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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Norman Issues,SPC follows

Member Since: Juli 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127701
BFOTR: +1
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517. beell


MESOSCALE DISCUSSION 0343
NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK
1025 AM CDT MON APR 04 2011

AREAS AFFECTED...N CNTRL MS...NWRN AL...MIDDLE TN

CONCERNING...TORNADO WATCH 89...

VALID 041525Z - 041730Z

THE SEVERE WEATHER THREAT FOR TORNADO WATCH 89 CONTINUES.

ADDITIONAL TORNADO WATCHES ARE LIKELY TO BE NEEDED DOWNSTREAM OF
WATCH 89...FROM PORTIONS OF CNTRL MS NEWD INTO MIDDLE TN.

RADAR IMAGERY SHOWS INTENSIFYING BOW STRUCTURES ALONG THE COLD FRONT
OVER SRN AR...WITH CELLULAR ACTIVITY AHEAD OF THE COLD FRONT INTO
WRN TN. THE TN ACTIVITY MAY GRADUALLY BECOME BETTER ESTABLISHED AS
LOW LEVEL THETA E ADVECTION CONTINUES BENEATH A CAPPING INVERSION.
VAD/PROFILER DATA INDICATE SHEAR PROFILES ACROSS THE ENTIRE WARM
SECTOR ARE FAVORABLE FOR LONG LIVED SEVERE STORMS CAPABLE OF A FEW
TORNADOES AND DAMAGING WINDS.

THE SRN AR/NRN LA ACTIVITY HAS BECOME LARGELY LINEAR SUGGESTING
DAMAGING WINDS BUT MAY EXHIBIT AREAS OF ROTATION EMBEDDED WITHIN THE
LINE WITH A FEW TORNADOES POSSIBLE. EXISTING CELLULAR ACTIVITY AHEAD
OF THE SQUALL LINE...AND ANY FURTHER ISOLATED DEVELOPMENT...MAY HAVE
A BETTER CHANCE AT PRODUCING TORNADOES BEFORE THE COLD FRONT
OVERTAKES THE AREA.

FARTHER N WRN/CNTRL KY...DESTABILIZATION WILL CONTINUE MAINLY DUE TO
ADVECTION WITH A GRADUAL INCREASE IN SEVERE THREAT. OBJECTIVE
ANALYSIS SHOWS DEEPENING EFFECTIVE PARCEL LAYER/SRH OVER WRN TN/KY
AS MID 60S F DEWPOINTS SPREAD NWD. A TORNADO AND DAMAGING WIND
THREAT WILL INCREASE WITH THIS ACTIVITY AS IT DEVELOPS EWD INTO
CNTRL KY THIS AFTERNOON.

..JEWELL.. 04/04/2011
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WOW look at the size and strength of the Anti-Cyclone almost right above TD02/95W.

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New nado watch:

Tornado Watch 91 is in effect until 600 PM CDT for the
following locations

La
. Louisiana parishes included are

almost all of them...but not NOLA.

Interesting that the WUemail has it, but SPC page does not, yet.
(Though, it might by the time I hit "Post Comment")
http://www.spc.noaa.gov/products/watch/

EDIT: And so it does...
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Quoting hurricanejunky:


Cling to that...I don't think my measly 1.7 acres is gonna need to be subdivided anytime soon.

I would LOVE to have some acreage, my wife and I just can't afford it... yet. Next house we build, it will be on at least an acre.
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5875
Quoting Neapolitan:

Oh, not everything; just those who would willingly defile, despoil, and destroy my planet and its future for nothing more than a few bags of gold. Unfortunately, there are a lot of such people out there right now--many, in fact, in Congress on both sides of the aisle--so I feel it's my right and my duty as both an American and a citizen of Earth to speak up. And as it turns out, speaking softly, respectfully, and politely has failed, as the despoilers interpret that politeness as softness. Because of that, I've stepped things up a bit. That's all. I'm really a nice guy. I swear. ;-)


I have quit reading your posts. A dash of sarcasm thrown into the soup can make things interesting. A steady diet of it makes for bitter fare.

Time and place for everything and alol that...
I encourage you to open your own blog if your wish is to continue with the Japan news and political stuff.

