Hurricane Season

2019 Hurricane Season Expected to be Slightly Above Average But Less Active Than Last Year | The Weather Channel

2019 Hurricane Season Expected to be Slightly Above Average But Less Active Than Last Year | The Weather Channel

The 2019 Atlantic hurricane season may be slightly less active than last year, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it will be less dangerous, according to an outlook released Monday by The Weather Company, an IBM Business.

The outlook calls for a total of 14 named storms, seven hurricanes and three major hurricanes.

This is slightly above the 30-year average of 12 named storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes. A major hurricane is one that is Category 3 or stronger on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.

Numbers of Atlantic Basin named storms (those that attain at least tropical or subtropical storm strength), hurricanes and hurricanes of Category 3 intensity forecast by The Weather Company, an IBM Business, compared to the 30-year average and totals from the 2018 season.

(Forecast: The Weather Company, an IBM Business)

Though the official Atlantic hurricane season runs from June through November, occasionally we can see storms develop outside those months. That was the case in the previous two seasons with May 2018’s Tropical Storm Alberto and April 2017’s Tropical Storm Arlene.

(MORE: Hurricane Season Has Started Early 4 Years in a Row)

The Weather Company’s outlook is based on a number of factors, including sea-surface temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean, El Niño and other teleconnections, statistical computer forecast model guidance and past hurricane seasons exhibiting similar atmospheric conditions.

Here are some questions and answers about what this outlook means.

What Does This Mean for the United States? 

There is no strong correlation between the number of storms or hurricanes and United States landfalls in any given season. One or more of the 14 named storms predicted to develop this season could hit the U.S., or none could at all. That’s why residents of the coastal United States should prepare each year no matter the forecast.

The 1992 and 1983 hurricane seasons are visceral examples of why you need to be prepared regardless of the seasonal forecast.

The 1992 season produced only six named storms and one subtropical storm. However, one of those named storms was Hurricane Andrew, which devastated South Florida as a Category 5 hurricane.

In 1983, there were only four named storms, but one of them was Alicia. The Category 3 hurricane hit the Houston/Galveston, Texas, area and caused a severe loss of life.

In contrast, the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season was quite active, with 19 named storms and 12 hurricanes. Despite the large number of storms that year, not a single hurricane and only one tropical storm made landfall in the U.S.

In other words, a season can deliver many storms but have little impact, or deliver few storms but with major impacts.

image
Named storm tracks in the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season. The colors correspond to intensities of each named storm during that section of the track, except for the black sections, which correspond to either a remnant or the time during which a system was a tropical wave before forming into a depression or storm.

The U.S. averages one-to-two hurricane landfalls each season, according to NOAA’s Hurricane Research Division statistics.

The past two hurricane seasons have been particularly destructive.

In 2018, four named storms impacted the U.S. coast, most notably hurricanes Florence andMichael within a month of each other.

Seven named storms impacted the U.S. in 2017. Most notably were hurricanes HarveyIrmaand Maria, which battered Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico, respectively.

(MORE: Three Category 4 Hurricanes Made a U.S. Landfall in 2017)

In 2016, five named storms impacted the southeastern U.S. coast. The most notable of the bunch was Hurricane Matthew, with its powerful scraping of the coast and subsequent inland rainfall flooding.

In the past three seasons, eight hurricanes were so destructive and/or deadly their names were retired from further use by the World Meteorological Organization.

The number of U.S. landfalls had been well below average over the previous 10 years before these seasons.

The 10-year running total of U.S. hurricane landfalls from 2006 through 2015 was seven, according to Alex Lamers, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service. This was a record low for any 10-year period dating to 1850, and considerably lower than the average of 17 per 10-year period dating to 1850, Lamers added.

What’s more, none of the U.S. landfalls from 2006 through 2015 involved major hurricanes.

Bottom line: it’s impossible to know for certain if a U.S. hurricane strike, or multiple strikes, will occur this season. Keep in mind, however, that even a weak tropical storm hitting the U.S. can cause major impacts, particularly if it moves slowly and produces flooding rainfall.

How Much of a Role Will El Niño Play?

One hurricane season ingredient worth watching is El Niño: the periodic warming of the central and eastern equatorial waters of the Pacific Ocean.

