East Pacific hurricane season begins today as does my trip to New York and New Jersey

East Pacific invest 90-E

East Pacific invest 90-E

It’s May 15 and that means the east Pacific hurricane season is now underway. Right on cue, a tropical depression appears to be forming well off the coast of Mexico where waters are warm enough to support the deep convection noted in satellite imagery.

All of the forecast models indicate that the developing low pressure area will move westward and away from the Mexican coastline over the next several days.

The east Pacific season begins two weeks ahead of the Atlantic season though both basins see about the same amount of activity per 100 years during this time of the year – so I am not certain as to why the Atlantic season does not officially begin until June 1. In any case, we do have something to monitor on this opening day of the east Pacific season though it poses no threat to land areas at this time.

In other news – I am heading up to New York and New Jersey beginning later this morning. I have a couple of projects to follow up on in New York City tomorrow and then I am going to travel back to coastal New Jersey where I was when Sandy made landfall. I’ll re-trace my steps in Long Branch and Belmar and might get to travel to other places farther south if time permits.

The unique thing about this trip is that I am going to stream the entire journey live on our public Ustream channel. I want to demonstrate our new “everywhere cam” that we’ll be using for our subscriber site this season. We’ll still have a free live camera streaming but it will be a traditional dash-mounted video camera. This new technology is amazing. There’s no laptop needed and the cam is so small and versatile that I can take it anywhere. The audio is incredible as well. I thought it would be great to test it out while showing anyone viewing a little of the East Coast countryside.

Once I get to the Jersey coast on Friday, you’ll want to tune in and see how things have progressed since Sandy. I’ll provide narration and insight as to what the impacts were and where I was and what I was doing back on October 29 of last year. Watch our Twitter feed for updates as to when something really worthwhile is streaming and then tune in by clicking the link below or simply bookmarking our Ustream channel page: Ustream.tv/hurricanetrack

Click here to watch our live Ustream feed

 

My next post will cover some exciting news about our app which is about to have a major update completed. Plus – is an Android version in the works? Check out the blog on Monday to find out.

M. Sudduth

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One month to go until hurricane season and we are getting ready

Welcome to May! Hard to believe we are just a month away from the start of the Atlantic hurricane season. Before then, the east Pacific season begins on May 15, so we will be ramping up our blog posts, etc in the coming weeks.

So what’s new for us in 2013? A lot. Too much to cover in one blog post, so I’ll spread it out over the next couple of weeks.

First, you’ll be hearing a lot more from and about colleague Mike Watkins. He has been working with us since late 2004 and has been with me personally on some of the biggest field missions of my career.

Mike started a new company last year called Hurricane Analytics. It is more than just about hurricanes as Mike is very good at deciphering data, all kinds of data, and making sense of it. However, his tropical weather expertise will allow him to utilize his site for some excellent analysis projects. You may follow Mike and his site on Twitter: @hurricaneanalytics or @watkinstrack

Mike has a new Podcast series called The HurriCast which will provide listeners with a different perspective on tropical weather news and data info. You may find his Podcast linked from the HurricaneAnalytics homepage.

Look for blog posts here from time to time from Mike as well and I too will be guest-blogging for his site. This cross-collaboration will be a nice new touch for our partnership as we go forward in to our ninth year working together.

Today begins our season pass sales for our subscription service

We have had a private subscription service since 2005 and it has grown to include nearly 500 members from around the world. Our annual plan is the most popular, and costs $99.95 per year for unlimited access to all we offer on our Client Services site. However, some folks find that the use the subscription site only during hurricane season. So, since 2011, we have offered a “season pass” for $59.95 and that too has become a successful part of our funding projects each season.

Well, today marks the first day that the pass for 2013 is available for purchase.

