Sep 182002
 
Authors: Helyna Bledsoe

The 2002 hurricane season has been relatively calm compared to past years. However, tropical storm Isidore is expected to become a hurricane within the next 24 hours, said CNN Headline News.

Tropical storm Isidore is currently threatening Jamaica with heavy rains that have lead to flash floods and mud slides and a warning has been launched to the Cayman Islands. The weatherchannel.com and CNN Headline News report that Isidore will probably turn into a hurricane within the next 24 hours, but the core of the storm should stay away from Florida, bringing only heavy rains to the tip of the peninsula.

Another tropical storm, Josephine, is currently 735 miles off the northeast of Bermuda and is expected to dissipate within the next day. “(Josephine) is well out in the Atlantic and is not a threat to anyone at this time,” said Jack Bennan, a hurricane specialist at the National Hurricane Center in a report provided by the weatherchannel.com.

The hurricane season started on June 1 and ends on Nov. 30. Many factors influence the intensity of a hurricane and the slightest change in one of those areas can alter the strength and intensity of a hurricane or tropical storm. This year’s factor was a weak El Ni/o in the Pacific which suppressed hurricanes in the Atlantic, said Mark DeMaria, team leader of the Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere at CSU.

“The water in the Atlantic is cooler than usual which creates less intense hurricanes and tropical storms. Next year probably won’t be as calm,” DeMaria said.

“Tropical storms are formed from energy stored in the ocean. The water in the tropics is heated in the late summer and low pressure flows from Africa. The low pressure stirs up the ocean and transfers heat to the atmosphere,” commented DeMaria.

There are roughly 60 pressure systems that flow off of Africa, but only about 10 become hurricanes, DeMaria said. “This process happens every year.”

The Hurricane Center, in Georgia, continuously monitors the Atlantic and they know the instant when a storm forms. A hurricane hunter aircraft is sent out and the forecast is updated every six hours until the storm is gone. The Center can predict a storm three days in advance. Once predicted, a warning is sent out 24 hours in advance to the emergency management community.

“Scientists have gotten better at predicting hurricanes due to new technology. They are able to pinpoint twice as accurately as they did in the 1960s,” DeMaria said.

CSU tools were used for the first time in tropical storm Dolly and were also utilized in hurricane Gustav.

“Colorado State University is developing forecast tools to improve predictions,” DeMaria said. “They helped improve predictions in intensity and changes.”

Audrey Padgett, freshman equine science and former Florida resident, said hurricane season “becomes a major issue on the news.” She lived on the inside of the inter-costal region. She was evacuated only twice in the 17 years that she lived there.

“(When we were evacuated) we had to drive inland. A lot of stubborn people that live in condos on the beach board up and stay there. Most of the people are like ‘It is hurricane season; life goes on.’ People just kind of blow it off because you just get desensitized to it,” she said.

Many people don’t realize that the Pacific Ocean produces more hurricanes than the Atlantic. However, because those storms rarely reach land the general public often overlooks them.

“What counts is one that hits land,” DeMaria said.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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