You may not see your comments as political, but they come across as intense statements intended to scare off any ghost of opposition.

Your behind-the-scenes supporters are cowards.

Just for the record, I'd rather see green energy development than nuclear. I think most people would.
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511. beell
Quoting hydrus:
Mornin R.E..Take a look at this water vapor loop if you have a moment. There is a unusual gravity wave or outflow boundary moving south that extends from Central Texa all the way to Alabama....It is weird..Link


Put me down for a gravity wave, fwiw. Would have to dig a little deeper to see if it could be traced back to the collapse of an overshooting t-storm over KS? OK? Seemed to juice up the t-storm over NE TX as it passed.

A "bump" in the lift/forcing.

Good eye, good catch!
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Hi all, Looks like an early start to the WPAC season. TD01W is dead and TD02W(AMANG/95W) will soon follow. 2 early April TD's shows that La Nina is on the way out.

Also, I would like to correct Dr. Masters Blog entry. Supertyphoon 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. This is wrong. Super-Typhoon Megi Hit the Philippines as a Cat 5 Super-Typhoon, not as a Cat 3 Typhoon. Megi weakened to a Cat 2 Typhoon after traversing Northern Luzon, Philippines. James Reynolds was there and recorded it. When it made landfall on October 18, it became one of the strongest tropical cyclones recorded to make landfall. Megi was the strongest typhoon to hit the Philippines in four years.
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Quoting hydrus:
Mornin R.E..Take a look at this water vapor loop if you have a moment. There is a unusual gravity wave or outflow boundary moving south that extends from Central Texa all the way to Alabama....It is weird..Link


Whats great about that image is you see the primary trough which is now over northern Texas, Oklahoma. And you see the secondary trough dropping in a reinforcement through SD, and Nebraska
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Quoting RitaEvac:
As the population increases, I guarantee you Uncle Sam is gonna domain property owners for their land and make them subdivide it for more people to live on. They're not gonna let one family sit on acreage and hog up land.


Cling to that...I don't think my measly 1.7 acres is gonna need to be subdivided anytime soon.
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Quoting hydrus:
I dunno...I,ve put up the G.O.M. loop and zooming in for a closer look....Link


Might be related to this..

http://www.youtube.com/v/q9S0z1ofcIc


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There is reported entrapment due to a building collapse from a tornado in Ballard County Ky (Paducah ) area. Tornado warned cell moving 65 -70 MPH. I am surprised they have not extended the watch boxes to the East yet. Bet it comes rather quickly.
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Good morning, Neapolitan. I admire your energy.
Most of us cannot muster the strength or the will.
Anyway, the work is here and won't get done without me. Have a great day everyone.
Hopes for civil intelligent discussion from both sides.

someone said over the weekend the GOM is warmer than it was in 05 and last year at this time.
is this correct?

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Quoting RitaEvac:
Maybe it's a shockwave like outflow from last nights explosive development in the plains and upper midwest
I dunno...I,ve put up the G.O.M. loop and zooming in for a closer look....Link
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Quoting MrMixon:


Heck yeah, that wave is moving south and fast! It travels the entire north-south extent of Mississippi in ~6 hours (that's an average speed of close to 60mph). It looks like outflow, but it's at a massive scale and there are a whole series of ripples behind the initial wave. Anyone here know if this is, indeed, outflow?
My best guess is gravity waves...When thunderstorms collapse rapidly, it has the same effect on the atmosphere as dropping a big rock in a pond of water....You may have already known that..I mention it in passing....We are about to be hit yet again by another round of severe weather...
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Quoting eddy12:
neo criticizes the people in japan for shooting sawdust, paper and diapers into reactor hoping they will swell up and plug the hole i believe they are trying anything they can think of if he has a better idea i would love to hear it and i am sure they would too

