No more Katrinas

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 1:16 PM GMT on April 07, 2006

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The Hurricane Season of 2005 now has another record--the most number of names ever retired in a season, five. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) announced yesterday that the names Dennis, Katrina, Rita, Stan, and Wilma would all be retired, due to the large loss of life and tremendous property damage these storms inflicted. For 2011, Dennis, Katrina, Rita, Stan and Wilma have been replaced with Don, Katia, Rina, Sean and Whitney, respectively. Since hurricanes were first given names in 1953, 67 names have been retired (the first being Carol and Hazel in 1954). The previous record for most retired names in a year was four in 1955, 1995 and 2004.

There is one rather amazing and ridiculous omission from the list of retired names for 2005--Hurricane Emily. Emily was the earliest-forming Category 5 hurricane on record in the Atlantic basin and the only known hurricane of that strength to occur during the month of July. Emily became a Category 5 hurricane with 160 mph winds and a 929 mb central pressure on July 17 2005, while located 115 miles southwest of Jamaica. The storm weakened somewhat before making landfall on the Mexican coast near Cozumel Island as a Category 4 storm with 135 mph winds and a storm surge of up to 15 feet. Emily went on to cross the Gulf of Mexico and slam ashore on the Mexican coast south of Brownsville, Texas, as a Category 3 hurricane. Emily killed one person on its passage over Grenada as a Category 1 hurricane, and five in Jamaica. Amazingly, no one died in Mexico as a result of Emily's two strikes as a major hurricane.


Figure 1. Emily has come and gone five times, and will be back again in 2011. Arlene, with nine appearances so far, and another scheduled in 2011, holds the record for most incarnations.

From what I understand about the process of retiring a hurricane's name, any country affected by a hurricane can request that a name be retired, and a pow-wow of big shots elected by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) meets to consider these requests and decide which names get retired. Presumably, Haiti did not request that Hurricane Gordon of 1994 get its name retired after it killed over 1100 people there, since the country was too embroiled in civil strife and recovery from the disaster to be concerned with such matters. It is possible that Mexico did not request retiring Emily's name, since Wilma's impact on the country far overshadowed Emily's. Still, what does a storm named Emily have to do to get its name retired? Three of Emily's five appearances have been worthy of retirement. I thought Emily should have been retired when I flew through the 1987 incarnation that slammed into the Hispanolia as a Category 3 hurricane. Certainly, the Category 3 version that brushed North Carolina in 1993 was worthy of retirement, as well. I can only conclude that a dark conspiracy is at work. A member of the WMO name retirement committe must have it in for someone with the name Emily, and is determined that her name never be retired.

Severe weather threat today
Yesterday's tornado outbreak did not materialize as expected, much to the relief of those in the Central U.S. Nineteen reports of tornadoes in Kansa, Oklahoma, and MIssouri were received by the Storm Prediction Center. Most of these tornadoes crossed unpopulated farmland, although damage to several homes and 12 minor injuries were reported in Chetopa, Kansas. Residents of Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, and surrounding states may not be as lucky today. Conditions appear more favorable today for the appearance of violent long-track tornadoes over these states in the late afternoon today.


Figure 2. Severe weather outlook for today.

Jeff Masters

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98. palmettobug53
2:56 PM GMT on April 08, 2006
Gonna be stormy for us later today:Weather Hazards for Chas SC
Member Since: October 7, 2005 Posts: 232 Comments: 24991
96. ForecasterColby
2:00 PM GMT on April 08, 2006
Four inch hail...that's a rock falling at terminal velocity. Ow.
95. seflagamma
12:02 PM GMT on April 08, 2006
Good morning Dr Masters and Weather Folks.

Sure hope today is better than yesterday was as far as the sever thunderstorms, hail, and tornadoes go.

Member Since: August 29, 2005 Posts: 297 Comments: 40882
94. Inyo
7:45 AM GMT on April 08, 2006
yeah i was once caught out in marble sized hail and that is enough for me. i can't even imagine softball size.
Member Since: September 3, 2002 Posts: 42 Comments: 873
93. louastu
5:35 AM GMT on April 08, 2006
The largest hail I have ever seen was probably midway between dime size and nickel size, and I am in no hurry to see anything larger.
91. louastu
5:28 AM GMT on April 08, 2006
I know that it is big. I was being sarcastic.
90. HurricaneMyles
5:25 AM GMT on April 08, 2006
I'd say that's at least baseball size, probably larger. And yes, that's big.
Member Since: January 12, 2006 Posts: 5 Comments: 827
89. louastu
5:25 AM GMT on April 08, 2006
600 severe weather reports.
88. louastu
5:21 AM GMT on April 08, 2006
4 1/4 inch hail...........is that big?
87. Skyepony (Mod)
5:15 AM GMT on April 08, 2006
The storms seem to be calming a little, no tornado reports in nearly the last 2 hours...

