NOAA's End Game on the 2010 Hurricane Season

NOAA press release below, gotta love the word “onslaught” added for dramatic effect. I’m sure Ryan Maue’s end season summary of hurricane ACE (Accumulated Cyclone Energy) for the 2010 will be forthcoming soon. – Anthony

Extremely Active Atlantic Hurricane Season was a ‘Gentle Giant’ for U.S.

NOAA’s Prediction for Active Season Realized; Slow Eastern Pacific Season Sets Record

November 29, 2010

Hurricanes Karl, Igor and  Julia.

Hurricanes Karl, Igor and  Julia  (from left to right on Sept. 16) were part of the onslaught of Atlantic storms this season. 

Download here (Credit: NOAA)

According to NOAA the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season, which ends tomorrow, was one of the busiest on record. In contrast, the eastern North Pacific season had the fewest storms on record since the satellite era began.

In the Atlantic Basin a total of 19 named storms formed – tied with 1887 and 1995 for third highest on record. Of those, 12 became hurricanes – tied with 1969 for second highest on record. Five of those reached major hurricane status of Category 3 or higher.

These totals are within the ranges predicted in NOAA’s seasonal outlooks issued on May 27 (14-23 named storms; 8-14 hurricanes; 3-7 major hurricanes) and August 5 (14-20 named storms; 8-12 hurricanes; 4-6 major hurricanes). An average Atlantic season produces 11 named storms, six hurricanes and two major hurricanes.

2010 track map for the Atlantic Basin.

2010 track map for the Atlantic Basin. 

Download here (Credit: NOAA)

Large-scale climate features strongly influenced this year’s hurricane activity, as they often do. This year, record warm Atlantic waters, combined with the favorable winds coming off Africa and weak wind shear aided by La Niña energized developing storms. The 2010 season continues the string of active hurricane seasons that began in 1995.

But short-term weather patterns dictate where storms actually travel and in many cases this season, that was away from the United States. The jet stream’s position contributed to warm and dry conditions in the eastern U.S. and acted as a barrier that kept many storms over open water. Also, because many storms formed in the extreme eastern Atlantic, they re-curved back out to sea without threatening land.

“As NOAA forecasters predicted, the Atlantic hurricane season was one of the most active on record, though fortunately most storms avoided the U.S. For that reason, you could say the season was a gentle giant,” said Jack Hayes, Ph.D., director of NOAA’s National Weather Service.

Other parts of the Atlantic basin weren’t as fortunate. Hurricane Tomas brought heavy rain to earthquake-ravaged Haiti, and several storms, including Alex, battered eastern Mexico and Central America with heavy rain, mudslides and deadly flooding.

2010 track map for the eastern North Pacific Basin.

2010 track map for the eastern North Pacific Basin. 

Download here (Credit: NOAA)

Though La Niña helped to enhance the Atlantic hurricane season, it also suppressed storms from forming and strengthening in the eastern North Pacific. Of that region’s seven named storms this year, three grew into hurricanes and two of those became major hurricanes. This is the fewest named storms (previous record low was eight in 1977) and the fewest hurricanes (previous record low was four in 1969, 1970, 1977 and 2007) on record since the satellite era began in the mid-1960s. An average eastern North Pacific season produces 15 named storms, nine hurricanes and four major hurricanes.

NOAA’s National Weather Service is the primary source of weather data, forecasts and warnings for the United States and its territories. NOAA’s National Weather Service operates the most advanced weather and flood warning and forecast system in the world, helping to protect lives and property and enhance the national economy. Visit us online at weather.gov and on Facebook.

NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth’s environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Visit us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/usnoaagov.

h/t to Chris Horner

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59 thoughts on “NOAA's End Game on the 2010 Hurricane Season

  1. When was this “onslaught” that I missed? 100 years ago, since nothing landed in the US, we would have assumed there were no hurricanes at all that formed…

  2. Yep, not even a strong breeze in SWFL … Except that coming from NOAA and the weather channel.
    I have my own hurricane forecasting, and I say the cold fronts chased the hurricanes away. It was like watching a ping pong game.
    If the data doesn’t fit, make it up.

  3. That’s like the sunspot number where specs qualify as sunspots… in the case of “named” hurricanes, as soon as they saw a cloud twirl, they gave a name. It’s easy to win when you control the game.

