POSTED: Friday, February 28, 2014 - 4:05pm
UPDATED: Tuesday, April 1, 2014 - 9:35am
(El Paso) KTSM — Hurricanes are another deadly Natural Disaster we can not shield our selves from.
It also happens to be another topic discussed in my Natural Disaster class.
Even though we don't see hurricanes sweep through the borderland, we do see its effects pour down us. That's why we saw a heavy rain season in October here in El Paso.
But this past year we didn't see such an active hurricane season.
Before we get started on discussing whether 2014 hurricane season is shaping up to be another quiet one, lets review when and how hurricanes are formed.
We all know Hurricane season ends around October and it starts as early as June.
Hurricanes are basically a big ball of energy.
The ocean releases all the latent heat it builds up from the sun and spits it out in the form of Hurricanes.
Hurricanes can only form in warm water, that is why they form in the Atlantic ocean, and usually come off from the coast in West Africa.
Once they start moving toward the Caribbean, they build up force and can become very deadly.
The reason we see hurricanes mainly toward the end of the season is because as the ocean bakes in the sun, it builds up heat all through the summer, and once it can't hold any more heat, it releases it as a hurricane usually by October.
The biggest threat to hurricanes are dry and cold air. If there are strong winds above the ocean, a hurricane can not form.
This also goes for when it makes landfall. If there is a cold front tracking close the the coast, the cold air will definitely weaken the storm.
Remember Hurricane Katrina in 2005? It may not have been the most deadliest hurricane, but it certainly was the one of the costliest.
It started off far in the Atlantic and began moving toward North America. There were no strong winds at that time, a perfect recipe for the birth of this storm.
It wasn't as intense at first, and as it approached Florida, it began building up power.
The biggest nightmare for meteorologists at the time was that Katrina would cross Florida and build up power in the Gulf of Mexico.
And that's exactly what happened.
It began losing power once it crossed Florida, but the minute the hurricane landed in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, it gained force and became a category 5.
Once it it made landfall in Mississippi and Louisiana, it turned to a category 3 with winds of a category 5. At that time there weren't any storm systems to weaken Katrina or to stop it from spreading any further, and that's what caused so much damage.
This past hurricane season wasn't as intense.
The total of 13 named storms was one more than the 30-year average of 12 named storms.
Last year, the equatorial Pacific was in a neutral state, neither El Niño, or its opposite, La Niña, was in play.
Increased wind during stronger El Niño events tends to suppress tropical cyclone development.
So are we expecting a La Nina or El Nino this year?
According to Meteorologist for Weather Underground, Tyler Standfield, at this point, it looks like there will be an increase in EL Nino events which means those winds will build up over the ocean decreasing the chance for major hurricanes to develop during the season and decrease the chance for a hurricane landfall.
This doesn't mean we are in the clear. Just because not many hurricanes are being forecasted this season doesn't mean we are in for a "good hurricane season." It only takes one major hurricane to make landfall to turn a "good" season into a "bad" one.
According to Stanfield's blog, these are his forecasted numbers of hurricanes this season.
"For the upcoming season I foresee nine to twelve named storms, three to six hurricanes, and zero to two major hurricanes. My targeted numbers are ten named storms, three hurricanes, and 1 major hurricane.
9-12 Named Storms (10 Named Storms)
3-6 Hurricanes (3 Hurricanes)
0-2 Major Hurricanes (1 Major Hurricane)"
For more on his blog: http://www.wunderground.com/blog/TylerStanfield/show.html