Above normal year for tropics, what’s in store for second half?

Hurricane season runs June 1 through Nov. 30 and has so far challenged forecasts calling for a below normal season.

Through today, there have been 10 named storms, 53.5 named storm days, five hurricanes, 16 hurricane days and an accumulated cyclone energy, or ACE, of 81.4.  ACE is a way to measure the strength and duration of storms.

CHECK The Palm Beach Post’s live hurricane tracking map.

A normal season as calculated for years 1981 through 2010, has 7.5 named storms through today, 3.6 hurricanes, 14 hurricane days and an ACE of 63.5.

Data gathered by Colorado State University’s Tropical Meteorology Project.

But much of this year’s activity occurred just last week with Hurricanes Florence, Isaac and Helene. The storms were later joined by Tropical Storm Joyce in the far off Atlantic.

A week ago, the Atlantic basin was abuzz with activity.

RELATED: ‘It was a mad house’: Surfers jam beaches in hope of Florence swells 

Hurricanes Florence, Isaac and Helene spin in the tropical Atlantic on Sept. 10, 2018.

Today, Florence and Joyce have been downgraded to tropical depressions, Helene is history, and the remnants of Isaac are floundering south of Jamaica with only a 10 percent chance of development.

GOES-East image of the Atlantic basin on Sept. 17, 2018

Colorado State University, which issues two-week forecasts for the tropics, has the next two weeks at near-normal activity.

VIDEO: Hurricane hunters find cloud canyon in Florence’s eye

“We had a recent flurry of activity in early to mid-September, bu tthe next two weeks looks to be relativley quiet once the current storms dissipate,” the forecast from Thursday says. 

One reason for a quieter week could be a large plume of Saharan air entering the Atlantic basin.

Saharan dust concentrations are show in yellows and orange.

But AccuWeather forecasters aren’t giving up on Isaac making a comeback in the Gulf of Mexico later this week.

“AccuWeather meteorologists are not suggesting that Isaac will turn into another Harvey, which fell apart entering the western Caribbean then rapidly regained strength while moving across the Gulf of Mexico,” forecasters wrote,

The key, according to AccuWeather hurricane expert Dan Kottlowski, will be in how much wind shear Isaac encounters and whether it can avoid interaction with the Yucatan Peninsula.

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As we enter peak hurricane season, it’s eerily quiet out there…

Harvey was a harmless tropical storm and Irma was still a breeze in Africa as peak hurricane season dawned a year ago in a pulsing Atlantic basin set to detonate.

Ten consecutive hurricanes, including six major storms, stained 2017 with devastating floods in Houston, evacuation horrors in Florida, and months of darkness in Puerto Rico.

It’s different this year.

Although statistics show near normal activity as the heady days of 2018’s peak season arrive — five named storms when the average is three, two hurricanes when one is typical — the creep of an El Niño and a balm of cool water may thwart an atmospheric escalation.

RELATED: Irma was an unstopabble ruin; two things foiled its worst intentions

The hurricane season, which began June 1, is not dead.

Hurricanes Katia, Irma and Jose all spun simultaneously in September 2017.

But experts have characterized it so far as “classic junk” and “season of slop.”

“We’ve had five storms and nobody would probably guess that because none of them have been very significant,” said Chris Davis, a senior scientist and associate director at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. “The development’s been pushed to the margins and hasn’t had time to organize into anything intense.”

Beryl and Chris, the season’s two hurricanes, were short lived and steered clear of land. While Chris reached Category 2 strength briefly, Beryl maxed out at 80 mph and was a hurricane for just longer than a day.

Alberto, Debby and Ernesto all remained tropical or subtropical storms. Subtropical cyclones are spread out, with their strongest winds further from the center and slapdash thunderstorms that don’t always form a continuous doughnut of clouds.

Still, experts said quiet seasons can take radical turns when September arrives.

And Klotzbach is concerned … Find out what the rest of hurricane season may have in store and what one leading forecast is worried most about in the full story on MyPalmBeachPost.com.

