Colin product of favorable time period, likely not sign of hyper-active season

This map shows the favorable upward motion or MJO pulse (green areas) that helped to support the development of TS Colin

This map shows the favorable upward motion or MJO pulse (green areas) that helped to support the development of TS Colin

Tropical storm Colin, or what ever it is right now, is moving quickly northeast just south of the North Carolina coast near Cape Fear. It will continue this track and may strengthen some over the warm waters of the Gulf Stream but it won’t matter much since the effects will be well offshore.

Many references were made of the fact that Colin was the earliest we had reached the 3rd named storm in a season. Some may even point to this as evidence that the 2016 hurricane season will be quite a bit busier than thought. Here is why that makes little sense.

First, Colin was the product of a very favorable upward motion pattern in the Western Hemisphere. This is also known as a favorable MJO period or Madden-Julian Oscillation. Essentially, it is a period of time during which tropical convection or upward motion is enhanced for a certain region of the globe. It just so happens that during the past several days, our part of the world was favored. The result is tropical convection that often leads to the development of tropical cyclones. In this case, it did and did so in the climatologically favored areas of the Atlantic Basin. In other words, the pattern supported the development of Bonnie and Colin, nothing more, nothing less.

For the sake of argument, had Colin originated from a tropical wave in the deep tropics, then we would have some concern that the season will be busier than current conditions indicate. Tropical waves usually don’t develop that far east until much later in the season. In this case, Colin had its genesis in the western Caribbean, right where it should be for this part of the hurricane season. So far, there is nothing to make me think that this is a sign of things to come. Yes, it will probably be a busy season, considering we have had very little to track since 2012. Even an average year will seem busy at this point.

Also note that we had an anomaly back in January with what turned out to be hurricane Alex. Again, this was just a random event where by the pattern allowed a very rare January hurricane to develop but it did so outside of the deep tropics and under very different circumstances than we would look for during the normal part of the season of June-November.

While it may seem like we are off to a record-setting pace, I think things will calm down after Colin. We might see something try to develop in the western Gulf of Mexico, almost in to the Bay of Campeche, during the next 10 days, but after that, the season will likely go in to a lull until the main event in August, September and October.

Meanwhile, TD One-E (for East Pacific) is meandering around just off the coast of Mexico nearing the Gulf of Tehuantepec where it should die out due to unfavorable conditions. However, the threat of heavy rains still exists for parts of the region and this could result in flash floods and mudslides, a common hazard from all tropical cyclones regardless of intensity.

I will say this: I find it interesting that the Atlantic Basin has produced two tropical cyclones during the season (Bonnie was technically just before the start) while the east Pacific is lacking somewhat. This is usually not the case as the east Pacific tends to be more active early on. In fact, last year, the east Pacific had record activity while the Atlantic was virtually shut down except for powerful hurricane Joaquin in early October. This might be a sign that at least the balance of energy is shifting from the Pacific and in to the Atlantic. We’ll see….time will tell.

M. Sudduth 8:40 AM June 7

About Mark Sudduth

Greetings! I am Mark Sudduth, the founder and editor of The site began in 1999 as a way to post info concerning tropical storms and hurricanes for any interested visitors. Little did I know how big it would become in the years since. Now, we have millions of visitors from all over the world who have come to rely on the site as a no non-sense, tell it like it is resource for all things hurricane related. We are supported by a combination of corporate sponsors and our loyal Client Services members who subscribe to premium content on our sister site, I am married with six energetic and intelligent children and live in southeast North Carolina. I graduated UNC-Wilmington in 1995 with a BA in Geography and have studied the effects of hurricanes on our society ever since.
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