This week is Hurricane Preparedness Week at WJHG. With less than two weeks until the start of hurricane season now is the time to get you and your family prepared!!!
Everyone aways wants to know how many storms we will have. While seasonal forecasts are always interesting... it only takes 1 storm to have a very bad hurricane season. Take 1992 for example... we only had 4 hurricanes. Unfortunatey, one of those 4 was Hurricane Andrew which devasted South Florida and Louisiana.
Here is the 2012 Hurricane Season Forecast from Drs. Klotzbach and Gray at Colorado State University. You can see... this is forecast to be much quieter than the previous 2 seasons which went down tied for the 3rd most active ever! The National Hurricane Center releases their seasonal forecast on Thursday, 5/24. Expect it to be quieter as well.
The reasons for the quieter 2012 forecast is two fold... anomalously cool water over the Atlantic and a possible El Nino developing over the Pacific. El Nino typically creates a high shear environment over the Atlantic basin making storm formation more difficult. If it does form it won't be until the 2nd half of the season so the earlier part could be more active.
A lot of folks have also been asking me if the warm winter and therefore warmer than normal water tempertures in the Gulf will yield more storms? The answer.... maybe. It is important to remember that many ingregients go into storm development and water temperature is just one of them. Certainly though it will be one thing that we will look at when it comes to storm intensification.
I went back into our hurricane archive and searched for all category 3,4, or 5 storms that passed within 100miles of Panama City and you can see the result below. Eloise back in 1975 is our benchmark storm. Could you imagine the destruction if Eloise hit today?
Eloise had sustained winds of 125mph and produced a 12-16' storm surge! It was the 1st major hurricane to directly hit our region in the 20th century! It killed 21 people and caused $1 billion in damage.
I went into the archive to look at some more historic data as far as our storm frequency. This data comes from hurricane city.com.
Longest gap between storms
9 years 1975-1985
How often this area gets affected?
brushed or hit every 2.40 years
Average years between direct hurricane hits.(hurricane force wind gusts for a few hours)
(17h)once every 8.18 years
Average MPH of hurricane hits. (based on advisories sustained winds at closest approach, not gusts)
Statistically when Panama City should be affected next
before the end of 2012
This graph shows how long it has been since we last had a major hurricane make landfall in the U.S. As you can see... we are long overdue. More than 2400 days since our last landfall! That is the longest going back to 1900!
For the latest information on the tropics don't forget about our Tropical Weather Page @ wjhg.com. There you can find our interactive tracking map, surge zones, evacuation maps, and preparedness tips.
As always, never hesitate to contact me if you need anything at all or have any questions.
Chief Meteorologist, WJHG-TV