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Hurricane Irma crossing the Florida Keys on Sept. 10, 2017.

Hurricane Irma: Think you survived a Cat 4…not even close

Business owners in Palm Beach County had a message for Hurricane Irma. (Greg Lovett/Palm Beach Post)

People bristle in disbelief, even anger, when hurricane center specialist John Cangialosi tells them the truth about Hurricane Irma’s wind speeds.

Many believe they survived much worse during the September tempest, and aren’t keen to hear otherwise.

But only those within about 15 miles of Irma’s fierce eye that made landfall near Cudjoe Key on Sept. 10, 2017 experienced the sting of a Cat 4 hurricane. As the wind field spread and slowed, people at either end of the island chain — Key Largo and Key West — likely felt no more than sustained Category 1 winds.

Hurricane Irma crossing the Florida Keys on Sept. 10, 2017.

In Palm Beach County, where trees toppled and electricity faltered, no sustained hurricane-force winds were measured during Irma, although a 91-mph gust is on record at Palm Beach International Airport. Broward County had one sustained measurement of 76 in Hollywood, just over the Cat 1 threshold.

“Most people get really defensive when you tell them they saw a Cat 1 Irma, not a Cat 4,” said Cangialosi, who was lead author of the National Hurricane Center’s post-mortem on Irma. “I try to say that I know it was bad and I don’t dismiss what they experienced, but they see it as a put down. It’s a very common thing.”

BOOKMARK The Palm Beach Post’s storm tracking map here.

In summers past, when Florida basked in a more than decade-long hurricane drought, the worry at the start of storm season was that “hurricane amnesia” had settled over an unconcerned and ill-prepared Sunshine State.

It’s different this June 1.

Few have forgotten the September assault by Hurricane Irma — the first major hurricane of Cat 3 or higher to hit Florida since Wilma in 2005.

But are the recollections of Irma’s muscle accurate?

RELATED: What’s an invest and why do they keep saying tropical cyclone?

Instead of hurricane amnesia, some emergency managers fear people may be overestimating Irma’s wind speeds, attributing the destruction around them to a power greater than what was felt, and then using that as a base on how to react to future storms that will pack greater fury.

“There are a lot of people in the Keys who think they survived a Cat 4 with Irma, but what we know is that for where they were, it was a Cat 1,” said Monroe County Emergency Manager Martin Senterfitt during the Governor’s Hurricane Conference in May. “They will tell you it was bad, it was scary, it was horrible. Yes, and ….

READ THE REST OF THE STORY ON MYPALMBEACHPOST.COM AND PLAY WITH AN INTERACTIVE MAP OF WIND SPEEDS. 

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Hurricane center increases chances of tropical development to 90 percent

 

Update, 8:00 p.m.: The chance of a tropical system developing in the Gulf of Mexico remains at 90 percent over the next five days, according to The National Hurricane Center.

NHC predicts a subtropical or tropical depression will form this Memorial Day weekend over the southeastern Gulf of Mexico.

Heavy rain and rip currents are the main threats for now.

Original story: The National Hurricane Center has increased the chances that a tropical system will develop in the Gulf of Mexico to 90 percent over five days as an area of storminess southeast of the Yucatan Peninsula becomes better organized.

Forecasters expect a subtropical or tropical depression to form by late Saturday over the southeastern Gulf of Mexico.

If the system develops, it would be named Alberto.

BOOKMARK The Palm Beach Post’s storm tracking map here.

As has been repeated all week, regardless of tropical development, heavy rainfall is expected in South Florida through the weekend.

Jeff Masters, co-founder of Weather Underground, said Invest 90L is moving north at about 5 mph into an area where sea surface temperatures are between 77 and 82 degrees.

RELATED: What’s an invest and why do they keep saying tropical cyclone? 

Typically water temperatures need to be at least 80 degrees for a tropical storm to form.

