Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Dangers of a Quiet Hurricane Season

From the New York Times today....

This is an excellent read. Living in Florida and having now gone through relatively quiet seasons (in comparison to 2004-2005) for several years, you do become complacent.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

William Gray predicts 'above average' 2010 hurricane season

Brace yourselves: Here comes another hurricane prediction.

An early forecast for 2010 calls for an “above-average” hurricane season, according to the Tropical Meteorology Project at Colorado State University.

The team expects 11 to 16 named storms, 6 to 8 hurricanes and 3 to 5 major hurricanes — ones with sustained winds of 111 mph or greater.

Today’s prediction marks the first time William Gray’s team at CSU has provided a range of storms in its December early season forecast. The report is the team’s 27th year of hurricane seasonal predictions.

Because the report is based on Atlantic basin conditions, the team says its forecast could change substantially by the start of the hurricane season, which runs on June 1 to Nov. 30.

Gray’s team plans to list specific numerical forecasts in its next forecast on April 7.

“The Atlantic basin has the largest year-to-year variability of any of the global tropical cyclone basins,” Phil Klotzbach, the team’s leader, said in a release.

A weakening El Nino will allow more hurricanes to form, the team predicts. El Nino is a pattern of warmer-than-usual water in the Pacific Ocean, near the equator. The pattern creates more wind shear over the Atlantic, which breaks up tropical storms as they form.
“We anticipate the current El Nino event to dissipate by the 2010 hurricane season,” Gray said in the release, “and warm sea surface temperatures are likely to continue being present in the tropical and North Atlantic during 2010 — conditions that contribute to an above-average season.”

Their forecast is based on a statistical prediction scheme that uses 58 years of “hindcast” data. Over that time period, the scheme correctly forecasted above- or below-average seasons in 44 out of 58 years, the team said.

For the 2010 Atlantic basin hurricane season, the CSU hurricane forecast team expects:

# A 64 percent chance that at least one major hurricane will make landfall on the U.S. coastline in 2010. The long-term average probability is 52 percent.

# 40 percent chance (the long-term average is 31 percent) of a major hurricane making landfall along the U.S. East Coast, including the Florida Peninsula.

# A 40 percent chance (the long-term average is 30 percent) of a major hurricane making landfall along the Gulf Coast, from the Florida Panhandle west to Brownsville.

The full report.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Hurricane Season Ends Today. Thanks El Niño!

9 Named Storms, 3 Hurricanes, No Florida Landfall.

Quietest season since 1997 and now 4 years from the last named storm hit Florida (Wilma). As a matter of fact, the latest Hurricane ever to strike the United States was on this day in 1925 right near here, just south of Tampa Bay.

Here's the Tampa Tribune's recap of the 2009 Hurricane season.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

60 Days Left in the 2009 Hurricane Season - Keeping our fingers crossed

Focus now moves from the Atlantic to the Gulf of Mexico where late season storms tend to generate.   Water temps are peaking and history shows that the west coast of Florida needs to keep its eyes pointed west for the next couple of months!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

First 2010 Hurricane Forecast

Update: Here's a link to Dr. Gray & Phil Klotzbach first 2010 Hurricane Forecast

Today marks the peak of the 2009 Hurricane season. So far we've had 6 of the 10 named storms predicted and 2 of the 3 Hurricanes, both major (Bill & Fred).*

Luckily they've all stayed away from the US mainland.

Ironically the Old Farmer's Almanac is out today with a prediction for a major hurricane to hit Florida in 2010.

* These are the latest forecasts from Dr. William Gray and Dr. Phil Klotzbach at the Colorado State University Tropical Meterorology Project.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

The New Price of Paradise

This article sums up the cost the Summer of 2004's quadruple strike, which walloped wallets and nerves, had on life in Florida.

Monday, August 31, 2009

New tropical depression expected to form this week, move toward Florida

The National Hurricane Center is monitoring a broad area of low pressure far out in the Atlantic Ocean it gives a "greater than 50 percent" chance of becoming a tropical depression by Tuesday. It would be named Erika if it became a tropical storm or hurricane.

The system is located about 700 miles east of the Windward Islands, according to a 2 a.m. bulletin, and is moving northwest at about 15 mph.

Computer models run on Sunday night predict the storm continuing toward Florida and passing near Puerto Rico by this weekend, but vary widely thereafter.


Saturday, August 29, 2009

Hurricane Katrina 4th Anniversary Today

Today marks the 4th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina making landfall in New Orleans.

