About Mark Sudduth

Greetings! I am Mark Sudduth, the founder and editor of HurricaneTrack.com. 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, premium.hurricanetrack.com. 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.

How’s that La Niña going?

Subsurface Temps of the Tropical Pacific

Subsurface Temps of the Tropical Pacific

So far this winter, the La Niña that has been in place since last fall continues to hold strong. As the graphic from the Bureau of Meteorology in Australia indicates, subsurface temperatures across the tropical Pacific remain much colder than average over a large area. There is a growing region of subsurface warmth beginning to pool in the western Pacific but it lacks a real mechanism to drive it eastward- a so-called westerly wind burst. We typically don’t see those unless there is a significant pressure change across the Pacific and that shows up in the SOI or Southern Oscillation Index. When it is substantially negative, and persistently so, the trade winds often slow or even reverse, allowing the warm water gathering in the western Pacific to migrate eastward.

The latest update from the BOM also points out that long range climate models suggest a gradual warming of the tropical Pacific as the La Niña fades. This means it is likely that we’ll see a return to more average, or neutral ENSO conditions (ENSO stands for El Niño Southern Oscillation) by the time summer arrives in the Northern Hemisphere. There is also the possibility that the warming will continue and a weak El Niño could set in by next fall. I do not see any evidence yet to suggest that a strong El Niño is coming. However, this time of year, it is difficult to predict what will happen several months down the road but the large subsurface cold pool coupled with a fairly strong SOI signal over the past 30 to 90 days tells me that La Niña is going to be the rule for a few more months at least.

Why does any of this matter? Aside from the effects outside of the hurricane season, which are far too detailed to get in to in this post, we typically see a more active hurricane season when El Niño is not present. This is due to the stronger and more numerous instances of wind shear, the change of wind speed and/or direction with height, over the deep tropics. El Niño events promote this negative impact to tropical cyclones where as La Niña events usually do not.

For now, the La Niña pattern will continue but we’ll watch for signs that it is breaking down and then we’ll see how much warming takes place in the tropical Pacific. The end result could have an impact, one way or another, on the upcoming Atlantic hurricane season. I’ll post more about the ENSO state next month.


Welcome to 2012 and the all new HurricaneTrack!

Way back in 1999, I posted the very first update to this site when tropical storm Arlene formed. I termed it “commentary” and have used that moniker ever since. Today, I say goodbye to the venerable commentary and hello to the much more modern blog. Yes, I am now a blogger and this is my first official post.

So, where do I start? How about the look and feel (and functionality) of the site. The most significant change is the use of WordPress. Thanks to a nice little push from Ilene Jones who is the CEO of KittyCode (remember that name, it will be important later), I finally moved in to the advanced world of having a WordPress powered site. I was skeptical at fist; resistant to change. But after playing with several themes and learning what’s what, I settled in and have become quite comfortable with the new technology (new to me anyway).

The real power of the new site will be our ability to post blogs more efficiently. Our team can now post their own content without cumbersome FTP and HTML writing. Hard to believe that’s how things were done for over 12 years. What’s really nice is that we can post under categories, including off-season topics such as severe weather, Nor’easters and other disruptive weather events. After all, being aware is critical and we have a great team- why not utilize that talent pool even when it’s not hurricane season?

You will have access to blogs from our entire team and will be able to interact directly with them here or through their own social networking links. This will really help to provide a more rounded level of information from Mike, Jesse, Greg, Todd and me. I hope to add some guest bloggers to the list as well- perhaps an up and coming hurricane forecaster or an expert in some area of hurricane preparedness, mitigation or recovery. There really is no limit to what we can do now by utilizing the power of WordPress.

When we head out on our field missions to cover tropical storm and hurricane landfall events, this homepage will disappear- to be replaced by a special edition of the homepage with the free Ustream player embedded. The simplified “mission mode” homepage will provide our visitors with a live look at where we are and what we’re seeing/hearing. We’ll also embed our Twitter and Facebook feeds on to this page for continuous short posts throughout the event. With this plan in place, we can continue to provide free live video to visitors of the site while we also maintain our dedication to our private clients (our Client Services members) and those utilizing our new iPhone app. Once the mission is over, this homepage will return and the blogging will begin again.

You will notice too that you now have the ability to post comments to the blog posts. I will try this out but have a fear that it could get out of hand sooner rather than later. While I will hope and encourage relevant and useful feedback, there is an ever-present layer of troll scum that graces the Internet, always waiting for a chance to spout off with nothing more than grade school level non-sense and even hatred. If this becomes a chronic problem, I will disable comments and reserve them only for our subscribers. We shall see- this will be an interesting experiment to say the least.

The other big news of the New Year is our up and coming iPhone app. We are finally getting in to the mobile app business and ours will be an exciting addition to the world of weather/hurricane apps. Remember that I mentioned Ilene from Kitty Code? Her company, who produces the phenomenally successful Hurricane and HurricaneHD apps, is working with us to design HurricaneTrack for iPhone. Instead of writing about it in this post, check out the full description here. We anticipate the release date to be sometime in late March or early April but certainly before the hurricane season begins. I am very excited about this new feature and am honored to be working with KittyCode to make it happen. I will keep you posted on the progress and the expected release date of the app.

So that’s about it for now. We have a lot of work to do in the off-season and we all know it will go by quickly. I truly appreciate the people who visit this site and look forward to interacting via a whole new medium with this new WordPress site. Remember, hurricanes are very serious. We take them seriously and will do all we can to put our years of experience in tracking them, being right there at landfall and dealing with their aftermath to help you better understand what you may be up against. Don’t forget that we will discuss non-hurricane related weather events here and, from time to time, will stream live through our Ustream channel during such events when possible. Have a wonderful New Year and stay safe! We can’t do this without YOU!