Do cyclones develop ‘off-season’ in the Atlantic?

NHC_building

Headquarters for the U.S. National Hurricane Center

In the Atlantic, the official dates for the hurricane season are 1 June – 30 November. This certainly doesn’t mean that cyclones only exist during this time frame, yet 97% of all cyclones that have developed have occurred during those months.  While we really won’t know exactly how many cyclones have developed out of season prior to 20th century technological advances, there is evidence of off-season storms in the Atlantic dating back to May of 1771, and more recently tropical storm Beryl in May of 2012. Most cyclones that develop out of season do not typically impact the U.S., but there have been more than handful that have, giving us pause to think what a fickle planet our Earth can be.

Data records of cyclones from the 18th, 19th, and early 20th century have to be taken with a grain of salt, as the technology advancements we enjoy now weren’t available then. However, it is interesting to note that in 1908, not one, but two cyclones developed outside of the seasonal timeline; the first occurred from March 6th-9th and impacted the Lesser Antilles with estimated winds of 100mph (161km/h); the second occurred from May 24th to May 31st with estimated winds of 75mph (121km/h), affecting the Outer Banks of North Carolina. The Outer Banks were impacted yet again in May of 1951 when Hurricane Able made landfall as a category 3 with winds of 115mph (185km/h). Hurricane Alice, a category 1 storm, became the first recorded to exist in two different calendar years, when it developed on December 30th, 1954, and dissipated on January 6th, 1955. This has occurred recently, with tropical storm Zeta developing on December 30th, 2005 and dissipating on January 7th, 2006.

Going back over the past 50 years, there have been several years that have seen more than one cyclone develop out of season; 1969 (2), 1973 (2), 2003 (3), 2005 (2), 2007 (2), and 2012 (2).

Tropical Storm Beryl (May 2012)

Tropical Storm Beryl (May 2012)

Of these years, it is interesting to note that in 2003, tropical cyclones developed both before and after the standard begin/end dates (1 June/30 November). Ana developed in April, and Odette and Peter continued the already lengthened season when they both developed in early December. Also of note is that during the 2012 season, both out of season storms occurred in May within a week of each other (Alberto and Beryl), and both did  impact the U.S. With the vast amount of satellite data stored at cyclonecenter.org, it is possible that you may classify images of Alberto and/or Beryl. The take-home from all of this is that while the majority of cyclones occur within a 5-month window, cyclones can develop any time of year, which is a good reason to stay aware of what is going on in the tropics all year long.

- Kyle Gayan is an undergraduate student in Atmospheric Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Asheville and is also a retired USAF Master Sergeant; his 20 years of service was spent exclusively in the weather career field. He recently joined the Cyclone Center team as a classifier and contributor to our social media.

CycloneCenter Participation for March 2014

March 2014 saw the most monthly classifications since March 2013!! Also, Citizen Scientist baha23 set an all time record with 4610 classifications in a month.

We reached a milestone of 300,000+ classifications on March 10th! We’ll have a highlight of the classifier who made that classification soon.

One table that doesn’t change much is the top 10 all time classifiers. But this month, we have a new citizen scientist on that list: skl6284, who moved into 9th place.  However, FrederikeLisanne could move onto the all time leaderboard with more months of 700+ classifications.

This month was very active. Calbeam had 243 classifications which would have been 4th place in January but is only 10th this month!

For March 2014, we had 15,666 classifications of 531 storms from 638 citizen scientists.

Top 10 most active citizen scientists for March 2014.

Classifications Scientist
4610 baha23
993 bretarn
984 skl6284
798 FrederikeLisanne
588 dmorsebell
362 fulikalter
348 librarianholly
337 albaminds
294 kaireky
243 Calbeam

Most active citizen scientists each month.

Month Number User
Sep 2012 658 atomic7732
Oct 2012 3667 chrisotahal
Nov 2012 3276 bretarn
Dec 2012 2747 bretarn
Jan 2013 2555 shocko61
Feb 2013 1714 shocko61
Mar 2013 1998 bretarn
Apr 2013 1474 ATMS103LGB
May 2013 1451 astroboyOW
Jun 2013 1084 bretarn
Jul 2013 976 Geeklette
Aug 2013 1051 skl6284
Sep 2013 431 tdw1203
Oct 2013 2733 baha23
Nov 2013 3737 baha23
Dec 2013 500 Atms345_ssc
Jan 2014 3064 baha23
Feb 2014 3455 baha23
Mar 2014 4610 baha23

Most active citizen scientists overall.

Classifications Scientist
22,582  bretarn
18,532  baha23
10,549  shocko61
5006  astroboyOW
3988  chrisotahal
3933  peterthorne
3470  cch001
3172  tpatch
2796 skl6284
2701 velthove

Postscript

Why was this monthly update so late? We receive weekly deliveries of data on Sundays, so we had to wait until Monday April 7th to complete the summary for March. Thanks for your patience.

