Dennis’ Tidbits


More on hurricanes   

Dennis 5On Wednesday, down in the Eastern Pacific tropics, there’s a very large area of low pressure over and off the coast of Central America. Possible development of a tropical system down there is days away. However, right

now it’s not about the wind, rather the flooding rains over a wide expanse, thus ushering in their 2022 rainy season. There is around a one in three average that a tropical system forms in the month of May. 

Turning our attention to the U.S. Atlantic and Gulf coasts, the nominal hurricane season begins on June 1 and runs until November 30. Early in this season, the western Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico are the principal areas of origin. In July and August, the spawning center begins to shift eastward and by early September, a few storms are born as far east as the Cape Verde Islands off Africa’s west coast. Once again, after around mid-September, most storms begin back in the western Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico where by now, water temps are as high as 90 degrees in some areas. That’s plenty of fuel for some intense storm formation, especially when upper level shear wind has slackened.

In an average year, more than 100 disturbances with hurricane potential are observed in the Atlantic, Gulf and Caribbean. On average only around 12-15 of these reach the tropical storm stage, and only around six to eight mature into hurricanes. An average of three to four become major hurricanes with winds at 111 mph or higher. On the average, two of these hurricanes strike the United States where they are apt to kill 50-100 people from Texas to Maine and cause hundreds of million to billions of dollars in property damage. 

Of course, that number varies from year to year. In a worse than average year, these same storms cause several hundred deaths, like the monster that

hit Galveston, Texas in 1900 where 6,000-12,000 lives were lost. A few storms have caused up to $15 billion in damages. For the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the hurricane season means another hazard from the atmosphere at a time when tornadoes, floods and severe storms are also playing seasonal havoc elsewhere on the continent.

From birth, the hurricane lives in an environment that constantly tries to kill it – and ultimately succeeds. The hurricane tends to survive while it is over warm water at 80 degrees or higher, but its movement is controlled by the forces which drive the storm ashore or to colder waters beyond the tropics. Atlantic storms that reach the East Coast of the United States can make it as far north as places like Nova Scotia thanks to the super warm and elongated Gulf Stream. 

A few systems have made it all the way as high as 46 degrees North Latitude whereas here in the Pacific, most storms weaken considerably by the time they reach as much as 30 degrees North Latitude as the waters of Southern California are too cold to support such a storm. In these non-nourishing environments, the storm will die. This thrust away from the tropics is the clockwise curve which propels hurricanes into the eastern United States. It also takes Eastern Pacific typhoons across the coastlines of Japan and into the Asian mainland. 

Additional information and stats will appear in next Tuesday’s edition of Stu News Laguna. 

Until then, have a wonderful weekend and ALOHA!