December 2, 2010
Hurricanes are notoriously difficult to predict, but this year Weather Services International (WSI) made it look easy. As the 2010 hurricane season officially ended on Nov. 30, WSI announced a near-perfect tropical forecast record. Earlier this year, in May, WSI predicted a total of 18 named tropical storms, 10 hurricanes, and five major hurricanes. As it turned out, there were 19 named tropical storms, 10 hurricanes, and five major hurricanes.
The 2010 numbers were well above both the long-term (1950 to 2009) averages of 10 named storms, six hurricanes, and two intense hurricanes, and the more active, recent 15-year period (1995 to 2009) average of 14/8/4.
“After a relatively slow start, the 2010 tropical season ended with a bang, validating our rather extreme forecasts,” said Dr. Todd Crawford, WSI’s chief meteorologist. “A combination of incredibly warm tropical Atlantic sea surface temperatures along with relatively light wind shear because of a rapidly developing La Nina event enabled this very active season. The lack of hurricane landfalls in the United States was because of a combination of good fortune and an unusually persistent pattern in the North Atlantic, which consistently helped to steer hurricanes away from the eastern U.S. coast.”
WSI’s first look at the 2011 tropical season will be issued on Dec. 22.
Weather and Seasons,
Thunderstorms didn’t get their fearsome reputation just from the extreme conditions a pilot can encounter by stumbling into, or too close to one. The reputation also hints at the speed at which thunderstorms can grow from puffy cumulus clouds into giant, opaque cumulonimbus.
A single thunderstorm can contain almost every weather-related hazard to pilots--high winds, limited visibility, hail, microbursts, and icing just to name a few. The Air Safety Institute just completed Storm Week, its weeklong education campaign to raise awareness of thunderstorms. Now is the perfect time to hold a club safety seminar and utilize the many ASI tools to help understand how ATC and weather briefers can steer you clear of the storms or help pilots make the decision to stay on the ground.
If a VFR pilot’s worst nightmare is to blunder into solid clouds, armed only with basic instrument flying skills, a similarly scary scenario awaits the instrument pilot who bets on sneaking through a stormy sector, and loses.