CycloneCenter @ the AMS Tropical Meteorology Conference

CycloneCenter Principal investigator Dr. Chris Hennon of UNC-A presented some recent results at the American Meteorological Society Conference on Hurricanes and Tropical Meteorology going on this week in San Diego, CA.

Cyclone Center at AMS Tropical 2014

CycloneCenter Participation for February 2014

February saw more classifications than January, which had more than December!! Your hard work has us on a trajectory of increasing classifications!

This month, you accomplished a huge feat: You helped retire Tropical Cyclone REWA! TC Rewa formed in the South Pacific on Dec. 26 1993 and didn’t dissipate until Jan. 23, 1994 (29 days in all). There were 224 satellite images. Thanks to you, all the images have been analyzed! As the data for REWA shows, it lasted a long time, had a confusing track and also had a bit of disagreement on how intense the system actually was. Your classifications will help reduce these differences in intensity! Great work!

This month, baha23 stepped up again and accomplished a whopping 3000+ classifications to again lead the pack by a wide margin. As hinted at last month, atomic7732 is active again and has now made the monthly top 10.

March will likely be our next milestone: 300,000 classifications! Please help us get there soon! Check back here in April to see who makes the 300,000th classification!

For February 2014, we had 12,102 classifications of 418 storms from 651 citizen scientists.

Top 10 most active citizen scientists for February 2014.

Classifications Scientist
3455 baha23
805 bretarn
277 tdw1203
244 kcamelio134
144 fulikalter
141 atomic7732
138 wysocki1
106 187860
105 veryjoyful
100 shocko61

Thanks for making CycloneCenter.org a success! I hope to see your user ID here next month!

Most active citizen scientists each month.

Month

Number

User

Sep 2012

658

atomic7732

Oct 2012

3667

chrisotahal

Nov 2012

3276

bretarn

Dec 2012

2747

bretarn

Jan 2013

2555

shocko61

Feb 2013

1714

shocko61

Mar 2013

1998

bretarn

Apr 2013

1474

ATMS103LGB

May 2013

1451

astroboyOW

Jun 2013

1084

bretarn

Jul 2013

976

Geeklette

Aug 2013

1051

skl6284

Sep 2013

431

tdw1203

Oct 2013

2733

baha23

Nov 2013

3737

baha23

Dec 2013

500

Atms345_ssc

Jan 2014

3064

baha23

Feb 2014

3455

baha23

 At this rate, I wonder if we should pull a “Wheel of Fortune.” In that TV Game show, people chose common letters so often that the studio started showing those by default (R, S, T, L, N, E). Perhaps we might start doing the same with baha23.

Most active citizen scientists overall.

Classifications Scientist
21554  bretarn
12991  baha23
10327  shocko61
5006  astroboyOW
3988  chrisotahal
3917  peterthorne
3430  cch001
3172  tpatch
2672  velthove
2104  tdw1203

Featured Storm – Super Typhoon Fengshen (2002)

Origin and Track of Typhoon Fengshen

Origin and Track of Typhoon Fengshen

Typhoon Fengshen was the strongest storm of the 2002 Pacific typhoon season. It developed on July 13 near the Marshall Islands and rapidly intensified due to its small size. Fengshen went from being a tropical depression to a cyclone in only 6 hours. By July 15, Fengshen was given typhoon status, and after initially moving to the north, it turned toward the northwest. On July 18, the typhoon reached its peak intensity of 185 km/h (115 mph), according to the Japan Meteorological Agency; the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) estimated peak winds of 270 km/h (165 mph). Disparities like this between agencies are the driving force behind the creation/purpose of  Cyclone Center, and with your help these dissimilarities can be smoothed out. Your classifications are important to us, so we ask that you please take a moment and provide your input on Typhoon Fengshen to help us determine its peak winds.

Typhoons Fengshen (north) and Fung-Wong

Typhoons Fengshen (north) and Fung-Wong (south) undergo the Fujiwhara effect

The JTWC estimated that Fengshen was a super typhoon for five days, which broke the record for longest duration at that intensity. This record would later be tied by Typhoon Ioke in 2006. While approaching peak intensity, Typhoon Fengshen underwent the Fujiwhara effect with Typhoon Fung-wong, causing the latter storm to loop to its south. The Fujiwhara effect is when two nearby cyclonic vortices orbit each other and close the distance between the circulations of their corresponding low-pressure areas. Interaction of smaller circulations can cause the development of a larger cyclone, or cause two cyclones to merge into one.