The hail is raging on though in mostly AL. Not 45 mins ago 4 1/4" hail in Marshall county AL.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 161 Comments: 37388
86. Skyepony (Mod)
5:07 AM GMT on April 08, 2006
Sayhuh~ I can only speculate from what I've observed as the heat island here has formed & the enviroment that has changed. Before the rampit developement the initial sea breeze developed evenly along the coast, light showers to thunderstorms coming inland parrallel to the coast, somedays it meets with the west coast sea breeze, usally causing thunderstorms or worse. That line can pile up along east coast, west coast or many times in the middle than move back east, west or pound the interior, depending which coast sent the stronger winds.

Once Melbourne was built up, as the seabreeze rolled by (ussually in the mid to late morning), it would have a gap over our developing heat island. I'm not sure but I think Lake Washington (just west of Melb), St Johns river & a lot of swamp to the west plays a roll ~ stong east wind hits extra heat (from the heat island), the clouds rise, then hits the cooler air like a wall perhaps. They do circle back around as they rise. To the south, the clouds curve S back to E, N & W again, just exploding many times before the whole line moved west. The N side of me would do the same thing but spin clockwise while building. We'd get warm wind, sometime blue sky right over head & maybe a little rain.

As the years went by new areas were built N of here, Suntree & Viera. Those areas stopped taking such a beating. Just north of there Cocoa, Rockledge & Titusville have been for a long time & had grown as well. The gap got wider as Mims, just north of Titusville & still rural, now takes a much larger brunt on a regular basis. To the south as Palm Bay has grown they are taking a little less beating (their not quite to the heat island standards of developement obtained here). The brunt has move to the next rural town south, Malabar.

On days that the clash happens with the west coast breeze & moves back this way, if we had no rain earlier, which many times now it the case, we get a beating many times since it's become so hot by late afternoon.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 161 Comments: 37388
85. WSI
4:27 AM GMT on April 08, 2006
The line of storms moving into western NC from eastern TN looks to be weakening somewhat. There is less lightning, and the radar returns are diminishing somewhat.
84. louastu
3:53 AM GMT on April 08, 2006
It was pretty hot in here, so I am very happy.
83. louastu
3:52 AM GMT on April 08, 2006
I just opened my window, and I swear the temperature in my room dropped at least 15 degrees.
82. WSI
3:45 AM GMT on April 08, 2006
It can be found here StSimon...

Severe Weather Outlook
80. louastu
3:44 AM GMT on April 08, 2006
Hurricane Irene was a Cape Verde storm, and TD 19 formed near the Cape Verde Islands.
78. DAVIDKRZW
3:08 AM GMT on April 08, 2006
that is the cool part of the t-storm at night is the lighting show
77. SarahFromFLA
2:58 AM GMT on April 08, 2006
Any of you in Huntsville. I'm watching and hoping family memebers are ok.
Member Since: September 22, 2005 Posts: 2 Comments: 86
76. WSI
2:22 AM GMT on April 08, 2006
Looks like it will be a long night. They are throwing up tornado watches here in NC. The storms are starting to push towards western NC. If you have access to a lightning tracker, the map is quite impressive. Just a wall of lightning hits from Louisiana all the way into VA. A seconday line from Kentucky into PA.
75. newt3d
2:07 AM GMT on April 08, 2006
It's looking like a long night in Huntsville, AL. Of course, the lightning show has been incredibly impressive.
Member Since: October 6, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 90
73. moocrew
1:38 AM GMT on April 08, 2006
opppsss wrong blog.....dang it....
72. moocrew
1:37 AM GMT on April 08, 2006
Wow the south is getting pounded tonight Wab...good thing you didn't get this yesterday....we got a good soaker today...little rumble of thunder but just a nice storm over all...nice to wake up to and drink coffee to...:)
67. globalize
12:14 AM GMT on April 08, 2006
Yes, the heat island thing works much the same way as storms move across Atlanta area, but usually from the opposite direction as melbourne. Convection is usually moving west to east around Atlanta.
Member Since: August 30, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 1150
66. Inyo
12:11 AM GMT on April 08, 2006
On a side note, looks like next week could bring more flooding to California's Central Valley too. Southern California will probably also get some rain but compared to last year the flooding should be minor. (that isnt saying much though)
Member Since: September 3, 2002 Posts: 42 Comments: 873
65. sayhuh
12:11 AM GMT on April 08, 2006
Sky...question...you said "You can watch the clouds blow in & up, splitting in the middle over the city sending a spiral of cloud both north & south of here."

