Category Archives: Environment

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 forecast Average
Named storms (>35mph winds)   7
12
Hurricanes (>72mph winds)   3   6.5
Major hurricanes (>111mph winds)   1   2
US landfall likelihood 28% 52%
Gulf Coast landfall probability 15% 30%
Major Hurricane in Caribbean probability 22% 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%

http://landfalldisplay.geolabvirtualmaps.com

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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2014 Atlantic Hurricane Season Review

2014 Atlantic Storm tracks

2014 Atlantic Storm tracks

Summary:

  • Below average activity with fewest named storms since 1997
  • No effects on Anna Maria Island
  • No landfalls on Florida
  • 1 Gulf of Mexico storm (TS Dolly)
  • 1 US mainland landfall (Arthur)
  • 2 major hurricanes (Cat 3 Edouard and Cat 4 Gonzalo)
  • The US broke a record of 9 years without a major hurricane landfall. The last major hurricane to make US landfall was Wilma (2005). The previous record of eight years was from 1861-1868.
  • Florida broke a record of 9 years without a hurricane impact (since 1851). The previous record of five years was from 1980-1984.
Atlantic Hurricane Season  June 2014 forecast  2014 Actual
Named storms (>35mph)  10  8
Hurricanes (>72mph)  4  6
Major hurricanes (>111mph)  1  2
US landfall likelihood  40%  12%
Gulf Coast landfall  23%  12%

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2014 Atlantic Hurricane Season Forecast

The 2014 hurricane season has arrived and the extended range summer analysis forecasts below-average activity and landfall strike possibility.

“We continue to foresee a below-average 2014 Atlantic hurricane season. The tropical Atlantic remains slightly cooler than normal, while El Niño is in the process of developing. However, the transition to El Niño has slowed some in recent weeks, and the tropical Atlantic has anomalously warmed, causing us to increase our forecast slightly. We are still calling for a below-average probability of United States and Caribbean major hurricane landfall.”

Drs Philip J. Klotzbach and William M. Gray, Colorado State University, June 2, 2014

Atlantic Hurricane Season  June 2014 forecast Average
Named storms (>35mph winds)  10
12
Hurricanes (>72mph winds)   4  6.5
Major hurricanes (>111mph winds)   1   2
US landfall likelihood 40% 52%
Gulf Coast landfall probability 23% 30%
Manatee County hurricane landfall probability 0.5% 0.7%
Manatee County tropical storm probability 12.3% 17.1%
Manatee County >75mph wind gusts probability 3.5% 5.0%

Information obtained through May 2014 indicates that the 2014 Atlantic hurricane season will have less activity than the median 1981-2010 season. The probability of U.S. major hurricane landfall is estimated to be about 80 percent of the long-period average. An anticipated below-average Atlantic basin hurricane season is due to the likelihood of El Niño development along with a slighter cooler than normal tropical Atlantic.

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