Which Storm Is Next?

Tropical Storm Lee came and went in an instant. There’s a Tropical Depression in the Atlantic that will probably be Maria. It’s in a place that doesn’t favor a North American threat.

Next would be Nate.

There is a chunk of moisture with thunderstorms popping up in the Eastern Atlantic. It is very far away. The Hurricane Center has not seen fit to give it a name or track it in any but the most basic way. It’s a possibility for Nate.

Earlier tonight, my friend Bob, the hurricane expert (PhD and teaching position in meteorology at a fine large university), said this blob of cloudiness deserved watching… and so I have joined its observers.

These small clusters of thunderstorms pop up off the west coast of Africa all the time during this part of the hurricane season. Hurricane birth is very much a movable feast. There are different climatologically favored areas, depending on the time of year.

Most of them collapse under their own weight. Only a few grow.

Even when they grow, there’s a good chance they’ll be like Lee – far away from people and not very long lived. There are many more Lees than there are Katrinas.

Hurricanes are difficult to predict. A lot of that has to do with the very light steering winds they encounter. A mile or two per hour or the change of a few degrees in wind direction make a big difference in where a hurricane will move over an extended length of time.

Then there’s the water temperature. Have we accurately observed what it is… or have we been fooled (because satellites, radar and our other tools aren’t quite as good as the general public thinks they are when a system’s very far from ground based instruments)?

Hurricanes are also compact systems. They’re too small to be easily or accurately picked up by the conventional computer models we use. And, we need dates far in the future for something closer to Africa than America. Our errors are multiplied with time.

After all that, knowing we’ll mostly be wrong, we look anyway. We often chatter among ourselves over these left field predictons. I’m not entirely sure why.

I’m attaching part of a computer model which picks up this pre-Nate cluster, allows the storm to engorge itself on warm, tropical, Atlantic water until it reaches hurricane strength, and then curves it up the East Coast.

I don’t believe it is true. I don’t think this forecast will happen. But, it’s all we have right now. It’s what the geeky boys are currently talking about

Will there be a Nate and will he be right off the New England coast Tuesday, September 13, 2005 at 8:00 PM EDT (9/14/2005 0000Z) as this maps shows? Stay tuned.

Stranger things have happened.

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