Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Atlantic Hurricane Season begins today

The 2011 Atlantic Hurricane Season begins today, June 1, and continues through November 30. Tropical activity in the Atlantic/Caribbean/Gulf basins tends to peak around September 10, as displayed on this chart:

Here is the list of names for the 2011 season:

These are the long-term averages for tropical activity in the Atlantic:
  • Named Storms (either Tropical Storm or Hurricane strength): 11 cyclones
  • Hurricanes (named storms that reach hurricane strength): 6 cyclones
  • Major Hurricanes (named storms that reach Category 3, 4, or 5): 2 cyclones
You can learn about the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale by clicking here.

If tropical cyclones form this early in the season, they tend to form in the Gulf, western Caribbean, or off the coast of Florida around the Bahamas.

There are a number of "ingredients" that must be present for a tropical cyclone to develop and mature, and if some of these key elements are missing, a storm will likely not be able to intensify to its maximum potential:

We are monitoring a small low pressure system 300 miles east of Charleston, South Carolina this morning that could exhibit tropical characteristics over the next couple of days, even though that chance is low. Conditions there are not favorable for tropical development, but here's the infrared satellite view of the disturbance as of 6:15 AM EDT Wednesday:

Although that system off the coast of South Carolina should not impact Virginia, it still serves as a good heads up! With a low pressure system that close to the Virginia coastline, now is a good time to brush up on our risks in Virginia from tropical systems.

Tropical Storm Force Winds are one of the threats we tend to experience from a tropical system in central Virginia. Here are the sustained wind speed classifications to know:

Tropical systems do affect Virginia regularly, being brushed by one or hit with the remnants of a tropical system about once a year. A hurricane will affect the Commonwealth about once every 2-3 years. But we rely on these tropical systems for a good chunk of our September rainfall, so they can be beneficial when they pass over our region (as long as they don't stall and produce too much rainfall in too short a time!).

Before these threats arrive this season, you need to prepare! Here are some essential items you should include in a disaster kit:

If a tropical system approaches the Commonwealth this season, here are some actions you can do before the storm arrives to be ready:

Click here to learn more about hurricane safety and how to prepare for this season.

The outlook for this season calls for average to slightly above-average tropical activity in the Atlantic Basin as a result of warmer-than-normal ocean temperatures in the Atlantic, and relatively low wind shear from a weakening La Nina in the Pacific.

Stay with CBS6, we'll keep you ahead of the storm.

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