This year we are bringing a whole new experience to our members with a brand new live streaming camera system for our field missions. We call it the “everywhere cam” and it will be just that. Using new technology, we will be able to take our members anywhere we go during our field missions. No longer will you have to “wait” in the Tahoe, watching the Tahoe dash cam while we go do something outside of the Tahoe. Whether it be that we are scoping out a place to deploy one of our remote cams or actually setting up a weather station or remote cam, you will be there with us, complete with audio! In the past, we’ve only had our dash-mounted video camera for streaming from the Tahoe. This year, we’ll utilize cutting edge technology to give you a completely immersive experience in to our field work. When we go eat and discuss what’s going on with the hurricane that we are intercepting, you’ll come with us. When we head in to a police department or emergency management office to work with the local officials, you’ll go with us. It will be as if you are truly a part of what we are doing – no longer wondering what we’re up to as you sit and watch the dash cam. This is exclusive to our members and is 100% ad free. The general public will have access to our dash cam that will have commercials playing via Ustream every 12 minutes or so. This is an exciting new feature and we are looking forward to giving you a brand new look at how we do our field missions.
For a sample of how well this cam works, check out this actual recorded stream event from Louisiana back in March just after the National Hurricane Conference which was held in New Orleans:
http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/30534667 (note this has commercials since it was recorded using our public Ustream channel)
In addition to our successful live video streaming capabilities, Client Services members will also enjoy:
  • Stormpulse maps
  • Live chat with other members and us
  • Daily LIVE hurricane outlook videos during the hurricane season (ad free)
  • 30 frame satellite and radar animations
  • Access to mobile device formatted pages, including pages that contain some of our live streaming feeds
  • Access to our three mobile weather stations that we deploy to capture live wind and pressure data
  • Access to our three private Surge Cams – 100% ad free
  • Expert analysis from Mark Sudduth and Mike Watkins throughout the season
  • Complete mission coverage from start to finish of each tropical storm and hurricane we intercept this season
All of this for just $59.95 for the season. To sign up today, use this link: Client Services Season Pass for 2013 Season
On Monday I will talk about our app. I have some much-anticipated news to share and look forward to that post. I think a lot of people will be VERY excited to hear what’s coming….
M. Sudduth
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National Hurricane Conference next week in New Orleans

Next week, experts in all aspects of hurricane planning, forecasting and emergency response will gather in New Orleans for the National Hurricane Conference. I too will be there and look forward to learning from the very best in the industry.

I have been attending this conference since 1999 and enjoy the chance to broaden my scope of knowledge by interacting with people who themselves have dedicated their careers to studying various components of hurricanes and how they impact our society.

I am very interested in learning more about Sandy and what affect its legacy will have on future events that may be similar. Sandy was a lesson for the ages for a lot of reasons and I am sure it will be discussed at great length throughout next week.

In addition, I will be curious to see how the new storm surge warning process will take shape. I believe that we are most vulnerable to storm surge in this country and can point to Katrina, Ike and Sandy, at the very least, to prove it. This topic is especially interesting to me as well because of the new Surge Cam we are putting in to operation for the public this season. It is my hope that seeing what the surge is doing in real time will help to convince people that they made the right choice in evacuating while giving the public and the media that “point of view” shot without putting lives at risk.

There will also be other topics of interest such as conveying hazards information better to the public and how local governments can work to better communicate what their response is going to be to the hurricane impacts that are coming.

I’ll post blog updates here each evening so that they are online by the next morning while I am in New Orleans. I will also post video blogs to our iPhone app (don’t have it yet? Get it now and be ready for the hurricane season) with a few posted here as well. Who knows? I may get to interview some big names in the business but I will also seek out other people who are less known but whom I think bring a lot to the table with their research and accomplishments. I’ll also talk to some of the vendors at the expo to give them some exposure.

The conference is unique and really serves to get people together to better understand and then plan for the next hurricane disaster. We know the hurricanes are not going to quit coming, being ready ahead of time to the best of our collective abilities is important to minimizing the impact. The National Hurricane Conference is a great forum to help make that happen.

I’ll have more from New Orleans next week.

