Sunday, May 27, 2012

Memorial Day Weather: Beryl, Bud, fires, and heat

In last night's Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (Dragon docks with ISS edition) on Daily Kos, I included the following story with my opinion about the prediction.

Houston Chronicle: NOAA issues forecast, calls for ‘near-normal’ Atlantic hurricane season
By Eric Berger
May 24, 2012
This morning NOAA issued its hurricane outlook for the 2012 season, suggesting a near-normal hurricane season is most likely.

Federal hurricane scientists predict:
  • 9-15 Named Storms,
  • 4-8 Hurricanes
  • 1-3 Major Hurricanes

The median number of named storms — that’s tropical storms and hurricanes — that have formed during Atlantic hurricane seasons since 1980 is 12, with 6.5 hurricanes and 2 major hurricanes.

The reasons for the near-normal prediction are pretty straightforward: sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic, in contrast to most recent years, are relatively cool in some regions where tropical storms develop, and there’s the potential for the development of El NiƱo later in the season.
I'd bet on the high side of those predictions, especially for named storms, as we are already on the second storm on both coasts, Bud in the Pacific and Beryl in the Atlantic.

The very next day, Berger noted the unusual early activity in Subtropical Storm Beryl forms: Very rare to have two pre-June storms, which he concluded with:
What is more notable about Beryl is that it’s this season’s second named storm to develop prior to June 1. Alberto formed on May 19 in a similar region.

It joins rare company. There have only been two Atlantic seasons on record in which two tropical storms developed before June 1st. They came in 1887 and 1908.

So it’s been awhile.
Hurricane season officially begins on June 1st, but I'd say Nature has decided that it's been hurricane season for a couple of weeks, regardless of the official pronouncement.

For those of you who want visuals, click on "Read more."

Here are two videos showing Beryl from space. The first one is a rip of a webcast from WSAV NBC 3 in Savannah, GA, with color images of the storm using infrared and radar, the local forecast, and the presenter herself (if you want a better view of her, here is a link to a video that I find more flattering).

This next one is a loop of the visual light images posted just a few hours ago. The visuals and narration are repetitive, but worth watching for at least the first minute to get a good idea of what Beryl looks like now and how extensive and well-organized it is.

The storm is headed directly toward Jacksonville. The mayor has already declared a state of emergency, which the following video from the AP shows.

There is a silver lining to the storm. Its rain might put a stop to the wildfires being shown in this clip from ITN.

Then again, it might not. The storm might pass just north of I-4, where these fires are burning.

For a total picture of the weather over the U.S. this weekend, check out this video from ABC News, which unfortunately won't embed. It also shows the effects of Hurricane Bud in the Pacific, the wildfires in the Four Corners area, and the record heat wave in the south and midwest.

As I've written before, weather isn't climate, but with weather like this, one should wonder.

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