Masters said models still differ on the exact track and timing of 90L with one pointing to a Saturday development and Sunday landfall in Louisiana, while another develops the system close to Florida on Sunday morning before pushing into Georgia that evening.

“Regardless of development, the counter-clockwise flow of air around this low-pressure system in combination with a very wet tropical air mass will funnel large amounts of tropical moisture over Cuba and the Southeast U.S., resulting in very heavy rains during the coming week,” Masters said.

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Today and Friday will be the driest in the coming days with chances of rain between 40 and 50 percent before that ramps up to 70 percent over the weekend.

National Weather Service meteorologists said details of the weekend forecast are dependent on the track and development of would-be Alberto in the Gulf of Mexico.

Concerns for the weekend include flooding as heavy rainfall piles up on saturated ground.

“Similar to what we experienced last weekend, this type of setup is favorable for training precipitation bands, with the atmospheric profiles suggesting very efficient warm rain processes,” Miami meteorologists said in a morning forecast.

The Weather Prediction Center has South Florida rain totals at above 6 inches over the next seven days.

Seven-day rainfall total through Thursday May 31.

But, there is also a concern about tornadoes with southeast Florida on the more turbulent eastern side of the low pressure system moving through the Gulf.

Weather models are pointing to Saturday evening through Monday as having the largest possibilities for tornadoes.

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Sunfest forecast day 1: Small chance of rain for Mr. Idol

A small chance of rain and temperatures in the high 70s will greet Sunfest goers tonight.

While skies will be partly sunny as Sunfest gates open at 5 p.m., rain chances start to grow at 7 p.m. and hit 30 percent by 8 p.m.

A system stirring near the Bahamas is forecast to move west Friday into Saturday, increasing the rain chances for West Palm Beach to 40 percent Friday night and up to 60 percent Saturday during the day.

CHECK The Palm Beach Post live radar map. 

“Right now, it doesn’t look like a washout,” said Weather Underground co-founder Jeff Masters about the weekend weather. “It will be more hit and miss with periods where there could be a few hours of rain showers.”

SUNFEST 2018: Everything you need to know.

The  headliner tonight is Billy Idol. He takes the Tire Kingdom state at 8 p.m.

Gates on Friday also open at 5 p.m.

“Confidence is a little below average on exactly how much moisture and showers there will be this weekend,” said Andrew Hagen, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Miami. “How this potential system evolves will really determine our rain chances.”

SunFest goes on rain or shine. No refunds or ticket exchanges are offered because of bad weather. Umbrellas, even beach umbrellas, are allowed in the venue.

RELATED: What you should know about the 2018 hurricane season.

In 2013, three days of rain dampened the festivities.

Workers with Harbor Entertainment of Nashville ready an installation for the entrance to the Sunfest Art District Monday morning, April 30, 2018. Drew Dedo, owner of Harbor Entertainment and originally from West Palm Beach, says 180 of the inflatable balls sized from 18 inches to 9 feet in diameter will be installed. (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)

While that’s not expected this year, meteorologists have been watching for potential tropical development from the system near the Bahamas.

Masters said the potential for a sub tropical depression or depression forming by Saturday is about 10 percent. The National Hurricane Center has not identified any areas of concern.

“If this were June, they would probably start tracking it, but the climatology is really against something forming this early,” said Masters about the NHC.

CHECK The Palm Beach Post live radar map. 

Accuweather hurricane expert Dan Kottlowski said he doesn’t see a trigger to spin up a tropical system this weekend, but said the weather pattern is something to pay attention to this time of year.

“Whenever you see an unusual feature like this this time of year, you take note because sea surface temperatures are warm enough,” Kottlowski said.

NEW YORK, NY – MAY 28: Billy Idol attends the 11th Annual Musicares Map Fund Benefit concert at Best Buy Theater on May 28, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images)

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Generators from this posh Palm Beach resort going to Puerto Rico

Two beefy generators that provided reserve power for the opulent Breakers resort in Palm Beach will soon serve a more urgent need in Puerto Rico.