A weak El Niño was in place as of mid-April and it’s expected to continue through the summer ahead, possibly even into the fall, according to NOAA. This includes the heart of the hurricane season.

“El Niño conditions are expected to persist or, at worst, slowly weaken over the next six months, which should act to help suppress activity a bit,” said Dr. Todd Crawford, chief meteorologist at The Weather Company.

If El Niño persists over the next month, The Weather Company may lower the hurricane season outlook’s numbers a touch in the next update.

(MORE: The Strange Places We’ve Seen Tropical Cyclones Recently)

Above-average sea-surface temperatures, depicted by the orange shadings above the red arrows, are present over parts of the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean.

(NOAA)

El Niño tends to produce areas of stronger wind shear – the change in wind speed with height – and sinking air in parts of the Atlantic Basin, which are both hostile to either the development or maintenance of tropical cyclones.

With the major exception of Michael, this wind shear was a factor in keeping the Caribbean Sea rather quiet in the 2018 hurricane season, as evidenced by the relative dearth of Caribbean tracks in the 2018 track map above.

image
The effects of El Niño in the Eastern Pacific Ocean, Caribbean Sea and western Atlantic Ocean.

But there are several important caveats to this.

Stronger-than-average wind shear was present in the Caribbean Sea in 2018 without an official El Niño. The wind shear suppressed development in the Caribbean but not elsewhere in the Atlantic.

Any Other Factors in Play?

El Niño is only one of several influences on the atmospheric circulation. Water temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean have a much more direct role in tropical cyclone development on the Atlantic side of North America.

Current water temperatures across the North Atlantic Basin show cooler-than-average waters in the far northern and far eastern Atlantic and in various parts of the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea. Warmer-than-average waters are widespread off the mid-Atlantic and southeastern coasts of the U.S. Water temperatures are generally near average in the eastern tropical Atlantic between the Lesser Antilles and Africa.

April 29, 2019, Atlantic Basin sea-surface temperature anomalies. Warmer-than-average waters, including off the mid-Atlantic and southeastern coasts of the U.S., are shown by the orange and red contours. Colder-than-average waters, including various parts of the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea, are shown by the blue contours. Yellow contours depict waters that are generally near average.

(NOAA)

Crawford noted that sea-surface temperatures in the Atlantic are currently very similar to those observed during the last three years, which were all active hurricane seasons. However, he cautioned that the North Atlantic sea-surface temperature anomalies in April matched Aprils from previous years that went on to have inactive hurricane seasons.

“On the other hand, there is a large pool of warmer-than-normal sea-surface temperatures off the southeastern U.S. coast, which may again help to favor ‘homegrown’ systems that develop closer to the U.S., in a similar manner to 2018,” said Crawford.

Due to these contrasting factors, Crawford admitted this year’s hurricane season outlook is a bit less confident than in previous years.

It isn’t the sea-surface temperature anomalies that allow hurricanes to intensify, however. Rather, it’s the actual heat of the oceans.

Water temperatures of 80 degrees or higher are generally supportive of tropical storm and hurricane formation and development.

Much of the tropics stay at or above this temperature for most of the year.

So why bring it up if favorable conditions are always around?

If sea-surface temperatures in the main development region (MDR) between Africa and the Caribbean Sea are warmer than average, we often get more than the average number of tropical storms and hurricanes from this region. Conversely, below-average sea-surface temperatures can lead to fewer tropical storms than if waters were warmer.

Warmer waters in the MDR allow tropical waves, the formative engines that can become tropical storms, to get closer to the Caribbean and United States.

Dry air and wind shear are two other factors that can be detrimental to tropical storm or hurricane development.

There was prohibitive dry air and/or wind shear during a significant part of the 2013 and 2014seasons, but El Niño was nowhere to be found.

Americans and the Hurricane Season

The Weather Company surveyed 2,200 adults across the United States and gained some interesting insights about Americans and the hurricane season.

-Americans believe the weather has gotten more severe, but four in 10 have no plans to handle an emergency.

-Only 31 percent of Americans said they would always evacuate if ordered to do so.

-Only 16 percent of Americans have a preparedness kit packed in preparation for a severe weather event.

This article provides a list of tips to help you prepare for a hurricane. Some of them could end up saving your life.

