Category Archives: Environment

2016 Atlantic Hurricane Season Forecast

The season’s first forecast for Atlantic hurricanes in 2016 has been released by the Colorado State University Tropical Meteorology Project. After 10 years of below average activity, this year the expectation is for an “average” year. That is, a return to mean as recorded over the past 29 years of their data.

The strong El Nino effect in the Pacific during the past year has deflected storms and reduced winds aloft over the US mainland but is expected to weaken during this coming summer due to colder temperatures in the North Atlantic. By September the El Nino influence is expected to be gone, just in time for the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season, however, subsequently moderate La Nina conditions in late summer and fall could bring significant cooling.

We anticipate that the 2016 Atlantic basin hurricane season will have approximately average activity. The current weakening El Niño is likely to transition to either neutral or La Niña conditions by the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season. While the tropical Atlantic is relatively warm, the far North Atlantic is quite cold, potentially indicative of a negative phase of the Atlantic Multi-Decadal Oscillation. We anticipate a near-average probability for major hurricanes making landfall along the United States coastline and in the Caribbean. As is the case with all hurricane seasons, coastal residents are reminded that it only takes one hurricane making landfall to make it an active season for them. They should prepare the same for every season, regardless of how much activity is predicted.

–  Dr. Philip J. Klotzbach, Colorado State University 14 April, 2016


Atlantic Hurricane Season April 2016 forecastAverage
Named storms (>35mph winds)  12
Hurricanes (>72mph winds)  5  6.5
Major hurricanes (>111mph winds)  1  2
US landfall likelihood 50% 52%
Gulf Coast landfall probability 30% 30%
Major Hurricane in Caribbean probability 29% 42%
Manatee County hurricane landfall probability* 0.6% 0.7%
Manatee County tropical storm probability* 16.3% 17.1%
Manatee County >75mph wind gusts probability* 4.7% 5.0%

Tracks of major hurricanes making Florida peninsula and East Coast landfall during 1916-1965 and 1966-2015.

Tracks of major hurricanes making Florida peninsula and East Coast landfall during 1916-1965 and 1966-2015.

The last hurricane effect in the Tampa Bay area was the Tarpon Springs hurricane of October, 1921. Anna Maria Island’s first bridge from Cortez, being constructed at the time, was damaged in the storm.

Anna Maria Island's last close-by hurricane made landfall at Tarpon Springs.

Anna Maria Island’s last close-by hurricane made landfall at Tarpon Springs.

2015 Atlantic Hurricane Season Review

2015 Atlantic Storm tracks

2015 Atlantic Storm tracks


  • Below average storm activity with fewest named storms since 1993
  • No impacts on Anna Maria Island
  • No landfalls on Florida
  • A record 65-straight hurricanes in the Atlantic have missed Florida
  • Last storm (Wilma) to hit Florida was 10 year ago, an all time record lull.
  • 1 Gulf of Mexico storm (TS Bill)
  • 1 US mainland landfall (TS Ana, pre hurricane season)
  • 2 major hurricanes (Cat 3 Danny and Cat 4 Joaquin)
Atlantic Hurricane Season April 2015 forecast 2015 Actual
Named storms (>35mph) 7 11
Hurricanes (>72mph) 3 4
Major hurricanes (>111mph) 1 2
US landfall likelihood 28% 9%
Gulf Coast landfall 15% 9%

The Named Storms:

Ana – Tropical Storm, May 8-11. Earliest on record. Landfall North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Bill – Tropical Storm, June 16-18. Landfall Matagorda Island, Texas.

Claudette – Tropical Storm, July 13-14

Danny – Hurricane Cat 3, August 18-24

Erika – Tropical Storm, August 25-29, impacting Dominica, Guadalupe, Puerto Rico, and Haiti.

Fred – Hurricane Cat 1, August 30 to September 6, first ever impact on Cape Verde Islands.

Grace – Tropical Storm, September 5-9

Henri – Tropical Storm, September 8-11

Ida – Tropical Storm, September 18-27

Joaquin – Hurricane Cat 4, September 28 to October 8, impacting Bahamas, and sinking cargo ship El Faro.