There's a variety of news coverage including President Obama's weekly radio address.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Hurricane Katrina born 4 years ago tonight as Depression #12

Tropical Depression 12 formed an estimated 175 miles southeast of Nassau, and was moving northwest near 8 mph.

Tropical Storm Warnings were issued for the Central and Northwestern Bahamas.

The National Hurricane Center discusses the possibility of this depression becoming a hurricane and alerts Southern Florida, that a Tropical Storm or Hurricane Watch might be needed later that evening.

Read more

Is God protecting Florida from Hurricanes at Governor Crist's request?

August 22, 2009

Florida Governor Charlie Crist thanks God that hurricanes have stayed away from Florida

Could it be divine intervention that's kept Florida safe from hurricanes since Gov. Charlie Crist took office?

Crist told a group of real estate agents Friday that he's had prayer notes placed in the Western Wall in Jerusalem each year and no major storms have hit Florida. Crist said he's not taking credit for the lack of storms in this hurricane-prone state.

Read more

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Hurricane Bill to meet President Obama on Martha's Vineyard this Sunday?

One of the only portions of the United States currently in Hurricane Bill's 5-day "cone of uncertainty" is Martha's Vineyard where President Obama and family are scheduled to arrive this Sunday (August 23rd) for their summer vacation.

The 11am cone indicates that Bill could arrive at the same time!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

3 Storms Projected Paths as of 8-16-09

From left to right: Ana, Claudette, & Bill

2 TS + 1 TD = Time to wake up!

Lulled a bit into complacency from a nearly Storm free 2008 in Florida and no named storms through first 75 days of 2009, Ana, Bill and Tropical Depression #4 greet us this Sunday morning.

Time to check the supply list and pay attention to the NHC updates every 3 hours.

Happen to be in Miami this weekend and felt the precursor to TD #4 as it swept through here Saturday. Rained nearly all day long! Not a good day to have a leaky window. TD #4 could become Claudette later today and Bill may be up to hurricane status later today or by Monday. Probably will become a major storm.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Ana finally forms!

The much talked about first named storm of the season is here - well really "out there".

A tropical storm so far with 40 MPH winds. Could affect Florida by mid-week. Eyes up!

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Philip J. Klotzbach and William M. Gray Updated Hurricane Forecast

December 2008 to August 2009 Change
Named Storms 14-10 (-29%)
Named Storm Days 70-45 (-36%)
Hurricanes 7-4 (-43%)
Hurricane Days 30-18 ( -40%)
Major Hurricanes 3-2 (-33%)
Major Hurricanes Days 7-4 (-43%)

Gotta love that El Nino. The Full Report

Monday, August 03, 2009

Hurricane Forecast Updates due this week

Updated forecast from Phil Klotzbach & Dr. William Gray from Colorado State University due tomorrow August 4th and NOAA's should be out later this week. No named storms thus far, but those who follow know that we are just now heading into the "real" season and there are 4 months yet to go.

Meanwhile, the Florida universities want to get in the game (and why should they let a research center at a school in Colorado get all the attention?)

And isn't only appropriate that the University of Miami ("Hurricanes") be building a $48 million research complex?!

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Time Magazine 8/2/09 - Florida Looks at New Ideas for Battling Hurricanes

  • Bill Gates' novel "ocean going tub" concept (to be funded by coastal residents according to the patent filing July 9th)
  • Use of 250,000 foreclosed homes as temporary shelters
  • One way evacuation plan
Nothing really new. Read it here

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Looking busy!

Tropical Waves, points of interest, wind shear all adding up to the 2009 season beginning to get our attention here in Florida.

Nothing definitive yet and the reports I'm reading have a low probability of any of these forming into a large enough storm to be named (for now), but the water's warm and the tropical waves are forming.

Hurray for wind shear!

UPDATED: System is headed north and should provide rain to New England. We're clear for now.

Friday, July 17, 2009

First Wave to Watch of the Season

Limited chance of this becoming anything to worry about over next 48 hours....

200 PM EDT FRI JUL 17 2009





Sunday, July 12, 2009

Five Things About Hurricanes - from NASA

While this is interesting, my take away is the research goals in 2010 between NASA, their Jet Propulsion Laboratory & the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Five Things About Hurricanes

JPL scientist Bjorn Lambrigtsen goes on hurricane watch every June. He is part of a large effort to track hurricanes and understand what powers them.

