Is there an El Nino in the cards for 2012? Perhaps, but not looking as likely.

The mark of a busy hurricane season usually has one element missing from it: El Nino. That is to say, El Nino conditions in the Tropical Pacific tend to suppress Atlantic hurricane activity. This is due mainly to strong upper level winds that cut across the breeding grounds for hurricanes, thus limiting their numbers and intensities. However, one must remember infamous exceptions to this rule such as Andrew in 1992, an El Nino year. There are others as well which remind us of the adage “it only takes one”.

What about neutral years? What defines a neutral year anyway? Basically, when we see the sea surface temperature (SST) anomaly in the Tropical Pacific between .50 Celsius above or below normal, it is a neutral year (ENSO neutral). The scale is not tipped in one direction or another. Easy enough, right?

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What goes up….could be very exciting. Introducing: HURR-B

Hurricane Balloon Logo

Hurricane Balloon Logo (click for larger version)

Ever wonder what the inside of the eye of a hurricane looks like? Think of those birds we often hear about that get trapped inside the eye, flying around in the (relatively) calm air. If all goes well, we will get a fantastic look at one the strangest weather phenomenon on the planet.

I wish to introduce you to our newest, most ambitious project to date. Say hello to HURR-B (pronounced Herbie). It’s a weather balloon that we will send to the edge of space from inside the eye of a hurricane. It will eventually burst and the payload will drift safely back to earth via the parachute.

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Android/Smartphone optimized pages coming to Client Services

In our modern world of iPhones, Android powered devices, tablets and portable, long lasting laptops, it is more important than ever for Web content to be available on such devices. As you know by now, we are introducing an iPhone app later this spring. It will contain a specific set of features that will serve the ever-growing iOS market. At the same time, we do not want to ignore the vast numbers of Android and other Smartphone device owners who use our site for news and information. We have a plan….

Beginning April 1, we will roll out a mobile version of our Client Services site, the subscription service that we offer for those wishing to access more features than we can offer on the free site. The cornerstone of our Client Services site is the live video ability. Since 2005, we have offered multiple live video feeds during our hurricane field missions. Since that time, we have added satellite and radar loops, live chat, a daily video blog (live broadcast and then archived) as well as many other features that have made the service the success that it is today.

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Tropical disturbance forms, labeled 90L, not much chance for development

Satellite Photo of Invest 90L

Satellite Photo of Invest 90L (click to enlarge)

It has been an odd winter for much of the nation. Snow has been hard to come by in many places while others have had several feet in just the last few days. Warm temps, plentiful rain fall and even a quick start to the severe weather season have all been the norm this year for much of the southern part of the country. We can now add “tropical interest” to the mix.

The NHC is monitoring an area of showers and thunderstorms over the northern Caribbean Sea and southern Gulf of Mexico. There is definitely a surface trough of low pressure across the region which is helping to focus the abundant energy found in the warm waters of the Caribbean and Gulf. In fact, water temps are easily above


SST Map (click to enlarge)

the 80F threshold that we look for in tropical development. However, it is February and upper level winds, among other factors, are simply not going to allow 90L to do much more than create a buzz within the hurricane blogosphere. Its presence could lead to some scattered rain showers for the Florida Keys and perhaps mainland south Florida over the next day or two but that’s about it.

Has a tropical storm ever formed in February that affected the U.S.? Yes. In 1952 there was such an event. Check out the historical track map from Stormpulse: