The global tropical cyclone season of 2010: record inactivity

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 01:14 AM GMT am 03. April 2011

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The year 2010 was one of the strangest on record globally for tropical cyclones. Each year, the globe has about 92 tropical cyclones--called hurricanes in the Atlantic and Eastern Pacific, typhoons in the Western Pacific, and tropical cyclones in the Southern Hemisphere. But in 2010, we had just 68 of these storms--the fewest since the dawn of the satellite era in 1970. The previous record slowest year was 1977, when 69 tropical cyclones occurred world-wide. Both the Western Pacific and Eastern Pacific had their quietest seasons on record in 2010, the Atlantic had its 3rd busiest season since record keeping began in 1851, and the Southern Hemisphere had a below average season. As a result, the Atlantic, which ordinarily accounts for just 13% of global cyclone activity, accounted for 28% in 2010--the greatest proportion since accurate tropical cyclone records began in the 1970s. Global Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) for 2010 was the lowest since the late 1970s (ACE is a measure of the total destructive power of a hurricane season, based on the number of days strong winds are observed.)


Figure 1. Visible satellite image of 2010's strongest tropical cyclone: Super Typhoon Megi at 2:25 UTC October 18, 2010. A reconnaissance aircraft measured a central pressure of 885 mb and surface winds of 190 mph in the storm, making Megi the 8th strongest tropical cyclone in world history. Image credit: NASA.

A record quiet 2010 Northwest Pacific Typhoon Season
The Western Pacific set records for fewest number of named storms (fifteen, previous record seventeen in 1998) and typhoons (nine, tied with the previous record of nine in 1998. Note that Tropical Storm Mindulle was upgraded to a typhoon in post-analysis after the season was over.) Reliable records began in the mid-1960s. For just the second year in history, the Atlantic had more named storms and hurricane-strength storms than the Western Pacific. The only other year this occurred was in 2005. Ordinarily, the Western Pacific has double to triple the amount of tropical cyclones of the Atlantic. One other notable feature of the 2010 season was the lack of a land-falling typhoon on the Japanese mainland. This is only the second such occurrence since 1988.

In 2010, there was only one super typhoon--a storm with at least 150 mph winds--in the Western Pacific. However, this storm, Super Typhoon Megi, was a doozy. Megi's sustained winds cranked up to a fearsome 190 mph and its central pressure bottomed out at 885 mb on October 16, making it the 8th most intense tropical cyclone in world history. Fortunately, Megi weakened significantly before hitting the Philippines as a Category 3 typhoon. Megi killed 69 people on Taiwan and in the Philippines and did $700 million in damage, and was the second deadliest and damaging typhoon of 2010. Category 3 Typhoon Fanapi was the deadliest and most damaging typhoon of 2010, doing over $1 billion in damage to Taiwan and China and killing 105.

The record quiet typhoon season in 2010 was due, in part, to the La Niña phenomena. During such events, the formation region for Western Pacific typhoons moves northwestward, closer to China. Thus, storms that form in the Western Pacific spend less time over water before they encounter land, resulting in a lesser chance to become a named storm, and less time to intensify. They also accumulate a lower ACE due to their shorter duration. Since the Western Pacific is responsible for 35% of the world's major tropical cyclones, the global ACE value is strongly tied to year-to-year variations in the El Niño/La Niña cycle.


Figure 2.
Statistics for the global tropical cyclone season of 2010. The two numbers in each box represent the actual number observed in 2010, followed by the averages from the period 1983-2007 (in parentheses). Averages and records were computed using the December 23, 2008 release of NOAA's International Best Track Archive for Climate Stewardship.

A record quiet 2010 Eastern Pacific Typhoon Season
In the Eastern Pacific, it was also a record-quiet season. On average, the Eastern Pacific has 15 named storms, 8 hurricanes, and 3 intense hurricanes in a season. In 2010, there were 8 named storms, 3 hurricanes, and 2 intense hurricanes. The previous record quietest season since 1966 was the year 1977, when the Eastern Pacific had 8 named storms, 4 hurricanes, and zero intense hurricanes. La Niña was largely responsible for the quiet Eastern Pacific hurricane season, due in part to the cool sea surface temperatures it brought. It is quite remarkable that both the Eastern and Western Pacific ocean basins had record quiet seasons in the same year--there is no historical precedent for such an occurrence.