  4. Mostly drama and very little damage. The mission is to predict storms and as predicted, the predictions were off.
    2010 will go on the record as a season we experienced an onslaught of guessing that missed the mark.

  5. The jet stream’s position is “short-term weather”?
    Riiiggght.
    Anyhow, it’s global cooling that maximizes storm activity. This whole discussion is bolloxed.

  6. I guess it should be noted that although no hurricanes hit the US, hurricane igor laid quite a pounding on newfoundland, Canada causing about 100 million dollars in damage.

  7. “In the Atlantic Basin a total of 19 named storms formed – tied with 1887 and 1995 for third highest on record. Of those, 12 became hurricanes – tied with 1969 for second highest on record.”
    Nice apples to oranges comparisons. And the non-existent satellites counted everyone of the storms in 1887 and 1969. So very tiresome.

  8. Mostly a question of the Bermuda high failing to connect to the Azore`s high and set up a steering pattern that would have taken a lot of those E thru J storms into the US gulf and eastern seaboard.
    Climatology had storms going in all kinds of places (on a projected (by models) track map, climatology is often wayyyyyyyy off the actual and/or expected path as that depends on current WEATHER)
    Bring Earl, Igor and Julia onto land in the US and it would have been fugly. NOAA is doing their best to not take the hit for us not taking the hit. Things tend to even out and in a year of global `quiet` on the tropical cyclone front, the Atlantic basin was a hornet`s nest compared to the rest of the world.

  9. ACE?, where do they accumulate all that energy?, Was it not that it was accumulated in that poisonous gas CO2 “piggy bank”?. Wonder if it needs a bailout too.

  10. I’m not sure that the criticisms of NOAA wrt the Atlantic basin are fully justified. Direct number comparisons with earlier years may indeed be inappropriate, as James Sexton points out, but there clearly were a significant number of storms. The major factor for the US was that they stayed at sea. With past studies having shown that Atlantic basin storm activity reaching the US coast tends to be higher in cooling periods, the US should be expecting storms over the next couple of decades. This year the storms did indeed exist, but for some reason didn’t keep going west. In the next few years, who knows? The US might not be so lucky.

  11. James Sexton says:
    November 29, 2010 at 11:39 am
    “So very tiresome.”
    I agree! Just because they “named” a storm doesn’t mean the storm deserved a name e.g. Bonnie, Fiona, Gaston, Nicole, …
    I, too, look forward to Ryan Maue’s ACE report, which should cast the 2010 season in a more realistic light…

  12. I just thank God every day for the grand solar minimum that will teach these schmucks a lesson they will never forget. Those puny little humans do not control the earth’s weather. It’s the sun stupid.

  13. Rick Caird says: wrote
    November 29, 2010 at 11:59 am
    “I am confused. In 2005, Wilma was the 22nd named storm.”
    That was the year they had to start the alphabet over again because they ran out of letters or they went to a numbering system or something like that.

  14. Brian H says:
    November 29, 2010 at 11:33 am
    Anyhow, it’s global cooling that maximizes storm activity. This whole discussion is bolloxed.

    I vaguely recall that hurricane frequency was higher in the Little Ice Age.
    http://tinyurl.com/27pfvv4
    http://tinyurl.com/2daeb9o
    http://tinyurl.com/2vy5x57
    http://www.co2science.org/subject/h/summaries/hurratlancent.php
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/10/13/klotzbach-and-gray-final-2010-two-week-hurricane-forecast/#comment-506217

  15. Shouldn’t there be a size requirement for a storm to be called a hurricane? Several of them this year were about the size of Lake Okeechobee (see the photo in the story header) or completely indestinguishable as an organized storm of any size. Additionally, I saved a number of the east satellite shots where “hurricanes” were simply not distinguishable from the front that was moving through at the time or just appeared to be a disorganized cloud formation with no visible rotation at all. See East Vis for 22 Oct 10 and East Vis for 29 Oct 10 and East Vis for 5 Nov 10 and East Vis for 7 Nov 10 as examples.

  16. Why don’t they just add up the cumulative power of all the named storms as to size and strength on some kind of Fugita like scale? 2005 would get something like 100 to the 10th power and 2010 would get 100 to the 5th power or something like that.

