Sunday, July 05, 2015

July Tropical Climatology


           Mariner’s Poem On Hurricanes

June too soon.
July stand by.
August look out you must.
September remember.
October all over.

- Published in “Weather Lore” by R. Inwards in 1898



As a native Floridian - born in the 1950s - I grew up on Roy Leep’s weather forecasts, kept a hurricane tracking map on my bedroom wall, and dutifully  tracked the latitude, longitude, forward speed, and strength of our yearly parade of tropical storms.  


Having weathered Hurricane Donna in 1960 (at the age of 6), I took this job very seriously.


With global 24/7 weather satellite coverage today, we are assured of several days warning of an approaching storm. But as late as the early 1960s, we were still dependent upon ship’s reports and land-based weather stations, and so storms could literally show up with very little warning (Like CAT 4 Hurricane Audrey in 1957).   


Even when a storm’s position was known, where it would end up was still often a mystery, as forecasting was still in its infancy.  For a detailed look at what it was like to forecast tropical storms in the 1950s, you might enjoy my look back at Grady Norton: The First Hurricane Forecaster, from 2013.


Although June and July storms do form, they are less frequent than those that emerge in August and September, and usually (but not always) less powerful.  So far in 2015, we’ve already had two tropical storms (Ana & Bill), and while this season is forecast to be `below average’, it only takes one strong hurricane strike to make a big impact.


Below you’ll see the the areas that historically have spawned tropical systems in July. 


Unlike later in the year when we watch for long-track storms to form in the Cape Verde basin, cyclone genesis is more apt to occur in the shallower, earlier to warm waters, closer to the United States and the Caribbean.  


While these storm are often weaker than the more-mature storms later in the season, they form closer to land and therefore can offer less time to prepare.

Reason enough to make your hurricane preparations early, before a storm threatens.  Every year I give hurricane preparedness a prominent place in this blog because more than 50 million Americans live in susceptible coastal areas (along with millions more in other countries).


Live along the coastline long enough, and the odds say you’ll be visited by one of these storms. 


From Escambia County Hurricane Preparedness Information


But you don’t have to live along the coast to be severely impacted by one of these tropical systems.  Many lives have been lost, and billions of dollars of damage has been done, hundreds of miles removed from where the storm makes landfall (see Hurricane Preparedness - Inland Flooding).


If you haven’t already downloaded the updated Tropical Cyclone Preparedness Guide, now would be an excellent time to do so.


When it comes to getting the latest information on hurricanes, your first stop should always be the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida. These are the real experts, and the only ones you should rely on to track and forecast the storm.

If you are on Twitter, you should also follow @FEMA, @CraigatFEMA, @NHC_Atlantic, @NHC_Pacific and @ReadyGov.


While we use hurricane season, and recent events like earthquakes and wildfires, to reinforce the need for preparedness, we should all be striving for `all threats’ preparedness, not focusing on one single scenario. Every home should have no less than a 72-hour supply of emergency food and water, a good first aid kit, emergency lighting (not candles!), a battery operated radio, and a disaster plan.


Basic kit : NWS radio, First Aid Kit, Lanterns, Water & Food & cash

For more on preparedness, you may wish to revisit some of these recent blogs:

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