Tag Archives: northern hemisphere

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!

Early Summer 2014: A panoramic view of Earth!

Early Summer 2014 on Earth’s northern hemisphere. Wherever you look  there are flashes of storms, extreme rain, flash floods and other disturbed weather events everywhere. It seems Mother Nature is experimenting with everything there is in  the atmosphere, including gigantic twin tornadoes striking simultaneously in the Heartland USA!

Let us take a look at what our satellites are seeing from above. The three images that follow are mosaics of satellite observations made earlier this Tuesday, 24 June 2014, with water-vapor filters, which  help highlight areas of storms and  disturbed weather.

Water-vapor fileter satelite view of Earth's western hemisphere on Tuesday 24 June 2014
Water-vapor filter satellite view of Earth’s western hemisphere on Tuesday 24 June 2014

The view above shows large storms over Texas and the Great Plains USA, a large area of storms extending from Northern South America over Panama, Costa Rica and Nicaragua. There is also a large cell off the coast of Central America and Mexico over the eastern east Pacific Ocean. And ‘Hurricane Alley’ shows a slim train of storm cells riding along on their westward journey. However, Equatorial Africa, which is the feeder for Hurricane Alley appears quiet and devoid of any major systems, but farther to the east over the Indian Ocean there are some major cells of tropical activity that may eventually find their way over Equatorial Africa to activate the ‘tropical wave assembly line’ in coming days.

Mosaic of satellite images highlighting water-vapor in the atmosphere on Tuesday 24 June 2014, over the Pacific  basin above the  equator
Mosaic of satellite images highlighting water-vapor in the atmosphere on Tuesday 24 June 2014, over the Pacific basin above the equator

The ‘belt of tropical activity’ appears much more active than over the Atlantic and Equatorial Africa on this view.  A train of large storm systems extends all the way from the Gulf of Panama in the east to the Philippines and beyond or more than 20,000 km. with only one significant gap to the southeast of Hawaii.

Water-vapor filtered mosaic of satellite images of 24 June 2014 over Australia, portiond of the Indian Ocean and the Southeast Pacific Ocean
Water-vapor filtered mosaic of satellite images of 24 June 2014 over Australia, portions of the Indian Ocean and the Southeast Pacific Ocean

A rather different array of  weather systems is visible over the high latitudes in the southern hemisphere, where winter 2014 has just set in. A major weather system is clearly visible over New Zealand. However the other big islands south of the equator, Australia, Madagascar, are enjoying mostly clear weather during the earlier hours of this Tuesday 24 June 2014.

We all know however that it is just a question of time. Some of these cells in the northern hemisphere may start to show signs of cyclonic development, and in no time we may see a tropical cyclone over any of the basins that are cradles of cyclogenesis. So we keep on watching, looking for those early signs that allows us to investigate, and follow, and forecast. It is a never ending process between humans and Nature.

The most amazing aspect of this, one at which I always marvel, is that a rather insignificant weather cell over the central Indian Ocean just starting its westward journey. and a similarly anonymous storm cell over the Northwestern Pacific moving eastward along the fringes of a jet-strean may, not only survive their long journeys, but actually grow picking-up  strength and  size along the way, and get to interact with one another three weeks from today generating the next cyclonic event over the Atlantic, our neck-of-the-woods here in Florida.

Consequently, amazing as this view from above, and marvelous as the never-ending workings of the atmosphere and oceans are, the fact remains that we humans must always be alert, prepared and engaged in the practice of mitigation to reduce the potential for damage from that next one, which might be under gestation starting from opposite extreme of our planet Earth.

Enjoy today’s panoramic vistas. Keep on watching!