The Heart of the Hurricane Season

28 08 2012

By Dale C. S. Destin

Every year, persons across the Caribbean, Central America and the US Gulf and Atlantic Coasts pray for this period to pass quickly with out a hit – the heart of the hurricane season, which covers the period August to October (ASO). For the period 1851 to 2011, Antigua has had 93 named storms and 44 hurricane giving and average per year of 0.6 named storm and 0.2 hurricane for ASO. For Antigua, the heart of the hurricane season is August to September, which accounts for 79% (Aug 34%, Sep 45%) of all storms to affect the island. (http://www.antiguamet.com/Climate/climate_anu_cyclonesbyday.html ). This period has had 83 named storms and 41 hurricane for an average per year of 0.5 hurricane and 0.2 hurricane i.e. one storm every other year and one hurricane every five years.

August 21 and September 3 are very peculiar days for Antigua. These are the two peak days for Antigua for the hurricane season with a record of 7 named storms each to have affected the island on those days from 1851 to 2011. September 3 has produced three hurricanes and August 21 has produced four. (http://www.antiguamet.com/Climate/climate_anu_cyclonesbyday.html ) Two notorious tropical cyclones that have struck on August 21 were Category 3 Unnamed Hurricane of 1871 and Category 3 Hurricane Baker of 1950.

On average, ASO has 8 named storms and 5 hurricanes per year. Historically the period has had 1237 named storms of which 806 became hurricanes – 1851 to 2011 – with August contributing 362 named storms and 230 hurricanes; 80% of all storms (Aug  23%, Sep 37%, Oct 20%) form during the period ASO. This year has been no ordinary year contrary to initial forecasts; so far for August, there have been six named storms and three hurricanes, when the month averages two named storms and one hurricane. The record for named storms for August is eight, observed in 2004. The forecast for the overall season has moved from near – below normal to above normal/active season with a consensus of 14 named storms, 6 hurricanes and 3 becoming major hurricanes; already there has been 10 named storms  and 4 hurricanes. (http://www.antiguamet.com/Climate/HURRICANE_SEASON_FORECAST/2012AtlanticHurricaneSeasonForecastAug28.pdf) looks like we will actually see more than 14 when the season ends November 30. Currently, ENSO Positive conditions (El Nino) is trying to squelch of shut down the hurricane season as is the norm; however, the tropical North Atlantic is warming and other factors such as negative North Atlantic Oscillation (NOA) and Arctic Oscillation are in favour of further warming. Of course, there are other factors to consider but these are some of the main drivers of the hurricane season. What do you think will happen? How many more named storms will we see before the season ends?

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