Lambrigtsen specializes in the field of microwave instruments, which fly aboard research planes and spacecraft, penetrating through thick clouds to see the heart of a hurricane. While scientists are adept at predicting where these powerful storms will hit land, there are crucial aspects they still need to wrench from these potentially killer storms.

Here are thoughts and factoids from Lambrigtsen in the field of hurricane research.

1. Pinpointing the moment of birth
Most Atlantic hurricanes start as a collection of thunderstorms off the coast of Africa. These storm clusters move across the Atlantic, ending up in the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico or Central America. While only one in 10 of these clusters evolve into hurricanes, scientists do not yet know what triggers this powerful transformation. Pinpointing a hurricane's origin will be a major goal of a joint field campaign in 2010 between NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

2. Predicting intensity
Another focus of next year's research campaign will be learning how to better predict a storm's intensity. It is difficult for emergency personnel and the public to gauge storm preparations when they don't know if the storm will be mild or one with tremendous force. NASA's uncrewed Global Hawk will be added to the 2010 research armada. This drone airplane, which can fly for 30 straight hours, will provide an unprecedented long-duration view of hurricanes in action, giving a window into what fuels storm intensity.

3. Deadly force raining down
Think about a hurricane. You imagine high, gusting winds and pounding waves. However, one of the deadliest hurricanes in recent history was one that parked itself over Central America in October 1998 and dumped torrential rain. Even with diminished winds, rain from Hurricane Mitch reached a rate of more than 4 inches per hour. This caused catastrophic floods and landslides throughout the region.

4. Replenishing "spring"
Even though hurricanes can wreak havoc, they also carry out the important task of replenishing the freshwater supply along the Florida and southeastern U.S. coast and Gulf of Mexico. The freshwater deposited is good for the fish and the ecological environment.

5. One size doesn't fit all
Hurricanes come in a huge a variety of sizes. Massive ones can cover the entire Gulf of Mexico (about 1,000 miles across), while others are just as deadly at only 100 miles across. This is a mystery scientists are still trying to unravel.

NASA and NOAA conduct joint field campaigns to study hurricanes. The agencies use research planes to fly through and above hurricanes, and scientists collect data from NASA spacecraft that fly overhead. NOAA, along with its National Hurricane Center, is the U.S. government agency tasked with hurricane forecasting.

For more information on how NASA and JPL study hurricanes, go to and

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

No Storm - Just Rain. Month 1 done without incident....but it's early!

Invest 93L never developed into anything more than a whole lotta rain crossing the Florida Peninsula yesterday and today.

This is the morning commute today in downtown Tampa.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

First Spaghetti Model of the Season

Disturbance near Yucatan Peninsula "Invest 93" could throw a lot of rain at Florida or Mexico ......and/or become the first named storm of the year - "Ana"

Something to watch this coming week heading into the 4th of July holiday.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Day 2 Gift - A Lowered Forecast!

Philip Klotzback & William Gray have lowered their 2009 storm forecast (pdf).

Tracking their December 2008 to April 2009 to June 2009 reports:

  • Named Storms 14-12-11
  • Hurricanes 7-6-5
  • Major Hurricanes 3-2-2

The possibilties of a Category 3,4, or 5 storm hitting the US coastline now 48% (compared to 52% for the last century)

The US East Coast's probability is 28% (31% for last century)

The Gulf Coast from the Florida Panhandle westward to Brownsville also 28% (30% for last century)

There is a 39% probability of at least one major storm tracking into the Caribbean compared to 42% for the last century.

My non-scientific interpretation of this reduction in their latest report is due to evolving weather conditions that will provide more upper level wind shear coupled with stronger Atlantic trade winds in April & May, both of which normally decrease the levels of hurricane activity in the Atlantic ocean. They added that sea surface temperatures are lower in the tropical Atlantic that also is less conducive to storm activity.

In a long period of more active storm seasons, this is favorable data for this year!

Monday, June 01, 2009

It's Opening Day!

On the first day of the 2009 Hurricane Season and the eve of their June 2nd Seasonal Update, here is Dr. William Gray and Phil Klotzbach's presentation from the Florida Governor's Hurricane Conference delivered May 14th in Ft. Lauderdale. While there are quite a few technical slides and no audio, there are some pretty straight-forward and obvious slides, such as this one:

My take away from this presentation, which is based on historical data and their April predictions, is that we are looking at an average to slightly above average Hurricane season, based on the lower image. 54% probability of at least one major (Cat 3-4-5) hurricane landfall somewhere on the U.S. coastline (compared to 52% average for the last century). Florida is at a 32% probability (31% for the last century).