  17. Yeah, well. We were predicted to have tornado’s and flash flooding here today. Got a little ( and I mean a little), rain. It’s all hype to sell advertising. End of story.

  18. Agree w Frank K above. Many of those named storms should never have qualified as such. NOAA were a little trigger-happy in those cases, striving to hit their targets.
    That’s why ACE is a much better metric, looking forward to Dr Maue’s analysis …..

  19. A named or unnamed hurricane or tropical storm is meaningless. The total energy of those depressions would be a better measure. But that alone would not show the real picture. We would also need to put numbers on high pressure windless areas and see which side was more active… high or low pressure fronts?

  20. Well, we’ve had a 30 year half cycle of warming that’s been putting energy into the oceans, and now we’ve started into the 30 year half cycle of cooling (as of about 1999/2000) so it will take a while for storms to suck that heat out of the oceans and dispose of it to the upper atmosphere and space. ( a 60 or so year total cycle, plus or minus a few years).
    I would expect a lot of convective activity during the early part of that cycle, and a lot of rain… rather like we had in Mexico / Latin America recently.
    That the storms are being steered out to sea and up north is the interesting bit to me.
    Reminds me of what it was like 40 to 50 years ago… Then we had more hurricanes hitting places like New York City and Rhode Island. Hmmm…. wonder if that was the same part of the 60+ year cycle as now… and if we can look forward to fewer Florida and Texas hurricanes and more NYC ?…
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_England_Hurricane_of_1938
    Lets see, that’s about the time the last hot cycle was ending ( 1934 )…..
    Just saying…

  21. I think I’ll wait for Ryan to come out with the ACE index before I give a harrumph or a hurrah. The ACE, not the count, tells you whether or not to get your undies in a bunch.
    In this satellite era, so long as the criteria for slapping a name on a storm are applied consistently, I’ve no quarrel with the count. However, I do wish there was an asterisk in the books for the new satellite-enhanced records; something like they have in sports when there was a rule or equipment change.

  22. Hmmm… part two:
    http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/HAW2/english/history.shtml#carol
    If you look at the 40’s to ’50s there were a few in a row hitting up the east coast.
    1944 had The Great Atlantic Hurricane.
    1954 had Carol and Edna, followed by Hazel
    1955 had Connie and Diane
    an interesting list of notable ‘canes all going up the East Coast while leaving Florida and Texas to the small stuff. Then, in 1957 Audry hit Texas and in 1960 Donna ran over Florida – but then proceeded right up the coast to New England…
    Only in 1969 (near the end of the cooling ice age scare 1/2 cycle) does the list turn to largely Florida and Texas events, holding that pattern until, well, 1999 with Floyd. Almost like something of importance flipped in 1999. Just saying…
    I think if I lived on the East Coast on the shore I’d look to sell and move inland now…
    And Florida looks like a reasonable time to buy…

  23. Mike Jonas says:
    November 29, 2010 at 12:10 pm
    I’m not sure that the criticisms of NOAA wrt the Atlantic basin are fully justified. Direct number comparisons with earlier years may indeed be inappropriate, as James Sexton points out, ….
    =======================================================
    Mike, thanks for the acknowledgment, it’s appreciated. However, when NOAA makes statements such as “tied with 1887 and 1995 for third highest on record.”, we know this is completely disingenuous. And intentionally so.
    “NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth’s environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun,…”
    No where in the mission statement do I see “to attempt to manipulate the public’s perception of weather occurrences to bring them to an inaccurate assessment of current climate conditions.”

  24. LearDog says: “Agree w Frank K above. Many of those named storms should never have qualified as such. NOAA were a little trigger-happy in those cases, striving to hit their targets.”
    Targets? What targets? You mean those broad-side-of-a-barn “seasonal outlooks?”
    “14-23 named storms; 8-14 hurricanes; 3-7 major hurricanes” Jeesh.
    A lot like predicting that the UCLA / USC game will end with either USC or UCLA winning. Not a whole lot of predictive skill with a range that big. Laughable, actually.

