Tag Archives: Thyphoon

Tell Mother Nature Hurricane Season Starts in Six Days!

That would be the 2011 Atlantic Hurricane season! Does Mother Nature know she has to punch a time card on 1 June 2011 and start working on her cyclogenesis?

Nine weeks ago as Earth’s mid-section crossed directly under the Sun during the spring equinox the oceans and atmosphere north of the equator started growing warmer. As the coupled ocean-atmosphere system in the northern hemisphere deals with more heat there has been a gradual increase in the number of so-called weather events, as Nature uses its arsenal of processes in a continuous balancing-between-extremes act, which is often punctuated by extreme events when conditions reach levels of critical instability.

So far in 2011, anecdotally at least, there appears to be a continuous chain of weather events punctuated by extremes especially as winter gave way to spring, and now as we approach summer in the northern hemisphere. The pulses of large storm systems that have spawned East of the Rockies to then proceed eastward creating havoc across the great plains, and the south and the central regions, as well as in the northeast with hurricane force winds, extreme rain, hail, thunderstorms and devastating deadly tornado swarms, in addition to record-breaking spring flooding in the Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Red River and other basins, certainly bear witness to the frequency with which these extreme events are happening.

Confronted with these events and as the media have continued to bombard the national public with reports of death, destruction and damage, and at times all too graphic imagery of despair and human suffering, the inevitable questions of: why is this happeningIs this related to global warming?  and others, are on the table to be debated and pondered by everyone. 

Not surprisingly, as the debate of these issues heats-up and the scientific community takes positions on both sides of them, there are few or no answers as to what it all mean or what can be done. While technical explanations have been provided as to what has caused given events, by and large  we are seeing more of the same with respect to the discussion on global climate change and global warming.

With this as a backdrop here we are just six days from what we call the 2011 Atlantic Hurricane Season seeing plenty of hurricane guidesbeing distributed through various means, special reports in the electronic and printed media, and the conferences and reminders to be prepared, to have a plan, to have a hurricane kit and in general the obvious one: to deal with the fact we live in Florida otherwise known as hurricane country.

Today 26 May 2011 we see plenty of signs that various components of cyclogenesis [the generation of tropical cyclones – hurricanes] are already in place or at work in the northern hemisphere.

Far away in the northern western Pacific category 4 typhoon SONGDA is approaching the Philippines even as it turns toward the north by northwest in the general direction of Taiwan and southern Japan. This is the same region that less than 3 weeks ago was hit by tropical storm AERES, and which saw several tropical cyclones in 2010. The color-enhanced infrared satellite image [courtesy of NASA] below illustrates how typhoon SONGDA is affecting a large region of the western Pacific:

On the opposite side of the Earth, over in the eastern Atlantic we see the tropical wave assembly line busy over equatorial Africa, with several strong tropical waves already forming a train over the southern extreme of hurricane alley and moving toward South America and the Caribbean; this is illustrated by the color-enhanced infrared satellite image of the region taken today 26 May 2011:

Tropical waves similar to those shown of the satellite image above have contributed to heavy rains and flooding over the northern regions of Venezuela and Colombia earlier this year. Also, some of these waves traverse over the isthmus of Panama and emerge over the eastern Pacific to interact with La Nina influenced waters and atmosphere, which has led to a pattern of large rain and thunderstorm cells generated over the area and affecting several countries in Central America similar to what took place in 2010 over the same region. The eastern Pacific 2011 hurricane season officially started on May 15 2011.

Some of the conditions described before are evident of the composite satellite image of Earth’s full disk showing the western hemisphere on 26 May 2011 as we near the ‘official’ start of the 2011 Atlantic hurricane season:

Only time will tell how “busy” the 2011 Atlantic Hurricane season will turnout to be or if global warming contributes in any way to exacerbate the impacts of tropical cyclones that do form over the Atlantic in 2011. What is clear is that Mother Nature will continue on its quest for balance between extremes in response to that which is a constant: change!

Danielle, Earl, Fiona, Kompasu, Lionrock, Namtheun etc

Two hurricanes, one of them a category 4, four tropical storms and at least six tropical waves are currently active in the northern tropics fulfilling our earlier assessment that the ‘tropics are hot’ and things are happening quite fast in the tropics. It would appear the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season has suddenly entered a whole higher level of activity after a slow start. Based on the systems currently active and what already appears in the horizon looking east from the Atlantic over equatorial Africa and the Indian ocean, it appears September is gearing up for a new level of tropical cyclone activity.

Color-enhanced infrared GOES satellite view showing Tropical Storm Gabrielle to the soueast of Newfounland, category 4 Hurricane Earl just north of the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, Tropical Storm Fiona aiming for the Leeward Islands, and over to the far right a tropical wave riding along hurricane alley.Color-enhanced infrared satellite view of the eastern Atlantic and equatorial Africa showing at least five tropical waves moving westward toward hurricane alley on 30 August 2010.

 A wider view shows additional tropical activity extending into the Indian Ocean as far back as Indonesia and over into the western Pacific where Typhoon KOMPASU is a category 2 tropical cyclone over the southwestern Ryukyu Islands of Japan, and tropical storms LIONROCK and NAMTHEUN are respectively south of the Ryukyu islands near Taiwan and southwest of Taiwan moving for landfall in mainland China. The composite Global Mosaic below shows a good part of such tropical cyclone activity over the Atlantic, Equatorial Africa and the Indian Ocean.

Global Mosaic, a composite of several satellite pictures, shows tropical cyclone activity and tropical waves over the Atlantic, equatorial Africa and the Indian Ocean. There is plenty of 'tropical fuel' to feed the 'tropical wave assembly line' over equatorial Africa and 'hurricane alley' in the tropical north Atlantic for at least the next two weeks.

The ‘belt’ of tropical weather circling the Earth just north of the equator appears to be firmly in place and fueled by enough activity to last for several days into September. It is interesting to note that two of the currently active systems, Danielle and Earl have both reached category 4 strength, Hurricane Earl went from category 1 to 4 in the span of one day, and Tropical Storm Fiona went from a tropical wave to tropical storm strength in one continuous spur of activity earlier today 30 August 2010. It is clear that conditions overland in tropical equatorial Africa and in the coupled ocean-atmosphere Atlantic environment continue to be favorable for tropical cyclone development and rapid strengthening of new storms.  

Full disk satellite view of Earth's western hemisphere, on 30 August 2010, showing the belt of tropical weather activity just north of the equator that has been in place for several weeks now.