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Two live video feeds will be made available during our field missions in 2013

I am pleased to announce that during the 2013 hurricane season we will provide a 100% free live video feed from the HurricaneTrack.com Chevy Tahoe during our field missions to cover hurricanes and tropical storms.

Thanks to improvements in technology we will be able to stream one feed from our dash mounted camera to the public via our Ustream channel while continuing to offer our Client Services members with 100% ad-free streaming through a completely separate set of technology.

HurricaneTrack.com Tahoe cam on CNN during Sandy

HurricaneTrack.com Tahoe cam on CNN during Sandy

Our Ustream feed is often utilized on CNN as has been the case since 2005 when we first began live streaming events during hurricanes.

For funding purposes, we have had to limit the amount of time that we can provide the stream to the public at no cost, instead making it available to our subscribers. Now, thanks in large part to the number of subscribers that we have and the funding that their support brings in, we can offer the best of both worlds: a free cam and a cam solely for our members.

I feel that providing the general public with access is important for many reasons. One of those is the fact that we can instantly relay information about the hurricane to our audience the moment we get it. There is nothing better than live video and having a captive audience made up of people who are, for the most part, heavily engaged to the event itself, we have a chance to pass along critical updates.

In addition, the live feed gives our audience a chance to see not only what conditions are like where we are, but also a chance to see how we do what we do. It’s more about the science and education than the thrill and excitement and having a live audience of thousands of people at once is a great motivator to get the job done and done right.

The live dash-cam feed will be turned on the moment the Tahoe leaves the driveway in Wilmington, North Carolina and will stay on for as long as humanly (and technologically) possible throughout the entire hurricane landfall event.

For our Client Services members, their live camera experience will be a little different. Both cams will have audio, but the member-only cam will be quite special. No longer will it be tethered to the Tahoe. This season, our subscribers will be treated to a totally new experience, immersing the viewer deep within our every move. We are putting in to operation a brand new camera system that can go anywhere we go: inside the Tahoe, outside the Tahoe, anywhere. While we set up equipment or place an unmanned cam, our members will be right there with us via the new system we are implementing. It is their dedication to our mission that has helped to fund most of our operations over the last several years and for that, we are rewarding them with an all new, incredible experience during our field missions. At the same time, we will do the right thing and that is provide the general public with a live feed, complete with audio, at no cost what so ever. I am excited about this and look forward to putting this new technology to very good use this season.

But wait, there’s more!

In addition to the live dash-cam for the public, we will also make available a brand new version of our unmanned camera system that will be put in to operation this season. That’s right! We will have two live feeds now for the public’s use during 2013. Once again, a leap ahead in technology has allowed us to develop a new generation of our remotely operated camera systems. We call it the “Surge Cam” since it will be mostly used in surge prone areas that are far too dangerous for us, or anyone else for that matter, to be in. We’ll have four Surge Cams in operation this season and dedicate one of them to the public at no cost through our Ustream channel.

Click here for example of Surge Cam from hurricane Isaac last August

This is more important, to me anyway, than the dash-cam feed. The vulnerability of some locations to storm surge cannot be over-stated. I believe that showing the public, through the use of unmanned, remote video, is a win-win way to convey the real effects of a hurricane while providing the public with a live view. Humans are naturally curious yet we all know how dangerous a hurricane can be. We have responsibly set out these cameras since Katrina in 2005 with incredible results (see our YouTube channel for clips)

Our collaboration with NOAA’s COOPS program will also allow us to place the cam in a location that will offer an incredible point-of-view live feed of potentially dangerous and deadly storm surge flooding; all without any risk to life and limb.

I am extremely grateful for the support we have from our paying members and from our sponsors over the years. Their collective efforts and financial support have helped to make this happen. We have steadily grown our Client Services site to almost 500 members from all over the world. Sales of our app have also helped to keep the wheels turning and projects moving forward.