What would cause that split? Heat island? If so..why?
63. louastu
10:47 PM GMT on April 07, 2006
Good, it worked.

Anyway, as you can see it shouldn't be so bad tomorrow.
62. louastu
10:45 PM GMT on April 07, 2006
Hope this works.
61. Skyepony (Mod)
10:42 PM GMT on April 07, 2006
The heat island effect isn't the best example of what will happen when the earth is warmer, since the result is from the temp difference inside & outside the city that causes the instability. Also a heat island effect depends on the surronding enviroment. As Melbourne has been paved & built over, I've watched the effect. Many times when a stiff wind from the east off the ocean is creating our sea breeze showers, the heat island effect inhibits the rain in Melbourne but bring violent storms to the North & south of us. You can watch the clouds blow in & up, splitting in the middle over the city sending a spiral of cloud both north & south of here.

I was afraid today the storms would be worse, now that the low's tail is drawing from the gulf.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 161 Comments: 37388
59. louastu
9:18 PM GMT on April 07, 2006
How do you post pictures?
57. louastu
9:07 PM GMT on April 07, 2006
Look at the tornado probability.

Link
56. seflagamma
8:44 PM GMT on April 07, 2006
Oh no Geeze is in DC today.....
Member Since: August 29, 2005 Posts: 297 Comments: 40882
55. louastu
8:36 PM GMT on April 07, 2006
Nashville is under a tornado warning.
54. louastu
8:06 PM GMT on April 07, 2006
Well, I am now on the borderline of the slight risk and moderate risk.
53. sayhuh
7:53 PM GMT on April 07, 2006
Ok..found an article Link that I think is interesting. Going to the bottom, it decribes urban heat islands and how it could affect boundary-levels.

"Example: the urban boundary layer. Cities exert their own influence on the boundary layer. The Earth-atmosphere interface in a city tends to be drier and rougher than areas of open land. In addition, the nature of man-made building materials means that they tend to respond rapidly to solar heating (G and c). Since the surface is dry, the latent heat flux into the air is small, so energy passes into the boundary layer in the form of sensible heat. This creates the `urban heat island' effect: the city tends to be warmer than the surrounding rural areas. Under low winds, a circulation similar to the sea breeze results, during the day, with cool air entering the city. This may cause pollution to converge on the city region. Under stronger winds, the high roughness length of the urban area causes relatively strong drag, leading to a deflection of the winds to the left (northern hemisphere). Generation of turbulence by the roughness tends to keep the boundary layer well-mixed, which means that a nocturnal inversion, with cold surface temperatures, is less likely to occur in an urban area."

If this is true, and the urban heat island could by the resulting turbulance in a city cause the boundary layer to be well mixed..doesn't that promote the capping effect that could restrict storms from building?

If I am crazy..let me know.
52. globalize
7:41 PM GMT on April 07, 2006
Take a look at the water vapor loop, and the exploding convection. That's heading for DC area in a few hours. Dubya better hunker down!!

http://www.goes.noaa.gov/HURRLOOPS/huwvloop.html
Member Since: August 30, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 1150
51. sayhuh
7:35 PM GMT on April 07, 2006
Michael...cool link showing the effect. Have to look into this more...
50. desertdisaster
7:26 PM GMT on April 07, 2006
Two tornado Vortex north west of crossville 3:25PM

link: http://www.wunderground.com/radar/radblast.asp?ID=OHX&lat=0&lon=0&label=you&type=N0R&zoommode=pan&map.x=400&map.y=240¢erx=400¢ery=240&prevzoom=zoom&num=6&delay=15&scale=1&noclutter=0&showstorms=5&showlabels=1&rainsnow=0&lightning=0
49. gcain
7:04 PM GMT on April 07, 2006
So, let's see if the logic follows...if urban heat islands cause thunderstorms to develop (more severe than normal circumstances) by increasing the air temperature 5 to 8 degrees (over Atlanta for example), then global warming should cause similar increases the severity of weather if the same increase occur....and yet some say no...the logic seems to say otherwise.

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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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