Even though we haven’t really felt it in the United States, it has been a hell of an Atlantic hurricane season. 19 named storms, 12 hurricanes–and now the latest, Category 2 Tomas, seems like it may become very intense in the Caribbean. Some notes on Tomas from Jeff Masters:
Tomas’ formation ties 2010 with 1995 and 1887 for 3rd place for most number of named storms in an Atlantic hurricane season. Only 2005 (28 named storms) and 1933 (21 named storms) were busier. Atlantic hurricane records go back to 1851, though there were likely many missed named storms prior to the beginning of satellite coverage in the mid-1960s. The intensification of Shary and Tomas into hurricanes… brings the total number of hurricanes this season to twelve, tying 2010 with 1969 and 1887 for second place for most hurricanes in a season. The record is held by 2005 with fifteen hurricanes, and I don’t think we’ll beat that record this year!
The formation of Tomas so far south and east this late in the season is unprecedented in the historical record; no named storm has ever been present east of the Lesser Antilles (61.5°W) and south of 12°N latitude so late in the year…
But hey, water temperatures are at a record warmth–so what do you expect? Marc Morano a few days ago made hay of the fact that no hurricanes have hit the US this year, but big deal. It has been extremely busy nonetheless, and of course this has much to do with the very warm ocean out there.
Many people are confused about the relationship between weather and climate, and Jeff Masters did a nice job of explaining the difference today on NPR’s Morning Edition:
Meteorologist Jeff Masters, with the Web site Weather Underground, says it’s average temperatures — not snowfall — that really measure climate change.
“Because if it’s cold enough to snow, you will get snow,” Masters says. “We still have winter even if temperatures have warmed on average, oh, about 1 degree Fahrenheit over the past 100 years.”
Masters say that 1 degree average warming is not enough to eliminate winter. Or storms.
A storm is part of what scientists classify as weather. Weather is largely influenced by local conditions and changes week to week. It’s fickle — fraught with wild ups and downs.
Climate is the long-term trend of atmospheric conditions across large regions, even the whole planet. Changes in climate are slow and measured in decades, not weeks.
Go listen to the full clip by Christopher Joyce here.