The donated portable powerhouses will ensure reliable running water is pumped to the steep hillside communities in Juana Diaz, where electricity is still spotty seven months after Category 4 Hurricane Maria mangled the island’s electrical grid.

Just a week ago, a nearly island-wide blackout reminded residents of the fragility of the system and unpredictability of the water supply in some rural communities.

RELATED: Unlikely pair bring relief to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria.

“As I speak with you now, I’m without power in Juana Diaz,” said South Palm Beach resident Victor Hernandez, who on Monday was working at one of his hotels on the island. “It’s just non-stop outages, and the reality is, it’s not very reliable.”

Families in Juana Diaz, Puerto Rico, a city on the southern coast of the island, wait for bottled water to be distributed on Sept. 29, 2017. (Thomas Cordy/The Palm Beach Post)

While Hernandez, a native of Puerto Rico, has generators to keep his hotels open, communities in the winding foothills can be without water and in the dark when the power goes out because electricity is needed to run water supply pumps uphill.

Hernandez has been working with the West Palm Beach-based Eagles Wings foundation since October to get relief to communities on the south side of the island far from the capital San Juan.

Scott Lewis, a Palm Beach landscaper and founder of Eagles Wings, helped facilitate the generator donations and shipping. He also had his mechanic give them a tune up.

Scott Lewis, founder of West Palm Beach-based Eagles Wings Foundation, directs a fork truck April 23, 2018 carrying one of two generators that were donated by The Breakers in Palm Beach. The generators are headed to Juana Diaz, Puerto Rico.

“I just wanted to make sure they are all good, not just burned out,” Lewis said. “The power outage last week tells everyone they are still having some significant problems.”

RELATED: My trip to Puerto Rico, Island continues long road back after storms.

The generators offer 150 kilowatts and 80 kilowatts of power. They provided backup electricity to The Breakers’ Golf and Tennis Club, including the Flagler Steakhouse, and the North and South Ocean Towers.

While a decade old, and a little rusty, both were used after Hurricane Irma. Breakers spokeswoman Bonnie Reuben said the generators were replaced as part of ongoing efficiency and performance upgrades.

“We put feelers out to see what we could do with them and if anyone needed them,” said Reuben, who credited Breakers Community Outreach Manager Parisa Leve with the effort. “We knew there was a need in many areas.”

Check The Palm Beach Post live radar.

Hurricane Maria was the fourth major hurricane in a hyperactive season abuzz with powerful storms.

It made landfall on the southeast coast of Puerto Rico on Sept. 20 with maximum winds near 155 mph — just below Category 5 strength.

Maria quickly took down Puerto Rico’s National Weather Service radar tower. The electrical system stood no chance.

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Katherine Waldron, a Port of Palm Beach Commissioner and co-founder of the Palm Beach County Cares coalition, said the group set aside between $15,000 and $20,000 to ship the generators to Puerto Rico and help set them up once there.

Lewis and Hernandez intend to check on the generators in about five weeks to ensure they’re being used appropriately.

“Puerto Rico is still hurting, but the rural areas are even worse because they are harder to get too,” Waldron said. “We’re helping with transportation and set up, but (Lewis) has been the champion spearheading it.”

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BREAKING: Say goodbye to four hurricane names from 2017 season

Four hurricane names have been retired from the devastating 2017 hurricane season, the most since 2005 when five names were banished from the list.

The World Meteorological Organization takes  names off the 6-year rotating list when they have done extensive damage, and would be insensitive to use again. The organization is meeting in Martinique this week.

BREAKING: Above average season forecast for 2018

The 2017 names that will be forever banned from the list include Harvey, Irma, Maria and Nate.

Including these four additions, there have been 86 names retired from the Atlantic basin list since 1954, when storms began to be named.

Replacing those names will be Harold, Idalia, Margot and Nigel. They will appear for the first time in the 2023 list of storm names.

Hurricane Irma was slowed down to a low-end Category 4 hurricane by its rub against Cuba before a Sept. 10 landfall.

