Thursday, September 15, 2011

at halftime, it's an unusual hurricane season

By the most common measure, hurricane season has been running at near-record pace.

 With 14 named storms at the halfway point of the six-month season, it will only take one more to push this year into a tie for the tenth busiest on record. And if the second half proves anything like the first, 2011 could even wind up approaching the all-time record of 28 in 2005.

 By broader measures, however, the tropics have been somewhat tepid — Hurricane Irene’s deadly and damaging march up the East Coast not withstanding.

To put it simply, storm season so far has been about quantity, not quality, so far. Only three storms, Irene, Emily and Katia, have grown into hurricanes. A key index called ACE — for accumulated cyclone energy, a measure that combines the intensity and longevity of storms — sits at just 20 to 30 percent above average.

 “The distribution has been very unusual this year,’’ said Phil Klotzbach, a researcher who along with colleague William Gray produces Colorado State University’s closely watched long-term forecasts. The tally to date: Three hurricanes, two of them major, and a lot of fairly weak tropical storms, including — as Klotzbach put it — “two-short-lived pieces of garbage.’’ That would be Franklin and Jose.

For more of this Miami Herald story, see Friday's Bradenton Herald.

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