Climate change and the 2008 global tropical cyclone season
We only have about 30 years of reliable global tropical cyclone data, and tropical cyclones are subject to large natural variations in numbers and intensities. Thus, it will be very difficult at present to prove that climate change is affecting global tropical cyclone activity. (This is less so in the Atlantic, where we have a longer reliable data record to work with.) A common theme of many recent publications on the future of tropical cyclones globally in a warming climate is that the total number of these storms will decrease, but the strongest storms will get stronger. For example, a 2010 review paper published in Nature Geosciences concluded: "greenhouse warming will cause the globally averaged intensity of tropical cyclones to shift towards stronger storms, with intensity increases of 2 - 11% by 2100. Existing modeling studies also consistently project decreases in the globally averaged frequency of tropical cyclones, by 6 - 34%. Balanced against this, higher resolution modeling studies typically project substantial increases in the frequency of the most intense cyclones, and increases of the order of 20% in the precipitation rate within 100 km of the storm centre." Last year, I discussed a paper by Bender et al that concluded that the total number of Atlantic hurricanes is expected to decrease by the end of the century, but there could be an increase of 81% in the number of Category 4 and 5 storms. The net effect of a decrease in total number of hurricanes but an increase in the strongest hurricanes should cause an increase in U.S. hurricane damages of about 30% by the end of the century, the authors computed, assuming that hurricane damages behave as they did during the past century. A new paper just published by Murakami et. al predicts that Western Pacific tropical cyclones may decrease in number by 23% by the end of the century, primarily due to a shift in the formation location and tracks of these storms.

In light of these theoretical results, it is interesting that 2010 saw the lowest number of global tropical cyclones on record, but an average number of very strong Category 4 and 5 storms. Fully 21% of last year's tropical cyclones reached Category 4 or 5 strength, versus just 14% during the period 1983 - 2007. Most notably, in 2010 we had the second strongest tropical cyclone on record in the Arabian Sea (Category 4 Cyclone Phet in June) and the strongest tropical cyclone ever to hit Myanmar/Burma (October's Tropical Cyclone Giri, an upper end Category 4 storm with 155 mph winds.) It is too early to read anything into this year's global tropical cyclone numbers, though--we need many more years of data before making any judgments on how global tropical cyclones might be responding to climate change.


Figure 3. Visible satellite image of Tropical Cyclone Phet on Thursday, June 3, 2010. Record heat over southern Asia in May helped heat up the Arabian Sea to 2°C above normal, and the exceptionally warm SSTs helped fuel Tropical Cyclone Phet into the second strongest tropical cyclone ever recorded in the Arabian Sea. Phet peaked at Category 4 strength with 145 mph winds. Only Category 5 Cyclone Gonu of 2007, which devastated Oman, was a stronger Arabian Sea cyclone. Phet killed 44 people and did $700 million in damage to Oman.


Figure 4. Visible MODIS satellite image of Tropical Cyclone Giri taken at 2:55am EDT October 22, 2010, just prior to landfall in Myanmar/Burma. At the time, Giri was a Category 4 storm with 145 mph winds. Giri killed 157 people and did $359 million in damage. Image credit: NASA.

Jeff Masters

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1169. Levi32
Quoting jeffs713:

looking at the anomaly map, it almost seems like a tripole is trying to set up, with a band of warm water across the MDR and another one near the polar regions, with a cooler-than-average band between the two. Wouldn't that tend to focus convection in the MDR? That being said, the band across the MDR is rather broad, which may help keep the focus more diffuse. (correct me if I'm wrong on any of this)


It's currently working towards the other way around from that. Notice the warmest belt of water is between 20N and 30N, not in the MDR, which has actually cooled relative to normal. This is to be expected with a positive AO/NAO and represents a more typical SST profile during a La Nina spring. That said, the cool MDR almost always warms up during the hurricane season and reverses the signal. 2008 was far colder than this at this time of the year.
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Quoting Skyepony:
Bolivar Peninsula: Buyout of storm properties one of largest in US



BOLIVAR PENINSULA, Texas — Two and a half years ago, the beach front along Avenue J in Crystal Beach featured a row of houses with a Gulf view and 200 feet of beach.

That was before Hurricane Ike.

