Category Archives: hurricane

Hurricanes Have a Dusty Butterfly Effect

Does the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil set off a tornado in Texas? Perhaps. But did you know the rainfall in a section of an African desert can effect the chance of a hurricane?

The Sahara Desert in Africa is the major source for African dust (or Mineral Dust) floating across the Atlantic to the Caribbean and South America each summer. I’ve been in Puerto Rico during one of those summer “dust clouds”. The sky is hazy but more reddish than grey.

However, it’s the north-western end of the sub-saharan Sahel Belt in Africa that can be a factor in Atlantic Ocean temperatures. The Sahel’s rainfall is a variable compared to the Sahara so if there’s more rain, there is less dust blowing from the African coast.

NW Sahel Desert influences hurricanes

How does this effect the formation of hurricanes? Dr. Jeff Masters reports that when there is more dust, the water temperatures can fall by a full degree Celsius. Hurricanes need warm water to form, so more dust means cooler water temps.

Therefore the amount of rain in NW Sahel effects the amount of dust that blows over the Atlantic which effects the water temperatures which effects hurricane formation.

Got all that?

So what does it look like this year? There has been more rain in NW Sahel so there’s less dust so the water temps should be warmer so the likelihood of hurricane formation increases. But here’s the good news: the dust level won’t be as low as it was in 2005. You remember the 2005 Hurricane season, don’t you? Do the names Wilma, Rita, and Katrina ring a bell?

Also see Dust from Subsaharan May Affect Frequency of Hurricanes. Originally tipped off from the FriendFeed Hurricane Room.

Why we need hurricanes


During the summer months, the Earth heats up very unevenly. Down toward the equator becomes much hotter than the poles creating a huge heat imbalance.  The Earth does everything it can to keep in balance, and hurricanes are natures way of creating a balancing act. Without getting to technical, The atmosphere attempts to remove this excessive amount of heat energy through latent heat release. A hurricane is essentially a massive heat engine that transfers the high oceanic heat content into the atmosphere by releasing that stored heat via condensation.

However, I can probably speak for most of us and say, “just not here, mmk?”

source: blog via the FriendFeed Hurricane Room and Hurricanes Happen

Hurricane 2009 Season Begins Today

hurricane_jeanneI’ve been fascinated with hurricanes for a long time.  I don’t know what it is about these storms, but they fascinate me.  I have a very healthy respect for them and know the seriousness of these storms.

That’s why last August I created the Hurricane Room on FriendFeed to serve as a comprehensive yet useful resource for hurricane information.  The site automatically imports updates live from various sources that I’ve found reliable.  Here’s the list of what is currently imported:


It’s my opinion that these are some of the best resources to keep tabs on tropical storm updates in a live river of news.  You’ll see live updates from the National Hurricane Center, official tips and help from the Red Cross, and some weather expert opinions all regularly feeding into the room.  These are sources that I trust to be relevant and valuable.  There are other great sites to track storms but do not publish updates that can be imported like these.  I encourage you to keep your eye on those sites as well.  Here’s a list of some I pay attention to as well.

I would like to encourage you to do one or more of the following regarding the Hurricane Room on FriendFeed:

  • Bookmark or save the web address and check in every so often
  • Share the site with friends and on social networks — especially those who could be effected by these storms
  • Join the Hurricane Room by joining FriendFeed. Doing so effectively turns the site into a discussion board for you where you can comment on any post or create your own
  • Subscribe the the room’s RSS feed. Be warned though, this can get loaded up quickly during a storm!

I just want to provide a way to help us all be aware and be safe. Watch and join the FriendFeed Hurricane Room.

Below is the best chart I’ve seen that tries to capture the strength and damage predicted for hurricane categories (click it for a larger view)


Ike is Big

From Jeff Master’s Wunder Blog

Ike is now larger than Katrina was, both in its radius of tropical storm force winds–275 miles–and in it radius of hurricane force winds–115 miles. For comparison, Katrina’s tropical storm and hurricane force winds extended out 230 and 105 miles, respectively.

So pretty much anyone on the Texas coast has the chance to get at least tropical storm strength winds.

BTW, Corpus Christi to Port Aurhur (edges of the ‘cone of probablity’) is about 250 miles.  In other words, the tropical storm winds now is wider than the projected landfall possibilities.

Hurricane Ike to Houston area

I haven’t posted about Hanna or Ike for a while because I’ve been waiting to see what they did.  Hanna thankfully stayed as a tropical storm and went up the east coast not bring a terrible amount of damage.

Now that Ike has finally made it’s approach into the Caribbean, the path is becoming a bit more clear.  Every day for the last few the projected path has been all over the board.

As you can see, as of right now all of the Gulf Coast states need to pay attention as Ike probably will hit as a major hurricane.  Right now it’s looking to aim at Houston/Galveston.  But of course, all dealing with Gustav needs to watch out also.  If Ike stays to the south and west of New Orleans, they will get the right-front quadrant of the storm bringing a very unstable condition.

The other thing I wanted to point out is that Cuba and Haiti especially have been really hit hard the last few weeks.  I’ve lost count, but I think the death toll in the two countries is somewhere in the 5-700’s? Hurricane Ike Spotlight

Hurricane Hanna & Ike to come

Hurricane Gustav finally made landfall today south-west of New Orleans.  Thankfully, as the Weather Nerd points out, New Orleans should turn out okay but also:

Let’s all remember that there’s more to Louisiana than New Orleans, and just because our teevees show us that there’s no damage in the French Quarter doesn’t mean people aren’t suffering elsewhere.

So now, here in Orlando, we’re watching Hurricane Hanna and what will probably become Hurricane Ike.

Hanna became a hurricane today south of the Bahamahs and Tropical Depresion 9 (to become Ike) formed out in the eastern waters.  Ike looks to follow Hanna’s path slightly so we’ll just have to keep an eye on him as well.

Hopefully Hanna won’t be a huge mess as it looks to land between Savannah, GA and Charleston, SC.  I know the upstate of SC will be hoping Hanna will fulfill the promise Fay didn’t keep and come on up and dump some much needed rain there.

Hurricane Gustav 2:00 on Sunday

He is a big storm and you can see where he’s going.  We started getting rain yesterday and expect more bands to come through today.  It’s off and on gusty in the 20-30 mph range in Orlando.

One thing to pay attention to is if this storm drifts to the west, it could come in at a steep angle.  It may not make much of a change in New Orleans as they will get the brunt of it almost no matter what.  But if it comes in at the steep angle, that makes it stronger as it moves into Texas.  Houston will need to watch for that.

My fiend Kevin shared some good resources to track the storm including a guy riding it out in New Orleans, blogging and twittering.