Fengshen gradually weakened while approaching Japan, and it crossed over the country’s Ōsumi Islands on July 25 as a severe tropical storm. The typhoon swept a freighter ashore, killing four of the 19 crew members aboard. In Japan, Fengshen dropped heavy rainfall that caused mudslides and left $4 million (¥475 million Japanese Yen) in crop damage. After affecting Japan, Fengshen weakened in the Yellow Sea to a tropical depression, before moving across China’s Shandong Peninsula and dissipating on July 28. The typhoon produced strong winds and heavy rain in Japan. A station in Miyazaki Prefecture reported the highest rainfall in Japan with a total of 717 mm (28.2 in). Most of the precipitation fell in a 24 hour period, and the heaviest 1 hour total was 52 mm (2.0 in) in Taira, Toyama. The remnants of Fengshen produced heavy rainfall in northeastern China. The storm affected the capital city of Beijing, becoming the first storm to produce significant impact there since Typhoon Rita in 1972.

- Kyle Gayan is an undergraduate student in Atmospheric Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Asheville and is also a retired USAF Master Sergeant; his 20 years of service was spent exclusively in the weather career field. He recently joined the Cyclone Center team as a classifier and contributor to our social media.

CycloneCenter Participation for January 2014

January saw more classifications than December, largely due to a resurgence of active classifiers. This month, baha23 stepped up and accomplished a whopping 3000+ classifications to lead the pack by a wide margin. There were also some surprises in the active user list. In September 2012, Atomic7732 was our top classifier in our first month, but had been relatively quiet since. In January, Atomic7732 returned to cyclone center and barely missed the top 10 by only 4 classifications!

January also saw four first-time top tenners: jasony23, sfrudy, user:”205400″, and Gemmabeta. Congratulations to all of you.

Also, for the monthly leaders, baha23 moved into 2nd place having been the monthly leader 3 times. baha23 is only 1 month behind bretarn, who has 4 months atop the monthly leader board.

We are grateful to both our longtime consistent scientists – like baha23 and bretarn – and are also very excited about new scientists like sfrudy and Gemmabeta.

For January 2014, we had 10,523 classifications of 87 storms from 651 citizen scientists.

Top 10 most active citizen scientists for January 2014.

Classifications Scientist
3064 baha23
712 bretarn
305 velthove
196 peterthorne
193 tdw1203
169 sfrudy
165 205400
135 Gemmabeta
129 jasony23
118  Atms345_KJD

Most active citizen scientists each month.

Month

Number

User

Sep 2012

658

atomic7732

Oct 2012

3667

chrisotahal

Nov 2012

3276

bretarn

Dec 2012

2747

bretarn

Jan 2013

2555

shocko61

Feb 2013

1714

shocko61

Mar 2013

1998

bretarn

Apr 2013

1474

ATMS103LGB

May 2013

1451

astroboyOW

Jun 2013

1084

bretarn

Jul 2013

976

Geeklette

Aug 2013

1051

skl6284

Sep 2013

431

tdw1203

Oct 2013

2733

baha23

Nov 2013

3737

baha23

Dec 2013

500

Atms345_ssc

Jan 2014

3064

Baha23

Most active citizen scientists overall.

Classifications Scientist
20767  bretarn
10227  shocko61
9536  baha23
5006  astroboyOW
3988  chrisotahal
3876  peterthorne
3426  cch001
3122  tpatch
2574  velthove
1879  tdw1203

Thanks for making CycloneCenter.org a success! I hope to see your user ID here next month!

CycloneCenter Participation for December 2013

We’ve been looking at lots of numbers lately. In particular, we are preparing a paper for submission to a peer-reviewed journal and we are impressed by the performance of the classifications from you – the citizen scientists – and the amount of work accomplished since we started in September 2012. So we’d like to take a moment to recognize the citizen scientists that have helped us become a successful science project.

For December 2013, we had 5815 classifications of 93 storms from 208 citizen scientists.

Top 10 most active citizen scientists for December 2013.

Classifications Scientist
500 Atms345_ssc
471 velthove
436 Atms345_TLC
397 DALLUIN
361 Racer512
283 bretarn
235 peterthorne
193 Atms345_KJD
137 pritcht
128 TheEpicPrimius123

Most active citizen scientists each month.

Month Classifications Scientist
Sep 2012 658 atomic7732
Oct 2012 3667 chrisotahal
Nov 2012 3276 bretarn
Dec 2012 2747 bretarn
Jan 2013 2555 shocko61
Feb 2013 1714 shocko61
Mar 2013 1998 bretarn
Apr 2013 1474 ATMS103LGB
May 2013 1451 astroboyOW
Jun 2013 1084 bretarn
Jul 2013 976 Geeklette
Aug 2013 1051 skl6284
Sep 2013 431 tdw1203
Oct 2013 2733 baha23
Nov 2013 3737 baha23
Dec 2013 500 Atms345_ssc

Most active citizen scientists overall.

