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Media awash with hurricane season early predictions

By Ernie Williamson

The Bulletin

When I awakened in the middle of the night, I noticed it was warm and stuffy.

I threw off the blanket.

I fell back to sleep but woke up a few winks later.  

It was still warm. I turned on the ceiling fan.

The next morning’s news shows confirmed what I was feeling. We were undergoing a record hot February. Temperatures even climbed to 93 in Dallas.

What happened to winter?  Many forecasters say it is over for us.

So much for worrying about a repeat of the 2021 deep freeze. Thankfully, we did not need our new backup generator.

I wondered, however, what the early-in-the-year heat might mean for hurricane season.

Although Colorado State researchers will not release their 2024 hurricane forecast until April 4, many others are already expressing opinions.

A rare early season warning from AccuWeather meteorologists forecasts a “blockbuster” season. Others say it is too early to tell.

I am certainly no expert on hurricanes, but in my reading, I have run across a couple of items you may have missed.

The New York Times reports that for the past year oceans around the world have been much warmer than usual.

January was the hottest January on record, and the heat wave has been particularly pronounced in the Atlantic hurricane region.

Hurricane scientist Jeff Masters says this is important because hurricanes act as heat engines, taking heat energy from the ocean and converting into wind energy. The warmer the ocean, the stronger the hurricane.

“The North Atlantic has been record-breakingly warm,” says Brian McNulty, an expert on hurricane formation at the University of Miami. “It is just astonishing. It does not seem real. “

Meanwhile, as global temperatures continue to increase, making storms more intense, some researchers claim the Saffir-Simpson scale, which measures a hurricane’s wind speeds, does not adequately address the hazards of extreme storms.

The researchers say the scale, which was created in the 1970s and is still used to define hurricane categories, has a weakness in that it tops out at 156 mph or stronger.

The researchers propose expanding the scale so that Category 5 would be capped at wind speeds of 192.  Any hurricanes above that would be Category 6.

Michael Wehner, lead researcher, told CBS News they found that five storms had reached into this hypothetical Category 6, and all of them were recent, since 2013.

One statistic certainly caught my eye. On average, our coast is hit by a hurricane every six years. The last hurricane to hit our area was Harvey. That was in 2017.

Here is hoping that statistic lies. I pray we won’t need that generator.

(Contact Ernie at Or, send letters in care of The Bulletin, P.O. Box 2426, Angleton, TX. 77516).  


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