Now, lots are vacant, and the beach is about 30 yards from what passes for a dune line. The properties that once lined the road now are owned by the county and will be vacant forever.

Galveston County is in the final stages of one of the largest property buyout programs in United States history.

Using $100 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Hazard Mitigation Program, the county has purchased 338 properties across the county and by year’s end should have ownership of about 650.

Most of those are on the Bolivar Peninsula — 434 in the community of Gilchrist alone.

The program aims to clear properties that are prone to flooding and damage that lead to repeated national flood insurance claims.

Public Space Forever more

About time.

That being said, while many people here in TX are up in arms about this, and the Texas Public Beaches act, I am personally all for it. Yes, buying them out is expensive, but it saves the gov't money in the long run. (I also don't think the owners should be "bought out" per say, but rather not permitted to rebuild... living on the beach has its consequences)
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5792
1167. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
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Quoting Levi32:
Atmospheric conditions in the Atlantic tell us precious little before May, at which point they become very important. SSTs, although over-weighted in people's minds, are great clues during the winter and spring, as they can tell you a lot about what the atmosphere will tend to be doing, and in general a warm Atlantic overall is going to support a more active hurricane season.

As an example, right now one can notice the cooling of the SSTs off the west coast of Africa, with the warmest belt of water displaced north of the deep tropics between 20N-30N. This is the attempt at getting the Atlantic SST profile to look more like a typical La Nina winter/spring, but it won't get there fully, because the abnormal La Nina pattern we had during the core of the winter allowed more heat to be retained in the tropical Atlantic. This can give us clues about the upcoming season.


looking at the anomaly map, it almost seems like a tripole is trying to set up, with a band of warm water across the MDR and another one near the polar regions, with a cooler-than-average band between the two. Wouldn't that tend to focus convection in the MDR? That being said, the band across the MDR is rather broad, which may help keep the focus more diffuse. (correct me if I'm wrong on any of this)
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5792
1165. Skyepony (Mod)
Bolivar Peninsula: Buyout of storm properties one of largest in US



BOLIVAR PENINSULA, Texas — Two and a half years ago, the beach front along Avenue J in Crystal Beach featured a row of houses with a Gulf view and 200 feet of beach.

That was before Hurricane Ike.

Now, lots are vacant, and the beach is about 30 yards from what passes for a dune line. The properties that once lined the road now are owned by the county and will be vacant forever.

Galveston County is in the final stages of one of the largest property buyout programs in United States history.

Using $100 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Hazard Mitigation Program, the county has purchased 338 properties across the county and by year’s end should have ownership of about 650.

Most of those are on the Bolivar Peninsula — 434 in the community of Gilchrist alone.

The program aims to clear properties that are prone to flooding and damage that lead to repeated national flood insurance claims.

Public Space Forever more
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1164. emcf30
Quoting CatfishJones:
@emcf30- Where/when was that? Nice video.


It was taken in Parker Colorado in August 2008
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From radar, I can see that the squall line is more intense over the penninsula where there is more heat and instability compared to the weaker radar echoes over the waters in the Gulf and Atlantic side, pretty cool.
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@emcf30- Where/when was that? Nice video.
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1161. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
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1160. Levi32
Atmospheric conditions in the Atlantic tell us precious little before May, at which point they become very important. SSTs, although over-weighted in people's minds, are great clues during the winter and spring, as they can tell you a lot about what the atmosphere will tend to be doing, and in general a warm Atlantic overall is going to support a more active hurricane season.

As an example, right now one can notice the cooling of the SSTs off the west coast of Africa, with the warmest belt of water displaced north of the deep tropics between 20N-30N. This is the attempt at getting the Atlantic SST profile to look more like a typical La Nina winter/spring, but it won't get there fully, because the abnormal La Nina pattern we had during the core of the winter allowed more heat to be retained in the tropical Atlantic. This can give us clues about the upcoming season.

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Quoting RastaSteve:


What I look for is trends and this could be a good trend for you so hopefully this trend continues!


We hope!
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1158. emcf30
img src=" ">

The best kind, over open land
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NOW this would not be good.....the above is the current Shear Anomaly. Shear is currently as a whole is running about 10-20MPH below normal.....SURE HOPE THIS TREND DOES NOT CONTINUE!
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Hope everyone will get rain that needs it, but nothing severe :)

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1151, yea but that's like saying a hurricane just entering the Carribbean is gonna hit me in SE TX in 10 days
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Quoting P451:
Every year the focus of the blog in Spring seems to be water temps. Of much more importance is the atmospheric conditions and this always goes unnoticed. Why is that? One track minds? Conditioned to believe water temps are the sole driver of tropical weather?