  25. jorgekafkazar says:
    November 29, 2010 at 1:02 pm
    That’s what I was about to say. I garantee that next year there will be 1 to 30 storms forming in the atlantic all of which will pass near or over the USA, Mexico or the Cariabean

  26. I recall someone’s getting riled with me when I scoffed at putting a hurricane label on a 30-40 mph blow-up. Heck, most weeks in Oklahoma, we have days with winds (gusts, anyway) that high. When you’re used to tornado wind speeds, it’s hard to get excited about 2-digit wind speeds – at least, when they’re less than 50 or 60. Around 60 mph, you start trying to remember if you’ve tied down (or brought in) the loose stuff in your yard, or at least written your house number on your trash cans.
    On another angle, after I noticed the big, honking solar flare not long before Katrina got big, then I noticed hurricanes became less numerous and less severe after we got well into the current solar minimum. It sure looks like solar activity has _something_ to do with how the hurricane season goes.

  27. Sitting here on the Treasure Coast of Florida where we haven’t been hit in 5 years and the previous hit was 80 years before that. And yet our insurance rates continue to rise and the AGW crowd continues to scream….

  28. James Sexton – nicely put. I was really only issuing a caution against slamming NOAA simply because few storms hit the US. Some of NOAA’s language and attempts to talk things up are not defensible. “Gentle” giant?? Only because the giant happened not to call in.

  29. Despite the number of storms they managed to name, total ACE was running considerably below average pretty late in the season. ACE is a far better measure of the intensity of a storm year and it’s been trending downward in recent years.

  30. Ah, maybe they’re hoping a big ‘un hits NYC, so they can point to the “sea level” recorded while a low low pressure eye was surging at high tide and claim the rise.
    Seriously, I shouldn’t be but I am amazed. Really? Hyping this hurricane season? Is that wise?
    A few more of these things, and even the most vacuous fool will realize there’s nothing out of the ordinary…

  31. This is plain silly. Hawaii was not even threatened. As for the Atlantic, most of the storms were only satellite visible or hitting the Islands. It was an active year for typhoons, though.
    Why does NOAA bother trying to suppress good news?

  32. #
    If the data doesn’t fit, make it up.
    #
    Ray says:
    November 29, 2010 at 11:29 am
    That’s like the sunspot number where specs qualify as sunspots… in the case of “named” hurricanes, as soon as they saw a cloud twirl, they gave a name. It’s easy to win when you control the game.
    ———————————————-
    Yes, and I understand they colluded with the Air Force planes to get false wind readings, and with the European Space Agency to generate fake satellite images.
    Hm, what does Maue say — http://www.coaps.fsu.edu/~maue/tropical/atlantic.html
    Can’t understand a word… Ah, here, looks about 160% of normal:
    2010 Northern Hemisphere Tropical Cyclone Activity: ACE
    Updated Nov 30, 2010
    Basin Current YTD Climo YTD Calendar Year
    North Atlantic 169.688 101 103
    2010 Tropical Cyclones of the World
    North Atlantic
    Name Max Wind ACE
    Alex 85 7.3725
    TD02 30 0.0
    Bonnie 35 0.49
    Colin 50 2.6375
    TD5 30 0.0
    Danielle 115 21.805
    Earl 120 27.9525
    Fiona 55 3.2475
    Gaston 35 0.3675
    Hermine 55 1.3725
    Igor 135 42.7975
    Julia 115 14.47
    Karl 105 6.0375
    Lisa 70 4.2
    Matthew 50 1.3
    Nicole 35 0.1225
    Otto 75 6.6125
    Paula 85 7.0725
    Richard 80 4.735
    Shary 65 2.4575
    Tomas 85 11.835

  33. So it seems that with the naming of wimpy short-lived storms, they managed to beat Dr. Hansimian’s prediction of 6-8 named storms. Knew there must have been a valid reason. 😉

  34. Why do scientists have no common sense whatsoever? What we want to know is the history of the hurricane season for the USA. We are the audience. Why do the scientists choose not to serve us? They should be reporting a USA hurricane season. It would include all hurricanes making landfall in the USA. If they want other reports, let them make other reports. But give us our USA hurricane report.

  35. I think people are overlooking the obvious … Insurance rates are calculated on named storms. So someone has their thumb on the scale for a reason, drive up insurance costs.

  36. Targets? What targets? You mean those broad-side-of-a-barn “seasonal outlooks?”
    “14-23 named storms; 8-14 hurricanes; 3-7 major hurricanes” Jeesh.
    A lot like predicting that the UCLA / USC game will end with either USC or UCLA winning. Not a whole lot of predictive skill with a range that big. Laughable, actually.
    ————————————————————————————–
    Exactly. How many hurricane seasons were outside of those ranges? Not many I’m guessing.