Tropical cyclones get monikers based on their basin and names that are familiar in the region. There is a six-year rotating list, with 2018’s names a repeat of 2012.

Hurricane names are selected by the World Meteorological Organization and are usually common names associated with the ethnicity of the basin that would be affected by the storms.

“For example, in the Atlantic basin, the majority of storms have English names, but there are also a number of Hispanic-origin names as well as a few French names,” said National Hurricane Center spokesman Dennis Feltgen during an interview about 2015’s Hurricane Henri. “For the eastern North Pacific basin, the majority of names are of Hispanic origin, as the impacted countries are Mexico, Guatemala, and other nations of Central America.”

Everything you need to know about the hurricane season is on The Palm Beach Post’s Storm 2018 page. 

There are six lists in rotation, which are maintained and updated by the WMO.

There will never be another Hurricane Andrew, after the devastating 1992 Category 5 storm.

Florida City: Gary Davis cradles his chihuahua Boo Boo in front of his mobile home in the Goldcoaster Mobile Home Park the morning after Hurricane Andrew hit overnight in 1992. After his home disintegrated around him, Davis spent the rest of the night in his truck . (Photo by Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)

The 2004 and 2005 seasons saw a whole slew of names retired from the list including, Charley, Frances, Ivan, Jeanne, Dennis, Katrina, Rita, Stan and Wilma.

Hurricane Joaquin is also off the list.  Hurricanes Matthew and Otto were replaced with Martin and Owen after the 2016 season.

Hurricane season runs June 1 through the end of November.

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Names for the 2018 hurricane season include the following:

 

Will a hurricane be named after you this season? 2018 storm names are here

Hurricane season doesn’t start until June 1, but if you’re on the list of 2018 storm names, you may want to prepare for the possibility that a hurricane with your name on it may form up this year.

Tropical cyclones get monikers based on their basin and names that are familiar in the region. There is a six-year rotating list, with 2018’s names a repeat of 2012.

BREAKING: Above average season forecast for 2018

 

Hurricane names are selected by the World Meteorological Organization and are usually common names associated with the ethnicity of the basin that would be affected by the storms.

“For example, in the Atlantic basin, the majority of storms have English names, but there are also a number of Hispanic-origin names as well as a few French names,” said National Hurricane Center spokesman Dennis Feltgen during an interview about 2015’s Hurricane Henri. “For the eastern North Pacific basin, the majority of names are of Hispanic origin, as the impacted countries are Mexico, Guatemala, and other nations of Central America.”

Everything you need to know about the hurricane season is on The Palm Beach Post’s Storm 2018 page. 

There are six lists in rotation, which are maintained and updated by the World Meteorological Organization.

Hurricane Joaquin, Oct. 2 2015

A name can be removed from the list if a storm hits and is particularly deadly or costly.

For example, there will not be another Hurricane Andrew, after the devastating 1992 Category 5 storm. And the 2004 and 2005 seasons saw a whole slew of names retired from the list including, Charley, Frances, Ivan, Jeanne, Dennis, Katrina, Rita, Stan and Wilma.

Hurricane Joaquin is also off the list.  Hurricanes Matthew and Otto were replaced with Martin and Owen after the 2016 season.

Hurricane season runs June 1 through the end of November.

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BREAKING: Above normal hurricane season forecast

A leading hurricane forecast is calling for a slightly above average storm season with 14 named storms, 7 hurricanes and 3 major hurricanes.

The prediction from Colorado State University’s Tropical Meteorology Project was released this morning at the National Tropical Weather Conference in San Antonio.

Colorado State University 2018 hurricane season forecast

It follows at least two other forecasts made this month calling for a near average to above average hurricane season.

RELATED: Will a hurricane be named after you this season? 2018 names are here.

An average season has 12 named storms, 6 hurricanes and 3 major hurricanes.

RELATED: 2017 hurricane season brutal, deadly

The hyperactive 2017 hurricane season had 17 named storms, 10 hurricanes and 6 major hurricanes.