It could be 100F water and you will get no development if the shear, dust, and dry air layers are present.

Focus on the atmosphere not the water. If the atmosphere is perfect even marginal water temps can produce a dangerous cyclone. If the water is boiling hot nothing happens if the atmosphere isn't in a proper state.

Just trying to steer everyone's focus towards what is far more important here.

ATMOSPHERIC CONDITIONS are so far more important than Water Temperature ever will be.



HERE YOU GO!!!!!! Yes you are correct, but conditions this time of year really don't ever to be good. SST's are just one thing one can look at as a trend!









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1152. Guysgal
Very grim little map on projected climate change. To quote Martha Reese "No where to run, no where to hide"!
Link
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Ol' Miami gonna get smacked later
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Super cells out ahead of front NW of Bahamas
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1137, exactly
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Quoting DestinJeff:


true, but there aren't any trite metaphors to use to describe the perfect atmospheric conidtions the way we can say "The GOM is like a bathtub!" Or, something about fuel and explosive reactions when a TC passes through those SSTs. "SST" is like the gateway drug to talking about other elements, such as atmospherics. Most people will dabble in SSTs, but never will mainline atmospherics.

Very true. And I dabble in atmospherics. They are SUCH a rush, dude...

seriously, though... SSTs are much easier to understand than the atmospheric factors. With the atmosphere, you have to contemplate many abstract factors, such as SAL, dry layers, cap, shear, divergence, convergence, anti-cyclones, ULL, TUTTs, etc. With SSTs... its hot, or its cold, or just lukewarm. A 12-year old can understand the basics about SSTs (now when you start talking about TCHP and where the 26C isotherm is... then many people shut off).
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5792
Quoting P451:
Every year the focus of the blog in Spring seems to be water temps. Of much more importance is the atmospheric conditions and this always goes unnoticed. Why is that? One track minds? Conditioned to believe water temps are the sole driver of tropical weather?

It could be 100F water and you will get no development if the shear, dust, and dry air layers are present.

Focus on the atmosphere not the water. If the atmosphere is perfect even marginal water temps can produce a dangerous cyclone. If the water is boiling hot nothing happens if the atmosphere isn't in a proper state.

Just trying to steer everyone's focus towards what is far more important here.

ATMOSPHERIC CONDITIONS are so far more important than Water Temperature ever will be.


Atmospheric conditions are much more dynamic, and what the current atmospheric conditions are right now has very little impact on what they will be in June, much less how they will look in Aug/Sept. For example, last year was fairly slow-starting due to atmospheric conditions, but got roaring later.

For tropical forecasting, talking about water temps and ENSO is pretty much all we can do that isn't a complete waste of time.

Now, come May, you will see more talk about the atmosphere, and long-range model forecasts from CFS and such.
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5792
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1141. hydrus
Quoting Jedkins01:



isn't it getting a little chilly for the beach up there now behind the convective line? I mean here it went from 78 to 64 behind the squall line, now we just have a good steady rain coming down with the stratiform stuff.
64 ..chilly....HHHHAAAAAAA....
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 19521
1139. hydrus
Florida thundah...:)...Notice the sun shining on the storms from the east..
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 19521
Rain is moving off, but the satellite images show cloud cover increasing. I have work to do outside (in St.Petersburg, FL) with a cutoff time of 3pm est. Is the current passing line going to be pretty much the end of the rain, or is there going to be more developing?
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1134. Skyepony (Mod)
Quoting DestinJeff:
Tragic, but if government shuts down we lose those "SPS Storm Report" graphics.

On the plus side, there won't be any severe weather anymore.


Even if there is no shut down they are cutting back.. Noticed this morning the weather radio wasn't so much doing the specific area SAME format issuing a warning for each cell but issuing fewer Thunderstorm Warnings for large areas.. several counties more old school.
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Quoting cat5hurricane:

7.5 million. Get your facts right!

;-)

I'm the GOM is 7.5 million times its normal level (temp), I'm moving to Alaska.