Classifications Scientist
20084  bretarn
10110  shocko61
6472  baha23
5006  astroboyOW
3988  chrisotahal
3697  peterthorne
3397  cch001
3119  tpatch
2303  velthove
1689  tdw1203

Thanks for making CycloneCenter.org a success! I hope to see your user ID here next month!

Where did the tropical cyclones go this season?

In short – the western Pacific.

The Atlantic Basin was predicted by many to have an active season. But the season ended November 30th, and it was a very quiet one. There were 13 named storms in the Atlantic, of which two developed into hurricanes.  The Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) Index is used by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to measure the severity of hurricane seasons.  It considers the intensity and the lifespan of storms.  The 2013 Atlantic season was well below normal; the ACE index came in at 33, about 31% of the 1981-2010 average of 104.

Super Typhoon Dale-one of our featured cyclones this year.

Super Typhoon Dale (1996) was one of our featured storms on Cyclone Center this year.

On the other side of the planet, in comparison to the Atlantic Basin, the western Pacific appears to be the ‘hot spot’ this season for strong tropical cyclones. The western Pacific has seen 31 storms, 13 being typhoons (in this region, hurricanes are called typhoons). This makes the western Pacific season slightly above the 1981-2010 average of 26 named storms. The ACE index for the Western Pacific, however,  stands at 268.3 – about 88% of the 1981-2010 average of 302.

Typhoons such as Lekima, Usagi, Fransico and of course Super Typhoon Haiyan(Yolanda) will be recorded in the 2013 history book.  A super typhoon is a typhoon whose winds exceed 150 mph, equivalent to a Category 4 or 5 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale.

What has contributed to the strong activity seen in the western Pacific this season? A combination of the right ingredients is the answer. A tropical cyclone needs favorable conditions, such as moisture, warm sea surface temperatures, and lack of wind shear in the upper atmosphere in order to aid development. Based on the activity in the western Pacific, it is likely that those conditions were present much of the season.

The 2013 tropical cyclone season was bittersweet for many; those in the Atlantic were glad for a quiet season while many in the western Pacific were forced to make preparations all season. Our prayers are with those affected by these forces of nature.

Visit Cyclone Center to classify many storms including those past storms that formed in the western Pacific, such as: Supertyphoon Dale (1996), Super Typhoon Herb (1996), Typhoon Faxai (2001), Super Typhoon Mike(1990) and more.

- Davanna G. Saunders is an undergraduate student in Atmospheric Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Asheville.  She recently joined the Cyclone Center team as a classifier and contributor to our social media.

Cyclones for Christmas

We wanted to post a cyclone-related, fun, festive blog entry for the 2013 Zooniverse Advent Calendar. However, in light of the recent typhoon in the Philippines we thought that perhaps it would be better to show you all the ways that you can help in the aftermath of this disaster. You can of course classify on Cyclone Center to help researchers understand the science behind these phenomena, but we thought it would be good to point you at more direct ways to help those people affected by Typhoon Haiyan.

monster-typhoon-philippines-haiyan_73273_600x450

Principally, you can donate directly to several aid agencies and their umbrella organisations. These include the UK Disasters Emergency Committee’s Haiyan appeal, USAID, Oxfam, and the Red Cross. To get even more involved there are things such as the Association of digital volunteering efforts for disaster response, the GeekList Typhoon Haiyan hackathon and activities on Open Street Map.

If you have other ways to help that you think we should share, then get in touch via the comments or via our channels on Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus.

Super Typhoon Haiyan Threatens Philippines

Today we urge our Cyclone Center users to pause and send positive thoughts to our friends in the Philippines.

Evacuations are underway as Super Typhoon Haiyan (known as Yolanda in the Philippines) makes its way directly towards the country. Intensifying without restraint since Sunday, Haiyan is now a Super typhoon, which is equivalent to a Category 5 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale.  Haiyan currently has winds near 170 kt (195 mph).

Super Typhoon Haiyan approaches the Philippines Friday morning with Category-5 winds

Super Typhoon Haiyan approaches the Philippines Friday morning with Category-5 winds

Moving west northwestward, Haiyan is expected to make landfall in the Philippines early Friday morning.  Because of the very warm water temperatures along her path, Haiyan is expected to maintain her status as a super typhoon through landfall.

With this super typhoon comes potentially severe damage.  Haiyan is likely to bring heavy rainfall, severe flooding, damaging strong winds, and mudslides into very heavily populated areas of the Philippines.  The forecasters at the Joint Typhoon Warning Center are encouraging evacuations across the country, especially in the central Philippines, in preparation for the biggest storm of the 2013 season thus far.  She is the fifth super typhoon to form this year in the western Pacific.

- Kelly Dobeck is an undergraduate student in Atmospheric Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Asheville.  She recently joined the Cyclone Center team as a classifier and contributor to our social media.  

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