  37. They appear to be inadvertently comparing the 2010 hurricane season to those of a couple of very cool periods that sparked concerns about an impending ice age. And they may be unwittingly right.

  38. Theo Goodwin makes an excellent point. And before satellite images showing off-shore storms, how did the USA count hurricanes anyway?

  39. clearscience says:
    November 29, 2010 at 11:34 am
    I guess it should be noted that although no hurricanes hit the US, hurricane igor laid quite a pounding on newfoundland, Canada causing about 100 million dollars in damage.
    ————————————-
    Without disputing the “pounding”, I’ll suggest that Igor was a post-tropical storm at land-fall in NF, not a hurricane. Just so’s the science is clear.

  40. Steve from Rockwood says:
    November 29, 2010 at 6:31 pm
    “Theo Goodwin makes an excellent point. And before satellite images showing off-shore storms, how did the USA count hurricanes anyway?”
    Just to be clear we’ve had weather satellites taking pictures almost continually since 1960. A couple small gaps in coverage when a satellite failed prematurely and a replacement wasn’t sitting on the launch pad ready to go.
    Indeed in 1974 one of several sophisticated (for the time) pieces of weather gear I was trained to repair in the military was a satellite facsimile receiver. I believe it was almost an antique by that time as the electronics were vacuum tubes. I can still hear in my mind the audio tone the satellite transmitted that drove the current in a wire which swept across chart roll paper which had embedded temperature sensitive chemicals that turned brownish-red when heated.
    Before that ships at sea and aircraft were doing the monitoring but were more trying to avoid the storms than measure them. The record is considered fairly consistent back to about 1950.

  41. The NOAA piece compares the activity this year to previous years:
    “In the Atlantic Basin a total of 19 named storms formed – tied with 1887 and 1995 for third highest on record.”
    This kind of comparison is a BIG no-no, however: nobody in their right mind who knows the storm data would ever compare named storm numbers back that far.
    If you remove the Tiny Tims/Baby Whirls, this season doesn’t look so big after all, in terms of the number of storms. Those have risen rapidly in recent years from almost nothing in the past, and that trend is almost certainly an artifact of incomplete early records.
    Landsea, C. W., G. A. Vecchi, L. Bengtsson, and T. R. Knutson, Impact of duration
    thresholds on Atlantic Tropical cyclone counts, Journal of Climate, 23, 2508–2519,
    2010.
    Villarini, G., G. A. Vecchi, T. R. Knutson, and J. A. Smith, Is the Recorded Increase in Short Duration North Atlantic Tropical Storms Spurious? Geophysical Research Letters, submitted 2010

  42. Numbers of storms means nothing. Accumulated energy (ACE) means everything.
    Using the number of storms is like measuring rainfall by counting the number of days it rains (as opposed to measuring the amount of rain itself).
    This is grade-school comprehension, NOAA.

  43. Looks like, if Maue’s current figure of 169.688 holds up as the seasonal total, this year will come in 12th in N. Atlantic ACE over the last 61 years (1950-2010), but only 29th in ACE/storm (8.42). Igor alone accounted for over 1/4 the total N. Atlantic ACE this season.
    The other basins (except the Indian Ocean) mostly look low, though. Rounding off:
    North Atlantic – 170; normal 106
    E. Pacific – 51; normal 132
    W. North Pacific – 119; normal 310
    N. Indian – 33; normal 21 (calculated)
    S. Hemisphere (2009-10) – 196; normal 204
    Total all basins – 569; normal 773
    Sources: Dr. Maue’s page, and a copy of an August 8 2010 update of Dr. Maue’s page on this site.

  44. Named storms don’t mean anything, they are name everything. ACE is what should be looked at. According to Accuweather the ACE for 2010 was the 13th highest since 1950. That’s nothing I’m going to panic about.

  45. Aha! Just as they predicted!
    …er, no, actually they have said that global warming would bring FEWER hurricanes but of LARGER magnitude (thus, MORE damage).
    ‘course, if you predict basically everything and anything might occur, then anything that happens confirms your prediction. I’m sure somewhere someone at NOAA predicted a larger number of storms but with reduced effects….

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