(of course, by that time it would have long since boiled off, and we would all be very, very crispy, but I'm still moving to Alaska at that point)
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5792
If it was a flock of birds, it would mostly be Nanday Parakeets and Crows. Raptors, wading birds, and most songbirds generally move into covered forest areas rather than flee entirely (at least in my observation of the avian activity for non-cyclonic storms in this area). Herons and Egrets tend to continue fishing in heavy rain, etc. (I am by no means an expert, so if you find fault with my observations, please have no reservation of dismissing them)
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Quoting sunlinepr:
Japan's tsunami debris headed for West Coast
A Seattle oceanographer says some debris from Japan's tsunami and earthquake may wash up on the West Coast in about one to three years. Curt Ebbesmeyer says how fast the flotsam arrives depends on the material. A derelict vessel could take 12 months, while a rubber ducky may take two to three years. He says the floating debris will likely flow in a big circle, carried by currents from Japan to Washington, Oregon and British Columbia before turning toward Hawaii and back toward Asia. (Seattle Times)

Debris from that area could be radioactive...
while living on island of oahu i found a bottle the japanese fisherman use to float their nets hopefully the debris is not radioactive
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1128. beell
Slower frame rate.

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1127. aquak9
"..and I Raa-aa-aaan...I ran so far a-waaayyy.."
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1125. beell
Thanks for the answers, all. Jumped on in a hurry and the radar caught my eye. Did not realize it was already a current topic. Shoulda known, lol.

I'd go with birds. Ground clutter would be an answer if it was at the center of the radar site.


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1124. Jax82
The GOM is warming, especially the BOC.

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Interactive Map of Japan quakes
Play the timeline map below to see quakes magnitude 5 and greater before and after the strongest temblor to strike Japan in 140 years.
The timeline begins two days before the great quake, when a magnitude 7.2 earthquake hit off the coast shortly before noon March 9. All times are Japan Standard. Click on any icon for more details.

Link
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Quoting sunlinepr:
Japan says dumping radioactive water in ocean doesn't violate law - Tuesday 05th April, 06:40 PM JST

The Japanese government on Tuesday defended its dumping of massive low-level radioactive water from the crisis-hit Fukushima nuclear plant, saying the action does not violate international laws, and pledged to fully inform the international community of Tokyo%u2019s steps to tackle the ongoing emergency.
Experts have said that radiation dissipates quickly in the vast Pacific, but they have also said that it's unclear what the long-term effects of large amounts of contamination will be.

Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Tuesday that samples taken from seawater near one of the reactors contained 7.5 million times the legal limit for radioactive iodine on April 2. Two days later, that figure dropped to 5 million.


Any credibility left???
Comment: It would be a good practice for Every Food market in the US to provide radiation verification services to customers buying any fish and food from that area.



On Monday, officials detected more than 4,000 bequerels of iodine-131 per kilogram in a type of fish called a sand lance caught less than three miles offshore of the town of Kita-Ibaraki. The young fish also contained 447 bequerels of cesium-137, which is considered more problematic than iodine-131 because it has a much longer half-life.

TEPCO says the water has "low levels of radiation". So if 7.5 MILLION times the limit is "low", what is "high"? Glow-in-the-dark?

Regardless of the legality, it really, really isn't a good idea to release water laced with radioactive elements, especially if those elements have long half-lives and carcinogenic properties, such as Cs-137, Plutonium (various isotopes), and Strontium-90.

All of the elements I mentioned above are able to be absorbed into the human body, and once absorbed, they continue to emit radiation (mostly alpha and beta particles), and can cause internal radiation damage leading to cancer. Strontium-90 is particularly dangerous, as it is a "bone-seeker", and tends to replace calcium in bones, but continue to release radiation, contributing to bone cancer and leukemia.
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1120. RTLSNK
Quoting beell:
What's that on Ike's radar loop SE of Tampa(Post 1101)?

Birds? Any guesses?


That is what we've been discussing. If you pull up the Wunderground nexrad radar image for Tampa. Click on Local Radar. Then go to the bottom below the image and click on "Oldest". That takes you to the image at 0707 am this morning. If you then click on "Next" each time, it will take you forward in time, in 5 min increments, to 0803 am.

During that time period from 0707 until it seems to disappear after 0800 is what we are trying to figure out. :)
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About JeffMasters

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.