I never said I had any better answers. But then again, I'm not licensed to run a nuclear reactor. If I were, I can pretty much assure you that my safety plans would have included placing backup generators actually above the water, just as my emergency plans for plugging holes in the reactor caused by a major earthquake would have called for something more sophisticated than diapers, sawdust, and day-old newspapers. (In much the same way, BP's solution for stopping a massive oil spill a mile beneath the waves should have probably called for something more than crushed tennis balls and athletic shoes.) That's all. Now, I agree that not every little contingency can possibly be foreseen and thus prepared for. But you'd have to admit that some things seem like pretty much a no-brainer; it's not as though an undersea oil pipe breaking or an earthquake-induced tsunami is an unprecedented event.
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Quoting hydrus:
Mornin R.E..Take a look at this water vapor loop if you have a moment. There is a unusual gravity wave or outflow boundary moving south that extends from Central Texa all the way to Alabama....It is weird..Link


Heck yeah, that wave is moving south and fast! It travels the entire north-south extent of Mississippi in ~6 hours (that's an average speed of close to 60mph). It looks like outflow, but it's at a massive scale and there are a whole series of ripples behind the initial wave. Anyone here know if this is, indeed, outflow?
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is it the wind shift at 200-300mb?

Quoting RitaEvac:


If you speed it up real fast it goes thru Florida as well...
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496. beell
Quoting jeffs713:

Wow. They nailed it yesterday.


Yes they did, Jeffs. I'd have been bragging if it was my forecast! Certainly nailed the MOD risk!
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Quoting 1900hurricane:
What a great day for my radar to be down...


Check out the Houston radar. It still hits the B/CS area.
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5875
What a great day for my radar to be down...

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Quoting beell:
Yesterday's Initial SPC Day 1 Outlook issued 06Z 04/03 and Preliminary Reports


Wow. They nailed it yesterday.
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5875
490. beell
Yesterday's Initial SPC Day 1 Outlook issued 06Z 04/03 and Preliminary Reports

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Maybe it's a shockwave like outflow from last nights explosive development in the plains and upper midwest
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Quoting hydrus:
Mornin R.E..Take a look at this water vapor loop if you have a moment. There is a unusual gravity wave or outflow boundary moving south that extends from Central Texa all the way to Alabama....It is weird..Link


If you speed it up real fast it goes thru Florida as well...
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The irony of post 467 made me smile.

Pot, kettle, etc.
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Quoting RitaEvac:
As the population increases, I guarantee you Uncle Sam is gonna domain property owners for their land and make them subdivide it for more people to live on. They're not gonna let one family sit on acreage and hog up land.
Mornin R.E..Take a look at this water vapor loop if you have a moment. There is a unusual gravity wave or outflow boundary moving south that extends from Central Texa all the way to Alabama....It is weird..Link
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As the population increases, I guarantee you Uncle Sam is gonna domain property owners for their land and make them subdivide it for more people to live on. They're not gonna let one family sit on acreage and hog up land.
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Quoting jeffs713:

Heh.

Well, I cheat - I keep most of the other insects normally in the grass at bay (via Triazicide), which means if the frogs get hungry, their choices are: a mosquito, a mosquito, or.. a mosquito.


Exactly. The perk with sprinklers is that I can have them run overnight (when evaporation is at a minimum), keeping them from catching me as a "violator". What kind of public official is going to be driving around at 3am, looking for sprinkler violators?


during the height of our local water restrictions a few years ago here there were many with the same mindset that woke up to find tickets stuck to their front door or mailbox. That was back when we lived in suburban, deed restricted, cookie cutter home, 20 ft from your neighbor HELL!!! Never again, acreage is the only way to go!!!
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Quoting jeffs713:

"I had the timer set to run at 10:30 last night, on my day. Not my fault it didn't evaporate overnight."

(also, I should mention that I am outside the city limits of both Houston and Tomball, so only the county can enforce the water restriction)

One of my neighbors mentioned that they tend to be more lenient on people with built-in sprinklers, since those conserve water and tend to run when demand is the lowest.