Tomorrow we get their updated Seasonal Forecast. Find out more at the Colorado State University Tropical Meteorology Project website.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

"Hurricanes cost geometrically more than they did decades ago"

Scary piece from the Palm Beach Post. Excerpts.........

The start of the season finds Florida's insurance market in a "fragile" state, an analysis by Fitch Ratings concludes. The largest remaining private insurer, State Farm, has threatened to leave within two years. The state-run insurer of last resort, Citizens, is the biggest player by some measures. The state's catastrophe fund, a backup to the insurance market, stands at least $9.5 billion short of being able to cover its maximum repayment obligations, Fitch figures.

Part of the trouble is hurricanes cost geometrically more than they did decades ago. Florida's population has grown more than 500 percent since 1950 to more than 18 million.

"The hurricanes haven't changed much," Chris Landsea, science and operations officer at the National Hurricane Center, said in a recent meeting in West Palm Beach. "We just have a lot more people in the way."

"If a major hurricane strikes Florida this season, we all pay!"

A strong reminder on the eve of the season's start!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Surf's up. Ana is that you?

As in the past 2 years, there's activity occurring before the official start of Hurricane Season on Monday. The low off the Carolina coast that was suspect this week has become Tropical Depression #1. Moving up the eastern seaboard, but well off shore, it's a race between intensifying into a named storm ("Ana") or fizzling out in the colder waters of the Atlantic.

Otherwise, looks like good surfin' conditions along the Atlantic Seaboard

And here in Florida, Hurricane Preparedness Week continues.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Countdown to the Season

Memorial Day Weekend in Florida is typically when the news media intensifies its coverage of the upcoming Hurricane Season. With 10 days to go the TV specials, special newspaper sections and "hurricane survival" preparation chatter reaches its pre-season pinnacle. For good reason.

This year's state-wide theme is: "Get a Plan"

In past years, this coming week (or the first week of June) would also be the time when the "tax holiday" would begin offering Floridians the opportunity to buy specific storm related items without paying sales tax. This would be a noticeable savings on large items such as generators or if you stocked up on large quantities of batteries, flashlights, tarps, coolers, plywood & the like. Not this year -- due to the state's recession-impacted operating budget. I know in my case that I am pretty well stocked from previous years so the tax savings wouldn't have been material for me. Here's the official list of items suggested to have on hand.

In some past years - and this year - we've had pre-season rainstorms that have provided us with much needed rainfall and put enough moisture on the ground to start the "rainy season" that typically runs parallel to Hurricane Season. Rainy season is what Florida is stereotypically known for - usually brief but intense afternoon thundershowers brought on by the day's heating and the clashing of sea breezes across the peninsula.

We've had a near record-setting 11 straight days of rain in the Tampa Bay area which has been sorely needed to refill our resevoirs & aquifer as well as get our brown grass to start growing again. Rain has been heavy enough in some counties that the Governor has declared a state of emergency in 11 Florida counties mostly in the Orlando area. It's expected to rain throughout the Memorial Day weekend and gradually begin to dry up a bit next week leading up to the June 1st kickoff.

This year's pre-season event even got to the point where weather forecasters thought it COULD turn into a named (Ana) "subtropical" storm as the weather system moved northwest across the state. This morning they are still keeping an eye on the system as it heads into the gulf and towards the Florida panhandle, but the odds are low that it will more than a soaking rain event. The past 2 years have brought about "named" storms prior to the June 1st:

2007: Andrea - Subtropical storm May 6-14 with wind up to 65 MPH
2008: Arthur - Tropical storm May 31-June 2 with wind up to 40 MPH

Memorial Day and pre-(Hurricane) season rain - it's a new Florida tradition!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Changes to the "Cone of Uncertainty"

From the Governor's Hurricane Conference in Fort. Lauderdale today, it was announced that due to better forecasting capabilities, the storm path cone, known as the "cone of uncertainty" is going to shrink. The cone is used to depict the projected area where the eye of a storm has a two-thirds chance of passing, based on five years of error analysis.

Because predictions are getting better, the circles that make up the cone can shrink, said the National Hurricane Center's Robbie Berg

The straight black line that usually runs through the cone, connecting the dots where the storm is projected to travel, will also disappear. Berg said the center is removing the line because people often mistake it as a landfall prediction.

