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El Nino on the Rise? The Fate of the Hurricane Season Awaits

Today (June 1) marks the beginning of the hurricane “season” in the North Atlantic ocean, in which the ocean and atmospheric conditions are generally the most favorable for creating tropical storms.  There is always a little bit of curiosity as to how active the year will be and many groups now produce seasonal forecasts of activity (something we have discussed here in the past).  Most forecasts for this year predict a less active season because of the potential development of El Nino.

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Refocusing CycloneCenter on the year 2005

We are refocusing our efforts on a smaller number of targeted storms. Our current target is to complete all images for the 2005 tropical cyclone season.  Read More…

400,000 Classification Milestone! reached a milestone February 15th: its 400,000th classification! Provided by Read More…

Cyclone Center Citizen Scientists Contribute To Article In Top Meteorology Journal

Our first major publication appeared online the week of September 8 (link at the end of the post) in the #1 journal for meteorology papers, the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.  We have been working with nearly 300,000 classifications from over 5,000 of our valuable citizen scientists over the past year (we now have over 365,000 classifications from 7,400 registered users).  Our primary goal was to assess how well Cyclone Center is working and whether it can lead to even more valuable results down the road.  The answer is Read More…

Happy 2nd Birthday

HappyBirthdayI just wanted to wish everyone a Happy Birthday on this second anniversary of Two years ago today, citizen scientist “parrish” provided the first classification. Here’s what we get from that first one:

1,parrish,Td0721(1981),1981-07-22 09:00:00 UTC,2012-09-26 18:57:45 UTC,1981202N24123.TD0721.1981.07.22.0900.37.GMS-1.034.hursat-b1.v05.png,,,,,,,,,band-2.0,,,GMS-1,same,curved

To most, it is a bunch of comma-separated gobbledygook However, to our science team, it is a treasure trove of information — especially when you consider we have 350,000+ lines of this data.

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Spawns of El Nino? Hurricanes Iselle and Julio Aim For Hawaii

Cyclone Center is tracking two storms as we classify this afternoon.

It has been quite a remarkable week in the eastern and central Pacific that has culminated in two hurricanes taking aim at the Hawaiian Islands today.  Hurricane Iselle has shown herself to be quite resilient as she has maintained her hurricane strength despite moving over cooler ocean waters.  Hurricane warnings are out for the big island as residents prepare for a significant event.  Meanwhile, Hurricane Julio is following close behind, continuing to intensify despite his movement over cooler waters.  The graphic below from the Central Pacific Hurricane Center shows the likelihood of significant winds over the next few days in the islands: Read More…

A Quiet Hurricane Season in the Atlantic?

The official start of the hurricane season in the North Atlantic was June 1 and most experts are predicting a relatively quiet season, pointing to relatively cool water temperatures in place and a developing El Nino in the Pacific.   El Nino can be thought of as a substantial warming of ocean water in the central and/or eastern Pacific which in turn alters global weather patterns.  Atlantic hurricanes typically encounter more hostile atmospheric conditions during El Nino events, limiting their potential to develop and strengthen.  Most of the inactive seasons in the Atlantic over the past 20 years have occurred during El Nino events. Read More…

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.


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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