The federal Climate Prediction Center will release its hurricane forecast in late May.

Everything you need to know about the hurricane season is on The Palm Beach Post’s Storm 2018 page. 

CSU’s April forecast is a much-anticipated annual event because it’s typically one of the first forecasts of the year and is possibly the longest running. It was started in 1984 by William Gray, who passed away in 2016.

Hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach, who was mentored by Gray, is now the lead author of the report.

Klotzbach said the forecast was largely based on a prediction that El Niño will not appear this summer or fall, with the atmosphere instead transitioning to neutral from a current weak La Niña event.

LIVE RADAR: Check The Palm Beach Post’s radar map

The CSU forecast also considers the probability of hurricanes making landfall. According to today’s prediction, there is a 72 percent chance that a named storm will hit an area that includes Florida’s coastline and the east coast. The average is 61 percent.

The probability of a major hurricane – Category 3-5 – will hit the same region is 39 percent, compared to an average of 31 percent.

“We anticipate a slightly above-average probability for major hurricanes making landfall along the continental U.S. coastline and in the Caribbean,” the CSU forecast notes.

RELATED: Ten things to know about El Nino.

Hurricanes Katia, Irma and Jose all spun simultaneously in September 2017.

He acknowledges early predictions are notoriously low in confidence. CSU’s 2017 April prediction fell far from target because it anticipated the formation of a summer El Niño that never roared.

El Niño is typically associated with slower hurricane seasons, while La Niña tends to encourage hurricanes.

“Typically in the Atlantic, El Niño is our friend because it increases upper level winds and that increases shear,” Klotzbach said.

The hurricane season begins June 1 and runs through Nov. 30.

“I try to emphasize that June and July are part of the hurricane season but they are generally pretty quiet,” Klotzbach said. “Then August comes around and people think the season is a dud. It’s important to remind everyone June and July are normally quiet.”

AccuWeather is forecasting between 12 and 15 tropical cyclones this season. Of those, it expects 6 to 8 to become hurricanes and 3 to 5 to grow into major hurricanes.

Similar to last year, sea surface temperatures are expected to remain warmer than normal across most of the basin and normal to above normal over the main developmental region, where more than 85 percent of all tropical storms form, according to AccuWeather.

“The thing that’s causing the balance to tip in one direction [this year] is that sea surface temperatures are warmer than normal,” said AccuWeather senior meteorologist Dan Kottlowski.

According to Kottlowski, conditions are ripe for early season development in the Gulf of Mexico due the warm water already in place in that part of the Atlantic basin.

Please check back for more on this breaking news story. A more detailed article will appear in The Palm Beach Post and MyPalmBeachPost.com Friday.

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Some state officials want “shadow evacuees” to stay home next hurricane

Category 5 Hurricane Irma begins to impact the northern Leeward Islands won Sept. 5, 2027

An estimated 6.8 million Floridians evacuated for Hurricane Irma. Some did so twice.

Subtle shifts in the storm’s path sent the east coast scurrying west, then fleeing north where landlocked Leon County ran out of hotel rooms and filled 10 shelters with people, half of whom were from other parts of the state.

Gridlock on Florida’s Turnpike meant a 20-hour trek into Georgia as lines of cars jockeyed to escape the Sunshine State, crushing traffic like an accordion against the border where driving on the shoulder was no longer allowed.

But Florida officials said about 3 million of those who left were not in evacuation zones.

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These so-called “shadow evacuees” may be encouraged to ride out the next storm at home in an effort to minimize traffic, extend gas supplies and increase available rooms at the inn.

It’s a nuanced message of emergency — “know your zone, know your home.”

Related: Do you know your evacuation zone? Look it up here.

In other words, if you’re not in an evacuation zone, can your home withstand the forecast winds? And if it can, can you withstand what comes after the storm?

Is it fair to ask some people to stay put during the storm? Read more about the issue in the full story at MyPalmBeachPost.com. 

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