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Posted by Karl Eggestad on Aug 2, 2016 9:00:00 AM
Karl Eggestad

We are currently well on our way with both the Northern Atlantic and Pacific Hurricane Seasons. Right now, there are two named tropical storm systems active in the Eastern Pacific: Tropical Storm Frank and Hurricane Georgette.

Although it's not an everyday event, having two parallel named storm systems in one basin does happen quite frequently. Even situations with four and five parallel systems in one basin have occurred in the Eastern Pacific basin. For example, in late August 1974, there were five named storm systems at the same time. As far as records go, for the Atlantic, the highest number of parallel storm systems is lower; where an event of four parallel systems has only occurred twice.

The 2016 Northern Pacific season was off to a late start. There were no named storm systems until the end of June (the normal being two) but this picked up in July, bringing the season to about normal. The Atlantic season, on the other hand, was off to a record early start. With Hurricane Alex, which took place in January, and tropical storm systems Bonnie, Colin and Danielle arriving in June, the season, with four named storm systems by the end of June, was ahead of normal. In fact, Colin and Danielle were the earliest third and fourth named storm systems in a season. However, with no other named storm systems since then, the Atlantic season is now also back to normal.



When and How do Tropical Storms Receive Their Names?

Meteorologists long ago learned that naming tropical storms and hurricanes helps people remember the storms, communicate about them more effectively, and stay safer, if and when a particular storm strikes a coast.

Tropical storms are given names by meteorologists when they display a rotating circulation pattern and wind speeds of 39 miles per hour. A tropical storm develops into a hurricane when wind speeds reach 74 miles per hour.

Meteorologists assign names to tropical storms according to a formal list of names that is approved of prior to the start of each hurricane season. The U.S. National Hurricane Center started this practice in 1950. Now, the World Meteorological Organization generates and maintains the list of storm names. Lists of storm names have been developed for many of the major ocean basins around the world. Today, there are six alphabetical lists of names in use for Atlantic Ocean storms. The lists rotate, one each year. That means the list of this year’s storm names will come up again six years from now.

Storm names are retired if and when a storm is so destructive (deadly or costly) that it is deemed inappropriate to reuse the name. Examples are the disasters of Katrina (2005) and Sandy (2012). This year, some of us are hoping for a memorable (but nondestructive) 11th named storm in the Atlantic basin that would be known as tropical storm Karl* - if the season runs that far.

Current Storm Effect: Better than Normal Surfing Conditions in Oregon and California

At the time being, the systems Georgette and Frank are well away from populated areas, far into the Pacific, and there is no current threat to people or land-fast property. For storm systems like these that are way off at sea, the only threats normally raised  are swells** and surf impact.

The interesting situation right now is that the tropical storm systems are creating only a limited storm surge effect***, where Tropical Storm Frank is driving up waves of up to 6 meters (20 feet) but only in a very limited extent from the storm center (see illustration in clip above). However, a strong wind and swell wave situation is built from the strong high pressure center in the North Eastern Pacific, catering to better than normal surfing conditions along the coast of Oregon and California. 

By combining forecasted and observed data from different sources and different prediction models and datasets, the most significant weather and geoscience effects can be illustrated. The ultimate tool to combine multiple data sources and field types is Metacast from ChyronHego.

Until next time, stay weather aware and weather prepared!

Karl Eggestad, Global Sales Director for Metacast, ChyronHego


*Atlantic hurricane names for the 2016 season include Alex, Bonnie, Colin, Danielle, Earl, Fiona, Gaston, Hermine, Ian, Julia, Karl, Lisa, Matthew, Nicole, Otto, Paula, Richard, Shary, Tobias, Virginie, and Walter. The name Karl has previously been used to name four hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean: in 1980, 1998, 2004 and 2010.

**A swell, in the context of an ocean, sea or lake, is a series of mechanical waves that propagate along the interface between water and air and so they are often referred to as surface gravity waves.

***A storm surge is a coastal flood or tsunami-like phenomenon of rising water commonly associated with low pressure weather systems (such as tropical cyclones and strong extratropical cyclones), the severity of which is affected by the shallowness and orientation of the water body relative to storm path, and the timing of tides. Most casualties during tropical cyclones occur as the result of storm surges.

Contact Karl Eggestad

Topics: Weather, Metacast