Here in Florida we are constantly reminded not to focus on the black line but rather watch the width and direction of the cone.

In addition, the process for predicting storm surge will be modified with more emphasis on the size of the storm, not just the category.

Read more here.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

More details on Florida's Insurance Rates going up

While Governor Crist hasn't YET signed it, details of the insurance regulation bill are available. Here are the highlights:
  • Citizens Property Insurance can aise rates a maximum of 10 percent annually until its rates are actuarially sound.
  • Increases rates 1 percent each year to recover the cost of extra payments to the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund, required for rapid reserve build-up.
  • Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund
  • Reduces coverage sold by $2 billion over the next six years.
  • Implements a rapid reserve build-up program over the next five years. Insurers will pay additional premiums each year.
  • Allows small insurers to purchase additional coverage from the CAT Fund.
  • Allows private insurers to pass on up to 10 percent of their reinsurance costs to policyholders through expedited rate filings.
  • Prohibits insurers from raising rates and then filing the required paperwork with state regulators until Dec. 31, 2010.
Here's the full story from the Miami Herald.

I don't believe this news has fully reached the over 1 million Citizen's Insurance customers in the state as well as everyone else here that will face higher rates partly due to the hurricane activity in 2004-5 and to protect the state's emergency Hurricane Catastrophe Fund in the future.

Wait till Charlie signs the legislation and watch for the fireworks! This won't be good.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Higher Property Insurance Rates for Florida coming just in time for Hurricane Season

In an effort to shore up the state's Hurricane disaster fund, homeowners throughout the state may be facing higher property-insurance bills. The measure, which easily passed both State chambers, would increase rates for customers of the state-backed Citizens Property Insurance Corp. by 10 percent a year. Also, customers of private insurance companies likely will see rate hikes, though the amounts could vary.

The bill is sitting on Governor Charlie Crist's desk as the week begins.

Hurricane Season starts in less than 30 days.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Florida's Emergency Management Director headed for FEMA chief confirmation

Craig Fugate, President Obama’s nominee to head FEMA, sailed through his confirmation hearing Wednesday before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and made strong assurances on Hurricane Katrina recovery and the future of the disaster response agency.

I'd say he's qualified:

As Florida’s emergency management chief since 2001, Fugate has responded to eight major hurricanes. A certified firefighter and paramedic, he also spent 10 years as a local emergency manager in Alachua County, Florida. He has managed the response to 11 federal disasters, 23 state emergencies and has overseen more than $4.5 billion in federal disaster assistance.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Good News?

Headlines this week in Florida were that due to the loosening of the credit markets, the State would have the ability to bond an additional $5 billion, if needed, giving us $8 billion for the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund.

The fund was established after Hurricane Andrew in 1992, to back up insurers in the event of a particularly devastating hurricane, or a quick succession of smaller ones. It now has an exposure of more than $28 billion with less than $8 billion on hand to pay claims.

Here's the round up of news coverage (although most of it says the same thing)

Ironically, Governor Charlie Crist found out about this via telephone as his trip to the state capital in Tallahassee was delayed due to Tornado warnings near his home in St. Petersburg, FL.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

2009 Hurricane Forecast Lowered

Colorado State University forecasters Phil Klotzbach and Dr. William Gray cite cooler Atlantic Ocean temperatures and weak El Nino developing in the Pacific Ocean.

December forecast
April update
Normal (based on 1950-2000 data)
Named storms 1412
Hurricanes 76
Hurricane days
Intense hurricanes
Intense hurricane days
Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE)

Read the details in here

Sunday, April 05, 2009

A Second Disaster hits Homestead

17 years after Hurricane Andrew, another disaster has hit Homestead, Florida. Over 2200 homes in foreclosure since October due to overbuilding & speculators - Story

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

National Hurricane Center to Provide Video Streaming

Press Release

Under the agreement, AEN's pioneering Internet- and satellite-based service will distribute live-video storm updates by National Hurricane Center forecasters during U.S. landfalling hurricanes and when other events warrant.

These crucial video briefings by the nation's leading experts will be available to anyone with an Internet connection -- without charge, in real time and in their entirety via media websites that subscribe to the AEN network.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Digital Transition To Darken Most Portable TVs

With no electricity (say in the case of a hurricane), no cable TV, no Internet and the digital converter boxes for old analog TVs won't work. Battery powered digital TVs are in short supply and appear not to work very well.

Threw away my old 6 inch battery powered analog TV this weekend.

Looks like an opportunity for local radio!