Earlier this week, the Dr. Gray and his team at Colorado State University issued their initial outlook for the 2009 hurricane season. The early outlook predicts a continuation of the above-normal tropical activity we’ve seen over the past few years. The outlook is for 14 storms, compared to over nine in a normal year, and seven hurricanes, compared to six in a normal year. There should be three major hurricanes, and there’s a 63% chance of a major hurricane making landfall somewhere in the United States–about 20% greater than in a normal year.
Last year at this time, CSU predicted there would be 13 named storms, seven hurricanes and three major hurricanes. The result ended up being 16 storms, eight hurricanes and five major hurricanes, so they underestimated. However, their new model for predicting hurricanes from this far out is apparently more accurate than the model they used previously.
A few other weather tidbits:
if tonight’s full moon seems brighter than usual, it’s because the moon is closer to the earth than it’s been for the past few years, and the first time in 15 years that the close approach, caused by the Moon’s elliptical orbit, has occurred during a full moon. Coincidentally, the moon is riding higher in the sky than any other full moon this year. The sun and moon follow opposite visual paths–when the sun is low close to the winter solstice, the moon is high in the sky, while in the summer, when the sun is overhead, the moon is low in the sky.
Another astronomical factoid — today is the first day that the sun begins to set later in the evening than it has since back on July 5th. Day will continue to shorten for another ten days, due to the sun rising later. We won’t get an earlier sunrise until January 13th.
The storm that brought welcome rain to much of the southeast is now history, having moved up the east coast and causing major power outages in the northeast. Much of Massachusetts was caught in an ice storm, with considerable damage. Albany, New York had .6 inches of ice, while Schenectady reported .88 inches of accumulated ice.
We are about to see a big pattern change in the weather across the United States. The past month or so has been dominated by an upper level trough in the east and a ridge in the west. This pattern brought warmer than normal conditions to the west, and colder than normal weather to the east, as the jet stream dived south, following the path of the trough.
Now, a trough is developing in the west, which will bring colder than normal weather there, but more seasonable, if not warmer than normal weather to the Southeast. There’s a better than normal chance of above normal temperatures for most of the south through Christmas, and it looks like we’ll get some additional rainfall, too. Lake Lanier’s current level is 1051.88 feet–more than ten inches above where it was on Wednesday before it started to rain. The AJC reports that yesterday was the first day since the record low level last December that the lake level in 2008 was higher than it was on the same day in 2007.