True. It's mostly cities that put out the water rationing. Counties wont usually do it, they mostly do the fireworks ban.
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Quoting eddy12:
neopolitan he is a legend in his own mind


Eddy, like Junky said, he's smart and he's a great researcher. I personally think he sounds like a good person. What you don't like, some others like.
Member Since: Oktober 8, 2008 Posts: 14 Comments: 4553
Quoting eddy12:
no i just don't like people who criticize but have no real answers


There are plenty of real answers to be had, many of which have been mentioned here. Unfortunately, the volume of the money / profit trumpet drowns out everything else that opposes it including public safety it seems. Political wrangling will not allow common sense to win out. A great example of this can be found in energy. Natural gas and biodiesel are wonderful stopgap replacements for oil, especially foreign oil. We somehow can't find the political or monetary will to take the serious steps necessary to implement them in a serious and comprehensive way. It wouldn't take much except overcoming Big Oil's hold on Washington. This isn't a left or right issue, it's a national security and energy independence issue.
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Quoting RitaEvac:
When they drive by at 6-7 AM they will see the wet sidewalks and such

"I had the timer set to run at 10:30 last night, on my day. Not my fault it didn't evaporate overnight."

(also, I should mention that I am outside the city limits of both Houston and Tomball, so only the county can enforce the water restriction)

One of my neighbors mentioned that they tend to be more lenient on people with built-in sprinklers, since those conserve water and tend to run when demand is the lowest.
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5875
Quoting twincomanche:
It's not that at all it's his nasty attitude about near everything.

Oh, not everything; just those who would willingly defile, despoil, and destroy my planet and its future for nothing more than a few bags of gold. Unfortunately, there are a lot of such people out there right now--many, in fact, in Congress on both sides of the aisle--so I feel it's my right and my duty as both an American and a citizen of Earth to speak up. And as it turns out, speaking softly, respectfully, and politely has failed, as the despoilers interpret that politeness as softness. Because of that, I've stepped things up a bit. That's all. I'm really a nice guy. I swear. ;-)
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When they drive by at 6-7 AM they will see the wet sidewalks and such
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Quoting RitaEvac:
This aggravates the hell outta me seeing this




I wonder where the cap is...

There is PLENTY of low-level moisture out there... just higher temps at 5k feet (warmer than the surface, per the RUC soundings, actually). I've seen stronger caps, but this cap is pretty stout. In the summertime, we could probably break it if we had enough low-level convergence, but this time of year, we don't have the convective temp or the convergence for it.
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5875
Quoting hurricanejunky:


When the rainy season is heavier the Conservation 20/20 preserve nearby and ponds cause the frog population to explode causing incredibly loud, almost overpowering frog noise. The mosquitoes seem to outpace the frogs during the same time though or the frogs are slackers...


Heh.

Well, I cheat - I keep most of the other insects normally in the grass at bay (via Triazicide), which means if the frogs get hungry, their choices are: a mosquito, a mosquito, or.. a mosquito.

Quoting RitaEvac:


They'll order mandatory rationing, then they start fining people for using water on certain days. They did it in League City, but I kept watering anyway because I'm not losing my grass, cost a lot more to resod the yard than just paying a fine and a high water bill.

Exactly. The perk with sprinklers is that I can have them run overnight (when evaporation is at a minimum), keeping them from catching me as a "violator". What kind of public official is going to be driving around at 3am, looking for sprinkler violators?
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5875
This aggravates the hell outta me seeing this



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Quoting jeffs713:
Tried, but they don't last long out here due to rabies fears (had a few issues with that in the recent past in the area), and a lack of good habitat not in houses.

I also encourage frogs, since they seem to enjoy eating mosquitos too... When we moved into this house, my wife and I found one frog. 4 months later, we had 6. The more frogs we had, the less mosquito problems we had.


When the rainy season is heavier the Conservation 20/20 preserve nearby and ponds cause the frog population to explode causing incredibly loud, almost overpowering frog noise. The mosquitoes seem to outpace the frogs during the same time though or the frogs are slackers...

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Quoting jeffs713:

Yep. This drought is actually one of the reasons my wife and I chose to get sprinklers instead of a new washer and dryer. They cost more, but if water restrictions come into play (which they likely will out in Tomball, TX), our entire yard won't die. We've spent too much money (and time) on landscaping for everything to become tinder.


They'll order mandatory rationing, then they start fining people for using water on certain days. They did it in League City, but I kept watering anyway because I'm not losing my grass, cost a lot more to resod the yard than just paying a fine and a high water bill.
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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.