> Navy Research Laboratory on the basis of observational data from NOAA
Projected track for Tropical Storm RAFAEL on 13 October 2012 developed by the U.S. Navy Research Laboratory on the basis of observational data from NOAA

Farther to east over the Cape Verde Islands there is a large tropical wave that may need monitoring as it moves generally toward the west and ‘hurricane alley’ in the next day or so.

Color-enhanced infrared satellite image (NOAA) of rhe eastern Atlantic Ocean on 13 October 2012 showing a large tropical wave over the Cape Verde Islands moving generally westward along ‘hurricane alley’

Continuing our outlook to the east, there is not much tropical activity along the ‘tropical wave assembly line’ over Equatorial Africa, but beyond the eastern coast of the African continent in the central Indian Ocean we find the first tropical cyclone to be generated in the southern hemisphere in a long time; a sign that after the ‘autumnal equinox’ the ocean waters and atmosphere south of the equator have started to grow warmer. This is Cyclone ANAIS, which has rapidly strengthened in the past 24 hours from tropical storm to a category 2 tropical cyclone. The storm is moving southwest toward Madagascar.

Color-enhanced infrared satellite image (NOAA) showing Cyclone ANAIS over the Indian Ocean on 13 October 2012 moving in the general direction of Madagascar

Far over the Philippines Sea, in the northwestern Pacific, Typhoon PRIPAROON a category 1 tropical cyclone is moving toward the northeast near the island of Okino-Tori-Shima (Japan) on a path that could take between Okinawa and Iwo-Jima.  This typhoon is being shadowed by a large cell of stormy weather to its southeast that exhibits some interesting characteristics and may warrant close monitoring for potential further development.

Color-enhanced infrared satellite image (NOAA) over the far northwestern Pacific on 13 October 2012 showing Typhoon PRAPIROON in the Philippine Sea moving toward the northeast, and its shadowing storm cell to its southeast
Color-enhanced infrared GOES satellite image (NOAA) on 13 October 2012 showing a strong tropical wave off the coast of Mexico, which warrants monitoring for potential further development

At the other extreme of the Pacific Ocean near the coast of Mexico a strong tropical wave is generating strong storms and plenty of rain some 1,000 kilometers to the WSW of Acapulco, Mexico, and it is being monitored for potential cyclonic development over the next 24-36 hours.

So, there is plenty of activity in the northern tropics even as the transition toward a regime of tropical cyclones over the southern hemisphere has already began.  While we have seen above average activity, in terms of number of tropical cyclones, over the Atlantic and Eastern Pacific basins, and plenty of activity also over the Northwestern Pacific, we are still below the historical average of the past 50 years on a calendar year-to-date basis worldwide. We will continue to monitor to see what else Mother Nature has in store in terms of tropical cyclone activity in what remains of 2012.