Skip to main content

Ready or not, Hurricane Season is upon us. June 1st marks the first day of the Atlantic Hurricane Season and it run through November 30th. The “experts” at the Department of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University has released their forecast for the 2022 Atlantic Hurricane season. They are anticipating the Atlantic basin will have above normal activity. Current weak La Nina conditions look fairly likely to transition to a neutral El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) by this summer/fall, but the odds of a significant El Nino seem unlikely. Sea surface temperatures averaged across the eastern and central tropical Atlantic are currently near average, while Caribbean and subtropical Atlantic sea surface temperatures are warmer than normal. They are also anticipating an above average probability for major hurricanes to make landfall along the continental United States. With that said, they are predicting 19 named storms, 9 hurricanes, and 4 major hurricanes.

Inevitably, residents up and down the coastline and even those living inland will pay more attention to the weather during hurricane season. It is important to familiarize yourself with some of the terms that might be used during the weather report. Below are some of the common terms that could be discussed:

  • Invest – when an area of disturbed weather becomes increasingly organized, the National Hurricane Center will designate it an “Invest” which is short for investigative area.
  • Tropical Cyclone – a generic term used to describe tropical depressions, tropical storms, and hurricanes. A tropical cyclone is characterized by a lack of warm/cold fronts attached, a “warm core” (air is warmer in the center of the system than elsewhere), and persistent convection.
  • Tropical Depression (T.D.) – a tropical cyclone in which the maximum sustained surface wind speed is less than 39 mph. Upon being designated a T.D., the National Hurricane Center give it a number. When a named tropical storm weakens into a tropical depression, it retains the name
  • Tropic Storm (T.S.) – a tropical cyclone in which maximum sustained surface winds speed ranges from 39‐73 mph. Upon becoming a tropical storm, the National Hurricane Center issues it a name.
  • Hurricane – a tropical cyclone in which the maximum sustained surface wind seed is 74 mph.
  • Major Hurricane – a hurricane that is classified as a Category 3 or higher (winds of 111 mph or higher).
  • Eye Wall/Wall Cloud – an organized band or ring of cumulonimbus clouds that surround the eye, or light‐wind center of a tropical cyclone.
  • Eye – the roughly circular area of a comparatively light winds that encompasses the center of a severe tropical cyclone. The eye is either completely or partially surrounded by the eyewall cloud
  • Storm Surge – an abnormal rise in sea level accompanying a hurricane or other intense storm, and whose height is the difference between the observed level of the sea surface and the level that would have occurred in the absence of the cyclone. Storm surge is usually estimated by subtracting the normal astronomic high tide from the observed storm tide.
  • Storm Surge Watch – the danger of life threatening inundation from rising water moving inland from the shoreline somewhere within the specified area, generally within 48 hours, in association with an ongoing or potential tropical cyclone.
  • Storm Surge Warning – the danger of life threatening inundation from rising water moving inland from the shoreline somewhere within the specified area, generally within 36 hours, in association with an ongoing or potential tropical cyclone.
  • Hurricane Watch – an announcement that sustained winds of 74 mph or higher are possible within the specified area within 48 hours.
  • Hurricane Warning – an announcement that sustained winds of 74 mph or higher are expected somewhere within the specified area within 36 hours.

Until next time my friends, be prepared and stay safe.

Reference: “Extended range forecast of Atlantic seasonal hurricane activity and landfall strike probability for 2022” by Philip K. Klotzbach and Michael M. Bell and “Glossary of NHC Terms” by The National Hurricane Center.