Kate – Tropical Storm, November 9-12

Continue reading “2015 Atlantic Hurricane Season Review” »

2015 Atlantic Hurricane Season Forecast

The first early forecast for the 2015 hurricane season has been released by the Colorado State University Tropical Meteorology Project, predicting another quiet year:

We anticipate that the 2015 Atlantic basin hurricane season will be one of the least active seasons since the middle of the 20th century.
It appears quite likely that an El Niño of at least moderate strength will develop this summer and fall.
The tropical and subtropical Atlantic are also quite cool at present.
We anticipate a below-average probability for major hurricanes making landfall along the United States coastline and in the Caribbean.

– Drs Philip J. Klotzbach and William M. Gray, Colorado State University, April 9, 2015

Atlantic Hurricane Season April 2015 forecastAverage
Named storms (>35mph winds)  7
Hurricanes (>72mph winds)  3  6.5
Major hurricanes (>111mph winds)  1   2
US landfall likelihood28%52%
Gulf Coast landfall probability15%30%
Major Hurricane in Caribbean probability22%42%
Manatee County hurricane landfall probability *0.3%0.7%
Manatee County tropical storm probability*8.1%17.1%
Manatee County >75mph wind gusts probability*2.3%5.0%

Early season forecasts are based on historical statistics and computer models that predict outcomes using climatological conditions present in January to March. The CSU model has been accurate in predicting above or below average seasons 23 out of 33 times, or 70%.

Measurements used include sea surface temperature, sea level pressure, and zonal wind strengths. Eastern tropical Pacific conditions in August to October, such as weak trades, low SST and SLP, are associated with La Nina formation, which is conducive to high activity in the tropical Atlantic. High SST, SLP and strong trades prevent warm air propagating from Western Pacific to the tropical Atlantic area and is referred to as El Nino, which correlates to a quieter Caribbean summer.

2015 Western Pacific Sea Surface Temperature Anomaly - El Nino

2015 Western Pacific Sea Surface Temperature Anomaly – El Nino

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Freezing on Anna Maria Island

Winter walk winter surfDid Anna Maria Island feel colder than usual this winter? While northern states were blanketed in record-breaking snowfalls and experienced long periods of sub-freezing temperatures, the Sun Coast of Florida prepared for the expected winter chills. Cold fronts usually reach deep into south Florida as the cold air sinks down from the north.  But how did it really fare?

Looking at February’s recorded temperatures in Bradenton reveals that highs and lows appear lower than the long-term averages, but not breaking any historic records. There were the usual days of cold winds and rain showers but wet-suited surfers enjoyed some better waves and the beach was always interesting for brisk walks. Drier air was a treat and appropriate clothing kept in body heat.

February temperatures

The only gripe could be a slightly higher heating bill but nothing like the shocks that August cooling costs. The increased traffic delays from tourists and seasonal visitors may have raised a few temperatures as more and more people discover Anna Maria Island’s unique charm.

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Anna Maria Island’s Most Beautiful Visitors: White Pelicans

White Pelicans try to take a Brown Pelican's fish

White Pelicans try to take a Brown Pelican’s fish.

For my first few years living on Anna Maria Island, I had only heard of white pelicans, but never had seen them. Eventually, my curiosity prompted me to go look for them. I had heard there were some at the south part of the island in Anna Maria Sound. At first, I thought I’d found them. They looked white, but they were in many ways similar to the more common local Brown Pelicans. Soon I learned Brown Pelicans have white heads and necks when they are adults, but not breeding. This is all I had seen.

Later I learned the best place to see the American White Pelican in this area was Cortez fishing village, and this is where I found them. On the occasion of my first American White Pelican spotting, there was no question about what it was. It was gigantic compared to the local browns. The wingspan of the white is 9 feet, compared to 7 feet for the brown. The white pelican also looks completely white when it floats in the water. The black primary and secondary flight feathers on the wings are only obvious during flight.

Other than size and color, the most obvious difference between Brown Pelicans and American White Pelicans is their feeding behavior. Brown Pelicans glide in the air, then do apparently awkward dives, splashing loudly into the water with a strange twist, but usually recovering with a pouch full of fish. White pelicans do not dive; instead they forage for fish in a methodical way. Sometimes they even swim as a group in a formation, moving the fish toward the shore or into narrow areas where they can be more easily caught.

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