Gulf Coast Hurricane Tracker

A single source reference on tropical weather predictions. With a traditional focus on the upper Texas and Louisiana Gulf Coast we've maintained links to track all Atlantic Basin, Caribbean and eastern Pacific storm systems. We are now expanding our view to tropical storms throughout the world intending to be a comprehensive global storm tracking resource.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

2010 Hurricane season to be a doozy

Predictions for this year's hurricane season have all run on the higher than normal side. NOAA announced their predictions this week stating that the potential exists for this to be one of the top ten storm seasons ever. 14 to 23 named storms are expected to form this year with 8 - 14 reaching hurricane status and as many as 7 growing to a Category 3 or higher (Major Hurricane) status.

VIDEO: US Predicts Up to 7 Major Atlantic Hurricanes (Associated Press)

Factors contributing to the high forecast this year include warm sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic, low upper level winds shears and the disintegration of El Nino. Another factor is the fact that the multi-decadal oscillation is such that the Atlantic is in a state of generally higher activity overall.

Fierce hurricane season predicted (USA Today)
"If this outlook holds true, this season could be one of the more active on record," said NOAA chief Jane Lubchenco. "The greater likelihood of storms brings an increased risk of a landfall. In short, we urge everyone to be prepared."

Forecasters say that some of the factors that support this outlook include a weakening El Nino, record warm Atlantic Ocean water, and the fact that we're in an era of high activity.

Wind shear, which can tear apart storms, will be weaker since El Nino is dissipating. Strong wind shear helped suppress storm development during the 2009 hurricane season.

Sea-surface temperatures are expected to remain above average where storms often develop and move across the Atlantic. Record warm temperatures – up to four degrees above average – are now present in this region, NOAA reports.

Also, since 1995, the Atlantic is in an era of increased hurricane activity. There are consistently favorable ocean and atmospheric conditions for storm formation.

At the press conference, FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) administrator Craig Fugate stressed preparedness. "The most important thing for people to remember as we head into any hurricane season is to prepare, prepare, prepare," he said. "FEMA is working with all our federal, state and local partners to ensure we?re prepared, but we can only be as prepared as the public. It?s critical that families and businesses take steps now to get ready."

Storm predictions accurate

Storm predictions by NOAA and other organizations have generally been accurate. Many people become desensitized when few storms make landfall. The storm predictions are are for total storms in the entire Atlantic Basin. NOAA does not predict the number of landfalling hurricanes. Most people associate the strength of a hurricane season with how many storms come ashore.

This can be dangerous. 1992 was a rather calm season with regard to the number of storms, but the storm that did come ashore was Hurricane Andrew which caused catastrophic damage. As the graph below shows, the predictions have been fairly close to reality except for the record setting 2005 season which exceeded everyone's expectations. 2010 appears to have similar conditions at the start of the season as 2005 had.

Landfall risk increased

One obvious rule of thumb is that the more storms that exist in the Atlantic, the greater the likelihood that some of those storm will come ashore.

NOAA does not predict the number of landfalling storms but says that there is an increased risk of landfall this year compared to previous years. AccuWeather's Joe Bastardi has projected that at least 6 storms could affect the US coastline with as many as 10 storms as a worst case scenario.

Tropical Storm Risk predicts that at least five storms striking the US coast this year and that with an increased number of storms the risk to the Gulf Coast or Florida is very high.

‘Active’ 2010 Atlantic Hurricane Season Forecast (Update1) (BusinessWeek)

At least two hurricanes and three tropical storm-strength systems are expected to hit the U.S., according to the British forecaster, which is affiliated with University College London and is co-sponsored by the insurers Aon Benfield, RSA Insurance Group Plc and Crawford & Co


The current El Nino cycle is waning and the Pacific will return to normal temperatures by June, according to a U.S. Climate Prediction Center update issued yesterday. Some models suggest a La Nina, or cooling of the Pacific, may develop later this year, the center said.

In addition to El Nino’s decline, high pressure developing over Bermuda during the season is likely to steer storms toward the U.S., the report showed. The Atlantic’s surface temperature in the area between Africa and the Caribbean, often referred to as the main hurricane development area, was the warmest on record in April.

“These waters provide heat and moisture to help power the development of storms,” the report said. “If this warm anomaly persisted to August-September it would favor an active hurricane season.”

As the number of hurricanes rises, so do the chances of one striking the oil-rich Gulf of Mexico or Florida’s crop areas.

The Gulf is home to about 30 percent of U.S. oil and 12 percent of U.S. natural gas production, the U.S. Energy Department says. It also has seven of the 10 busiest U.S. ports, according to the Army Corps of Engineers. Florida is the second- largest producer of oranges after Brazil.

The important thing this year is to PREPARE for the worst and HOPE for the best. This year this may prove to be more than a cliche.

2010 Atlantic Hurricanes (courtesy of

NOAA Gulf of Mexico Radar (courtesy of

NOAA West Atlantic & Caribbean Radar (courtesy of

NOAA East Atlantic Radar (courtesy of