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Earth Science

Atlantic Hurricane Season 30 Percent Stronger Than Normal 448

MatthewVD writes "The National Hurricane Center reported today that the combined energy and duration of all the storms in the Atlantic basin hurricane season was 30 percent above the average from 1981 to 2010. At Weather Underground, Dr. Jeff Masters blogs that record low levels of arctic ice could have caused a 'blocking ridge' over Greenland that pushed Hurricane Sandy west. Meanwhile, Bloomberg BusinessWeek says, 'it's global warming, stupid.'"
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Atlantic Hurricane Season 30 Percent Stronger Than Normal

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  • Average vs. variance (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DoofusOfDeath ( 636671 ) on Friday November 02, 2012 @12:25PM (#41854157)

    It's interesting to know that this season was 30% above the mean, but what's the variance over that same time period?

    Because for all I know from the summary, half of those years had storm season that were 30% more active than the average.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 02, 2012 @12:30PM (#41854207)

    If the hurricanes are more powerful, that means they are using more energy, right? And my less than great understanding is that less energy equates to cooler temperatures (for a system), so does this mean the hurricanes are helping to cool the earth by converting excess heat into... well... something that's not heat( e.g. motion or water, wind, etc.)?

    Note: I hope this doesn't descend into a flame-war about global warming; the main question is: whatever the temperature, does the energy dissipated by hurricanes ultimately cool the system they are in?

  • Re:Sure it is (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 02, 2012 @12:50PM (#41854485)

    Peter and the Wolf being a musical composition aside...

    I've always felt the message of the boy who cried wolf should be; always respond to an alarm especially in instances where ignoring it can lead to death.

  • by gman003 ( 1693318 ) on Friday November 02, 2012 @01:38PM (#41855087)

    The Saffir–Simpson Hurricane Scale only measures a hurricane's maximum wind speed. While this is reasonably correlated with the damage a hurricane inflicts, it is far from a complete picture. Notably, it disregards:
    Storm size - Sandy was a very wide hurricane, and so the damage was more widespread
    Storm surge - Sandy had a very large storm surge, and hit an area that is poorly protected from flooding
    Rainfall - Hurricanes that drop enough water quickly enough can cause flash floods
    Storm speed - SSHS only measures the wind speed relative to the storm. If the storm itself advances rapidly, it can cause significantly more damage than it would otherwise

    This study used an alternative measurement - the total kinetic energy of the storm. This is a relatively good measure of the power of a hurricane season.

    PS: We've had "mild" seasons since Katrina? News to me, considering 2007 had multiple Category 5s, 2010 is the third-most active season on record, and most of the other years were at best "average". 2006 was actually the only one to be below average.

Thus spake the master programmer: "When a program is being tested, it is too late to make design changes." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"