Source: 2019 Hurricane Season Expected to be Slightly Above Average But Less Active Than Last Year | The Weather Channel


How To Trim Large Tree Branches

How To Trim Large Tree Branches

By: Julie Day


Nicely healed (and healing) pruning wounds.

If you’re trimming heavy tree limbs, you have to be extra careful not to damage the bark or interfere with the tree’s natural healing response. Doing it right is actually no more difficult than doing it wrong, particularly if you think ahead to how much work it would take to remove a dead tree!

Here’s how to cut large tree limbs in your yard in three simple steps.


Poorly healed wound due to an improper pruning cut.

How Trees Heal

The truth is, trees don’t actually heal like we do. When you cut off a tree branch, the tree forms a special callous tissue (like a scar) that covers over the wound to keep out disease and decay. That scarred part of the tree will be there forever, sealed off so that the rest of the tree can keep growing. It’s very important to prune trees correctly so that we don’t interfere with this process – incorrect pruning will leave the tree weak and vulnerable to disease.

In the top photo, you can see the evidence of several large pruning cuts. The bumps show well healed pruning scars, most of them completely covered over. The “donut” shaped scar is normal, too. The callous tissue grows from the outside edges toward the center, so it’s still in the process of sealing over.


Take the time to do it right.

How to Cut a Tree Limb

Proper pruning of large tree limbs involves three cuts:

    • Cut #1, Notch Cut: Cut a small notch in the bottom of the limb, 2-3 feet away from the trunk, and about a quarter of the way through. This notch will keep the bark from splitting when you make the next cut.
    • Cut #2, Relief Cut: Just outside the notch, make a relief cut completely through the branch. This removes the weight of the branch, so that you can make your final cut without the branch splitting and falling.
  • Cut #3, Final Cut: This is the one that matters! Your final cut should be right where the branch collar (that swollen bump) transitions to smooth branch bark. Follow the slant of the branch collar. If you can’t fit your saw into the crotch at the right angle, then cut it from the bottom up.

Common Tree Trimming Mistakes

    • Cutting the Branch Too Short: We used to think that branches should be cut off flush with the trunk – boy, were we ever wrong! The branch collar is responsible for forming the scar tissue. If you cut into the branch collar, the tree will have a very hard time recovering. When you see rotten holes in tree trunks, or seeping wounds, you’re looking at the aftermath of cutting off the branch collar.

    • Leaving the Branch Too Long: The branch collar on the truck can only do its job of allowing the wound to heal if all of the branch that it has to cover over has been removed while leaving the branch collar itself intact. In the photo on the right, you can see how the branch stubs that were left too long are interfering with and actually preventing the healing process from taking place.

  • Failure to Make the Relief Cuts: If you fail to make the relief cuts and remove most of the weight of the limb before trimming the branch back to the trunk, you run the risk of having the branch split off. This can cause substantial damage to the trunk, as seen in the photo at right. This can make the wound on the trunk susceptible to disease and insect infestation and take much longer to heal.

Thunderstorms & Lightning | Ready.gov

All thunderstorms are dangerous. Every thunderstorm produces lightning. While lightning fatalities have decreased over the past 30 years, lightning continues to be one of the top three storm-related killers in the United States. In 2010 there were 29 fatalities and 182 injuries from lightning. Although most lightning victims survive, people struck by lightning often report a variety of long-term, debilitating symptoms.

Other associated dangers of thunderstorms include tornadoes, strong winds, hail and flash flooding. Flash flooding is responsible for more fatalities – more than 140 annually – than any other thunderstorm-associated hazard. Dry thunderstorms that do not produce rain that reaches the ground are most prevalent in the western United States. Falling raindrops evaporate, but lightning can still reach the ground and can start wildfires.

To prepare for a thunderstorm, you should do the following:

  • Remove dead or rotting trees and branches that could fall and cause injury or damage during a severe thunderstorm.
  • Postpone outdoor activities.
  • Remember the 30/30 Lightning Safety Rule: Go indoors if, after seeing lightning, you cannot count to 30 before hearing thunder. Stay indoors for 30 minutes after hearing the last clap of thunder.
  • Secure outdoor objects that could blow away or cause damage.
  • Get inside a home, building, or hard top automobile (not a convertible). Although you may be injured if lightning strikes your car, you are much safer inside a vehicle than outside.
  • Remember, rubber-soled shoes and rubber tires provide NO protection from lightning. However, the steel frame of a hard-topped vehicle provides increased protection if you are not touching metal.
  • Shutter windows and secure outside doors. If shutters are not available, close window blinds, shades or curtains.
  • Unplug any electronic equipment well before the storm arrives.