While this announcement is great news for the public as a whole, I would not be doing my job if I did not mention that yes, we do have a great subscriber service that offers many features not found anywhere else. The wonderful Stormpulse maps that we are privileged to offer, to our daily live video updates, to the live chat just for members and of course our multiple live video feeds, all 100% ad-free, are part of what makes our subscriber service as successful as it is. We offer annual memberships for just $99.95 and season passes (May – November) for $59.95 which will be available on May 1.

Hurricane season is approaching and we’re getting ready. Make sure you are too even if it’s just thinking about what you and your family or business will do if a hurricane comes your way. It’s been a busy couple of years for U.S. landfalls and while no one knows precisely what will happen this season, I can assure you that you’ll have access to some amazing live video from our vehicle and our Surge Cam this season- assuming, of course, that we have to actually put it all to use. You never know….maybe we stay “in port” all season. Wouldn’t that be nice? In case that’s not how things turn out, tune in during our live coverage, you won’t be disappointed.

Next week: getting ready for the National Hurricane Conference in New Orleans.

 

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A look at the current state of the ENSO

Even though we are still in the middle of winter and most people are not thinking about hurricanes, there are important large scale signals to track and one of those is the ENSO or El Nino Southern Oscillation.

As most people who are in to tracking hurricanes know, the abnormal warming of the Tropical Pacific, also known as El Nino, typically reduces the numbers and intensities of Atlantic hurricanes. It was thought at about this time last year, and going in to the hurricane season, that an El Nino would develop and keep the Atlantic activity to a more average or even below average level. As we know, that El Nino failed to materialize and we almost ran out of names in 2012.

Sea Surface Temperature Anomalies

Sea Surface Temperature Anomalies

So how do things look now? Take a peek at the current sea surface temperature anomaly map for the Atlantic and Pacific. You’ll notice quite easily that a large ribbon of blue stretches across the Pacific along the Equator. That is a plume of lower than average sea surface temperatures. In fact, comparing the Pacific to the Atlantic as a whole, you can see that overall the Pacific is colder than the Atlantic. This is part of another set of phenomenon that would be a useful discussion in a future blog post, not really related to El Nino directly.

IRI/CPC Forecast for ENSO

IRI/CPC Forecast for ENSO

Considering how cool the tropical Pacific is now, it begs the question: will it last in to the 2013 hurricane season? Or, will conditions change and a warm up of the tropical Pacific commences at some point? This time of year, it is very difficult to gauge what will happen 3 to 6 months down the road but there are efforts to do just that. Check out the IRI/CPC graph from mid-January depicting the forecasts from the various computer models going out well in to the Atlantic hurricane season time frame. The red bar represents El Nino conditions. Once we get in to the summer months, the models generally indicate less than a 20% chance of El Nino conditions being reached in the central tropical Pacific. On the other hand, looking at the green bar, which represents neutral conditions, we see that a greater than 50% probability exists for the heart of the hurricane season. It also worth noting that the blue, which represents La Nina, or cooler than average conditions, creeps up throughout the coming months.

The state of the ENSO is only one of the larger puzzle pieces that we keep watch over coming in to any hurricane season. Other factors such as steering currents and instability over the deep tropics are also very important. However, it seems that sea surface temperatures and how they deviate from the average across the tropical Pacific play a large role in setting the stage for overall activity in the Atlantic. Right now, indications are that conditions in the Pacific would favor increased hurricane formation in the Atlantic. Of course, there could be 1 hurricane only and if it hits you, it’s potentially a bad season for you. On the other hand, we could have 15 hurricanes and, although unlikely, it is mathematically possible for all 15 to avoid the U.S. completely. Obviously, other nations of the Atlantic Basin might not fare so well but the bottom line is that it appears that the upcoming season could be quite busy. Might as well plan ahead and use that info as perhaps a little bit of a nudge to get your act together and have a plan in place – just in case one of this season’s 21 names has your lat/long in its sights!

Read more about the IRI/CPC ENSO forecasts via this link

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