As I have said before, Mother Nature does not always follow the rules that meteorologists set forth. One example would be severe weather watch boxes. They are areas mapped out to show where the highest probability of severe weather occurrences will be. The only problem is that those severe thunderstorms and tornadoes do not always conform to the areas delineated by the National Weather Service Severe Storms Forecast Center.
This is also true with tropical weather. A perfect example is our recent Sub Tropical Storm Alberto which formed in the Caribbean on Friday May 25th a week before the Atlantic-Caribbean-Gulf of Mexico tropical cyclone season officially began. It’s not like nature pays attention to the actual season any more than the deer cross our streets only at the areas marked with the signs “Deer Crossing Next 2 Miles”.
What is a subtropical cyclone? The National Weather Service defines a Subtropical Cyclone as “A non-frontal low pressure system that has the characteristics of both tropical and extratropical cyclones. This system is typically an upper level cold low with circulation extending to the surface layer and maximum sustained winds generally occurring at a radius of about 100 miles more from the center. In comparison to tropical cyclones, such systems have a relatively broad zone of maximum winds that is located farther from the center, and typically have a less symmetric wind field and distribution of convection.”
Alberto actually formed about 55 miles south of Cozumel, Mexico with sustained winds of 40 miles-per-hour and started moving in a NNE Direction at 4 miles-per-hour. The storm’s sustained winds accelerated to 65 miles-per-hour on Sunday May 27th at 5:30pm PDT and was located 195 miles west of Tampa, Florida.
Alberto made landfall around 2pm May 28th near Laguna Beach, Florida which placed it also about 15 miles WNW of Panama City, Florida. The highest sustained winds dropped to 45 miles-per-hour with the increased friction with the ground as it made landfall. By 8pm PDT that night Alberto was downgraded to a Subtropical Depression. The last report by The National Hurricane center was issued at 8pm PDT May 29th as the sustained winds diminished to 35 miles-per-hour as it was just the remnants of the storm. The moisture field produced by Alberto continued migrating northward into the Midwest producing significant rainfall amounts over many states. If you think Alberto developed too early here is a trivia fact. The earliest tropical cyclone occurred on January 3, 1938.
The 2018 Atlantic-Caribbean-Gulf of Mexico tropical cyclone season officially began Friday June 1st and continues through November 30, 2018. I’ll just bet you are wondering what names the rest of the season’s storms will be given. Here is that list produced by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). There are 21 names listed. They alternate between male and female names and leave out names that start with Q,U,X, Y, and Z. The names can be used again in other years unless the named storm produced death and serious destruction.
Now that we know the names the storms will have let’s take a look at the prediction for how many storms will be produced this season. The Department of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University has been issuing a Tropical Cyclone forecast for the Atlantic basin for 35 years now. The man responsible for the report from its inception until his retirement is the late Dr. William L. Gray. Dr. Phil Klotzbach, who was a researcher with Dr. Gray, took over at Gray’s request when Gray retired. Their research team’s report is as follows. They predict 14 named storms (acquire tropical storm status) , 55 storm days, 6 hurricanes, 20 hurricane days, 2 major hurricanes, and 4 major hurricane days. Since the season is officially underway now we will have about 6 months to see if their predictions ring true.
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