The Intersection

Just read the following in the Washington Times from an April 28 article:

With the official start of hurricane season days away, meteorologists are unanimous that the 2006 tropical storm season, which runs from June 1 through November, is likely to be a doozy. The first tropical storm of this season showered light rain yesterday on Acapulco, a Mexican Pacific resort, but forecasters said the weather could worsen. Tropical storm Aletta was stalled 135 miles from Acapulco, with maximum winds of 45 mph, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami, which said the storm could move toward land today.

Now, what’s wrong with this? Well, as the National Hurricane Center makes clear, there have not been any storms yet in the Atlantic. Tropical Storm Aletta formed in the Eastern Pacific (west of Mexico), which is a different basin, and whose season begins on May 15 of the year, not June 1 as is the case with the Atlantic.

Am I nitpicking over this? Well, not really. After all, it would have been noteworthy if Aletta had been an Atlantic storm forming this early in the year. One of the arguments about global warming’s influence on hurricanes is that it may be lengthening the average storm season on both ends. No one storm can prove a trend of this kind, but an Atlantic storm this early certainly would have been suggestive. As it is, however, it doesn’t seem like we’re going to be seeing any Atlantic storms before June 1 at this point…or at any rate, they have about a day to go….


  1. #1 Mark Paris
    May 30, 2006

    No, you are not being picky on this. Perhaps they are unaware that Mexico actually faces two completely different oceans, each with its very own weather systems.

  2. #2 Jim Ramsey
    May 30, 2006


    As that great “conservative”, Stephen Colbert, might say. You are just too caught up in liberal factiness.

    Your gut tells you the Pacific and Atlantic oceans are all part of the same thing — salt water. So go with your gut. Don’t let the little details get in your way.

  3. #3 Steve Bloom
    May 30, 2006

    Chris, the Atlantic basin did have SSTs capable of TC formation a month ago, but as is usual this time of year wind shear made that nearly impossible. Remember that last year there wasn’t an especially early start to the season either. It did have a very late conclusion, but of course would still have been the record season even with the December storms removed from the equation. I don’t have time to check the sources, but I think the basis for the predictions of earlier starts to the Atlantic basin season may be for La Nina years only, since that’s when the shear goes away early. Still, even occasional active Mays would be pretty noticeable. So, the proof of the pudding will be the first strong La Nina year (assuming the heightened SST trend continues). Another active December would also be noteworthy, although of course we won’t be able to call a two-year weather trend a climate trend.

  4. #4 Steve Bloom
    May 30, 2006

    Small detail: Different basins, but these two are not wholly unrelated. Occasionally a storm crosses over.

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