Monday, September 10, 2007

History-making hurricane year?

I was talked about "halfway through the 2007 hurricane season" yesterday based on my instinctive thinking. A different way of thinking, as given in this article by the Philadelphia Inquirer staff writer Anthony R. Wood, in which he declared this morning that
"The 2007 hurricane season is just approaching its climatological peak, but already it has made history."
Whether or not we are half way through or approaching climatological peak, Wood's statement that this hurricane year has already made history is somewhat surprising to me. What was history making was that out of the seven named tropical storms so far this year:
"Two of them, Dean and Felix, mutated into Category 5 hurricanes, terrorized the Caribbean, and generated ferocious 160 m.p.h. winds."
"Both made landfall as Cat 5's. As far as anyone knows, in 121 years of recordkeeping that's the first time two storms have reached land at that awesome strength in the same season."
So in spite of massive loss of lives in both cases, 40 by Dean and nearly 100 by Felix, the facts are "passed beneath the public radar screen" as Wood puts it. His article is the result of interviewing hurricanes experts to explore the reason for this query. What he found out was rather interesting. According to Lynn "Nick" Shay of University of Miami Rosensteil School:
"Hurricanes tend to pick on different regions from season to season. Florida and the northern Gulf Coast had their catastrophic turns a few years back. North Carolina was a favored target a decade ago."
Obviously hurricanes don't follow the "affirmative action" principle. They choose different preferential targets to picking on from year to year, couldn't care less if it is politically correct or not. Scott Kiser of the National Weather Service's Tropical Cyclone Program explains it as by subtropical ridge with its heavier air tends to repel clouds and rain -- the prime hurricane-steering force. But
"For reasons that defy explanation and prediction, the ridge waxes and wanes and migrates over short- and long-term periods. All that waxing and waning is tied to imponderable global patterns."
So in a nutshell, the hurricane experts don't know much about the "why" either.

So with all the sophisticated gadgets, instruments, measurements, and whatever that's available, physically or politically, plus 121 years of record keeping at their disposal, the hurricane experts still don't really know much about what is really happening out there. May be this is an unfair characterization. But at any rate, it may be somehow comforting to the freaque waves researchers, who got none of hurricane scientists' apparatus except some satellite pictures, if they can not definitively talk about understanding and prediction in any substantive fashion. Similarly to hear any of the freaque wave experts talk about freaque wave prediction glowingly would not necessarily inspire any credence. This is not to seek excuse for the ineptness of freaque waves research, only to underscore the sad facts of lacking or voiding of real freaque wave measurements -- but no one seemed to be perturbed about it.

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