Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Hurricane Barbara to weaken before reaching Gulf of Mexico Thursday

Hurricane Barbara, on the southern coast of Mexico, is expected to cross over land into the Gulf of Mexico by Thursday but will pose little threat, the National Hurricane Center predicts.

A 2 p.m. Wednesday, Barbara a minimal hurricane, moving north-northeast at 9 mph with maximum winds at 75 mph. By early Thursday, the system should weaken significantly and move into the southern Gulf as what forecasters are calling a "remnant low."

Barbara is expected to dissipate within the next day or so, dumping an average of 6-10 inches of rain in eastern Oaxaca and western Chipas, Mexico.


Thursday, May 23, 2013

NOAA says prepare for active hurricane season

Federal forecasters are predicting yet another busy hurricane season. People living along the Gulf coast should consider themselves warned -- officially.

If you live in hurricane prone areas along the Atlantic Ocean or Gulf of Mexico coasts, "This is your warning," acting NOAA administrator Kathryn Sullivan said.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said there is a 70 percent chance that this year will be more active than an average hurricane season.

The NOAA forecast agrees with the prediction issued earlier this spring by experts at Colorado State University. 

Thursday's outlook by the NOAA calls for 13 to 20 named storms, 7 to 11 that strengthen into hurricanes and 3 to 6 that become major hurricanes.

Last year was the third-busiest on record with 19 named storms. Ten became hurricanes and were two major storms, with winds over 111 mph.

That included Sandy, which caused $50 billion in damage even though it lost hurricane status when it made landfall in New Jersey, the Associated Press reported.

The last time a major hurricane made landfall in the United States was Wilma in 2005. The seven year U.S. landfall drought is the longest on record.

 All the factors that go into hurricane forecasts are pointing to an active season, or extremely active one, said lead forecaster Gerry Bell of the Climate Prediction Center.

Those factors include: warmer than average ocean waters that provide fuel for storms, a pattern of increased hurricane activity, the lack of an El Nino warming of the central Pacific Ocean, and an active pattern of storm systems coming off west Africa.

The six-month season starts a week from Saturday, June 1.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

2013 storm season is off and running

More than two weeks before the official start of the 2013 Atlantic hurricane season and the year's first named storm has appeared.

The newly upgraded tropical storm -- named Alvin -- has formed in the eastern Pacific about 665 miles southwest of Acapulco. Alvin is moving west-northwest, away from land, at about 12 mph with maximum sustained winds at 46 mph.

It's supposed to strengthen over the next few days and is likely to become a hurricane.

While it's no threat to Florida, it could point to a busier than normal year for big storms. See our May 1 post for more on that. And stay tuned to this blog as the Bradenton Herald cranks up coverage for the 2013 season.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Hurricane workshop May 23 in Lakewood Ranch

Find out what local emergency officials have learned from last year's storms at a presentation at 7 p.m. May 23 at Lakewood Ranch Town Hall.

Steve Simpson, emergency operations manager with the Manatee County Department of Emergency Management, and others will share lessons learned from Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, explain the storm surge and flood zone maps for Manatee County, and discuss emergency evacuation routes.

Members of the Lakewood Ranch Community Emergency Response Team will also be on hand.

Residents will also learn how the county emergency shelter system operates, the location of pet-friendly shelters, and arrangements for the elderly and special needs populations. Additional information will be provided about storm supplies to have on hand and how to provide for needs during the post-storm recovery period.

Information: 941-749-3507.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

If you believe the odds, Manatee County likely to have quiet hurricane season

Professor William Gray and research scientist Philip Kloztbach from Colorado State University's Department of Atmospheric Science have become the go-to guys in the last few years as hurricane predictors.

The pair have been making predictions about hurricane season for the last 30 years. Last month, they released their report for the 2013 season, which starts June 1. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will be releasing its forecast later this month.

The overview: In the Atlantic this year, we can expect 18 named storms, nine of them hurricanes. Four of those will be major hurricanes.

It's very similar to last year, where there were 19 named storms, nine of which attained hurricane strength.

But delving deeper into their CSU research, they predict landfall probability by region, and by individual county. 

The CSU data suggests there's a 1.2 percent chance of a hurricane coming ashore in Manatee County. There's even a smaller chance (0.7 percent) of a major hurricane hitting Manatee.

There a much larger chance (27.9 percent) of tropical storm force winds hitting Manatee County. That's wind of 40 mph or more.

You can read the entire forecast and the supporting documentation here