Tag Archives: El Nino

Subdued 2016 Tropical Cyclone Activity so far in the Northern Hemisphere

A bit more than two weeks into the 2016 Northern Hemisphere summer we have three-named storms active over the larger Pacific Ocean basin, plus one tropical wave moving westward in the middle of hurricane alley in the Atlantic.

A tropical wave moves westward toward the Caribbean along 'hurricane alley'. Satellite images from NOAA on 07072016 using infrared filter
A tropical wave moves westward toward the Caribbean along ‘hurricane alley’. Satellite images from NOAA on 07072016 using infrared filter

Hurricane BLAS and AGATHA, now a tropical depression, are moving westward some 2000 kilometers east of the Big Island in Hawaii, while category 5 typhoon NEPARTAK, now weakening somewhat, is approaching landfall on the east coast of Taiwan over in the West Pacific on this Thursday 7 July 2016.

NOAA GOES satellite image of 07072016 showing Hurricane BLAS moving over the eastern Pacific approximately 2000 kilometers east of Hawaii
NOAA GOES satellite image of 07072016 showing Hurricane BLAS moving over the eastern Pacific approximately 2000 kilometers east of Hawaii

Tropical cyclone activity so far in 2016 in the northern hemisphere has been somewhat subdued in terms of actual cyclogenesis when compared to recent years.  As of today, Thursday 7 July 2016,  there have been 11 named tropical cyclones worldwide in the northern hemisphere compared to 19 during the same period in 2015. Three of the 2016 storms have only been generated over the past couple of days. The only basin that is a bit more active so far in 2016 versus 2015 is the northern Atlantic, which actually saw its first name tropical cyclone,  Alex, in January of this year, which ended up winding over the central North Atlantic and eventually impacting Greenland.

Satellite image [NOAA} of 07072016 showing Typhoon NEPARTAK approaching landfall on the east coast of Taiwan
Satellite image [NOAA} of 07072016 showing Typhoon NEPARTAK approaching landfall on the east coast of Taiwan
In my opinion, most of this change in tropical cyclone activity so far in 2016 may be attributed to the current neutral El Niño  conditions over the central to eastern Pacific near the equator, after a strong ENSO (El Niño Southern Oscillation) anomaly in 2015 and earlier this year.  Sea-surface temperatures (SST) at the equator are somewhat cooler than average in the central-to-eastern Pacific Ocean. Conditions are looking favorable for the development of La Niña during this 2016 summer in the Northern Hemisphere, perhaps by the fall and the 2016-2017 winter.

There were a total of sixty-six named tropical cyclones plus eleven tropical depressions in the Northern Hemisphere during 2015. Only time will tell how many named storms we will have in 2016, and which basin will see above or below average seasons this year.

Historically La Niña years have brought increased cyclogenesis over the northern Atlantic basin, and the forecast from the National Hurricane Center and others that have issued predictions calls for a somewhat above average 2016 Atlantic Hurricane season.

All interest in and around the Atlantic basin should pay attention,  remain alert, be prepared, and mitigate!

June 12, 2015: It is Carlos, the Caribbean, the Gulf, and floods in Nicaragua!

There is plenty of disturbed weather near our neck-of-the woods here if our Florida paradise!

Infrared GOEST-EAST satellie [NOAA] image of 12 June showing Tropical Storm CARLOS almost stationary and strengthening to the southwest of Acapulco, Mexico
Infrared GOEST-EAST satellite [NOAA] image of 12 June showing Tropical Storm CARLOS almost stationary and strengthening to the southwest of Acapulco, Mexico

Today, Friday 12 June 2015, marks the first four weeks of the ‘official’ 2015 East Pacific Hurricane Season, which is off to a fast start with three named storm already. The latest of these storms, Tropical Storm CARLOS is almost stationary some 200 kilometers southwest of Acapulco, Mexico over an area of warm surface waters and a favorable ocean-atmosphere environment that may  lead to further strengthening of this tropical cyclone.

Tropical storm CARLOS tracks as of 12 June [courtesy of the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory]
Tropical storm CARLOS tracks as of 12 June [courtesy of the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory]

Opposite T.S. Carlos off the eastern coast of the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico  on the Yucatan peninsula, there is an area of low pressure and an active cell of stormy weather over the northwestern Caribbean.

Infrared GOEST-EAST Satellite image [NOAA} showing various weather disturbances over the Gulf of Mexico, the northwestern Caribbean, the offshore Pacific waters off Central America, and northern South America, and 'Hurricane alley'
Infrared GOEST-EAST Satellite image [NOAA} showing various weather disturbances over the Gulf of Mexico, the northwestern Caribbean, the offshore Pacific waters off Central America, and northern South America, and ‘Hurricane alley’

Just to the north of that disturbance, over the central Gulf of Mexico, there is a large ‘glob’ of stormy weather that is already generating copious rain over a wide area.

Looking south, over Central America, the off-shore waters of the Eastern Pacific, the central Caribbean, and the northern regions of South America over Colombia, Venezuela and Guyana, there are plenty of systems that have prevailed for some time now, fueling rainy and stormy weather over a large area.

The aggregation of all of these elements of weather has already  had adverse consequences over the region extending from central/southern Mexico, through Central America and Panama, to northern South America.

This prevailing and current weather pattern over this region [Caribbean and Gulf activity], which is really a continuation, a repeat if you will, of what we have seen in recent years and most especially in 2014 when the East Pacific hurricane season generated  20 named tropical cyclones, surpassing the 18 generated in 2013, has had particularly damaging consequences in Nicaragua where extreme rain events over most of the country including over Managua, the capital city, where more than 200 mm of rain fell there yesterday over a period of 6 hours, leading to numerous instances of flash floods, some death by drowning, and extensive damage to homes and infrastructure. Emergency management authorities have declared an emergency  and have evacuated hundreds of families in Managua and in other communities.

Photo showing flood waters rushing down a causeway in Managua, Nicaragua after 200 mm of rain fell in less than six hours between 11 and 12 June 2015
Photo showing flood waters rushing down a causeway in Managua, Nicaragua after 200 mm of rain fell in less than six hours between 11 and 12 June 2015

There is no question, but that all interests in the region will need to watch unfolding events closely,  but as El Niño continues to develop off the Pacific coast of Peru and Ecuador prevailing wind currents are causing tropical waves along ‘Hurricane Alley’ to traverse over northern South America and Panama into the Eastern Pacific where they are fueling the kinds of disturbed weather we have seen over the past few weeks, and potentially future cyclonic activity as well.

It is clear that there may be plenty of  this kind of activity in the  northern tropics over coming months, consequently all interests in Nicaragua, or Mexico, or in the rest of Central America, and in the Caribbean and especially here in Florida must remain alert, be prepared and continue to mitigate!