Start Of 2012 Hurricane Season

Time flies fast and it is June 1st already. You know what that means? Hurricane season starts today. Yes, it is this time of the year. Here is the names for 2012.
Alberto
Beryl
Chris
Debby
Ernesto
Florence
Gordon
Helene
Isaac
Joyce
Kirk
Leslie
Michael
Nadine
Oscar
Patty
Rafael
Sandy
Tony
Valerie
William

The name list was last used in 2006, when it was a less active season. None of the names were retired. However, I think Alberto and Gordon should have been retired in 1994 as they were horrible storms that killed many people by flooding in Georgia and Haiti. 2012 started early. We have had two named storms before June 1st, Alberto and Beryl. Beryl made landfall as a near hurricane on Florida. An early start does not mean it will be active. Some seasons like 1968 and 1997 started early and ended up being quiet. On the other hand, 1961, 1969, 1998, and 2004 started late and ended up being active and devastating season.

I still think this season could be less active than 2010 and 2011, where they each had 19 storms. My prediction for 2012 is 13 storms, 5 hurricanes, and 2 major hurricanes with an accumulated cyclone energy (ACE) of 95. The forecast is subject to change due to various factors. The analog years for 2012 are 1957, 1965, 2001, 2006, and 2009.

The reason I think those years are analog for 2012 are that they went from La Nina to El Nino in one year. Also, they were in a warmer phase of the Atlantic. Many forecast models are predicting that we could see El Nino as early as late summer or early fall. Frankly, I think we will see El Nino this year, most likely a weak to moderate El Nino. Even if El Nino develops, there can be active seasons, like in 1969 and 2004. They started active and went into overdrive. Both were devastating years in the form of Camille (1969), Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne in 2004.

I am thinking this season could see more home grown storms, storms that form closer to land than out in the Atlantic. That puts America at higher risk for landfall since they are closer to land. One interesting fact, America has not seen a Category 3+ hurricane make landfall since Wilma in 2005. I think we may see a major hurricane make landfall on America and it will not be pretty.

The area with unusually warm water is the Gulf of Mexico, an area that did not see much development in 2010 and 2011. Those years saw most of the development in Main Development Region (MDR), where Cape Verde storms form. MDR this time around is cooler than normal due to a positive North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO). The Gulf of Mexico is warmer due to the warm winter of 2011-2012.

Regardless of how active or inactive this season is, we should always be prepared. It only takes one.

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