Thunderstorms & Lightning | Ready.gov.


Hurricane Preparedness Checklists for Homes

Hurricane Preparedness Tips for Home

Hurricanes can be dangerous, listening to the hurricane warning messages and planning ahead can reduce the chances of injury or major property damage.

BEFORE

Know your Emergency Shelters

Contact the National Disaster Office for the closest shelters.

Have disaster supplies on hand

Flashlight and extra batteries

Portable, battery-operated radio and extra batteries

First aid kit

Non-perishable (canned food) and water

Non-electric can opener

Essential medicines

Cash and credit cards

Sturdy shoes

Protect your windows

Permanent shutters are the best protection. A lower-cost approach is to put up plywood panels. Use 1/2 inch plywood–marine plywood is best–cut to fit each window. Remember to mark which board fits which window. Pre-drill holes every 18 inches for screws. Do this long before the storm.

Trim back branches from trees

Trim branches away from your home and cut all dead or weak branches on any trees on your property.

Check into your Home and Auto Insurance

Confirm that policies are valid and coverage is appropriate.

Make arrangements for pets and livestock

Pets may not be allowed into emergency shelters for health and space reasons. Contact your local humane society for information on animal shelters.

Develop an emergency communication plan

Make sure that all family members know what to do. Teach family members how and when to turn off gas, electricity, and water. Teach children how and when to call police or fire department and which radio station to tune to for emergency information. In case family members are separated from one another during a disaster (a real possibility during the day when adults are at work and children are at school), have a plan for getting back together.

Hurricane Watches and Warnings

A hurricane watch is issued when there is a threat of hurricane conditions within 24-36 hours. A hurricane warning is issued when hurricane conditions (winds of 74 miles per hour or greater, or dangerously high water and rough seas) are expected in 24 hours or less.

DURING A HURRICANE WATCH

Listen to the radio or television for hurricane progress reports.

Check emergency supplies.

Fuel car.

Bring in outdoor objects such as lawn furniture, toys, and garden tools and anchor objects that cannot be brought inside.

Secure buildings by closing and boarding up windows.

Remove outside antennas and satellite dishes.

Turn refrigerator and freezer to coldest settings. Open only when absolutely necessary and close quickly.

Store drinking water in clean jugs, bottles, and cooking utensils.

DURING A HURRICANE WARNING

If you need to evacuate your home, lock up home and go to the nearest shelter.

Take blankets and sleeping bags to shelter.

Listen constantly to a radio or television for official instructions.

Store valuables and personal papers in a waterproof container on the highest level of your home.

Stay inside, away from windows, skylights, and glass doors.

Keep a supply of flashlights and extra batteries handy. Avoid open flames, such as candles and kerosene lamps, as a source of light.

If power is lost, turn off major appliances to reduce power “surge” when electricity is restored.

via Hurricane Preparedness Checklists for Homes.


Hurricane Survival Kit

Hurricane Survival Kit

by Dr. Rick Knabb

Essential Items

During a hurricane, and possibly for days or even weeks afterward, electricity and other utilities might not be available. Debris and/or water might block the roads, preventing vehicles from getting in our out of your neighborhood. Help might not reach you for days after the hurricane, so you’ll need to be completely self-sufficient during that period.

Here are some of the most critical supplies to have on hand, well before a hurricane threatens:

  • At least a 3-day and preferably a 7-day supply of water (one gallon per person per day)
  • Non-perishable food
  • Formula, diapers, and other baby supplies
  • Manual can opener
  • First aid kit
  • Prescription and non-prescription medicines
  • Toiletries
  • Cell phones and battery-powered cell phone chargers
  • Battery-powered radios and flashlights
  • Plenty of batteries
  • Extra cash
  • Blankets, sleeping bags, books, and games (especially if evacuating)

via Hurricane Survival Kit.