The 2005 hurricane season, still in progress, has already established a record for the number of hurricanes and named storms to cross the Atlantic Ocean. For anyone who didn’t already know, there have officially been 21 Atlantic hurricanes so far this year: Arlene, Bret, Cindy, Dennis, Emily, Franklin, Gert, Harvey, Irene, Jose, Katrina, Lee, Maria, Nate, Ophelia, Philippe, Rita, Stan, Tammy, Vince, and Wilma.
Now there’s tropical storm Alpha. That’s right; hurricanes get named when they are only tropical storms. Since this is the first time in history that we’ve gone through the list of names assigned for 2005 by World Meteorological Organization who created the six year rotating list of names and rarely retires a name. The names all begin with the letters of the English alphabet excluding the 5 letters Q, U, X, Y, and Z ”“ thus 21 names.
What now? Well, although they never expected to have more than 21 storms in a single season, they established the contingency plan ”“ using the Greek Alphabet. Good thing, because tropical storm Alpha just passed by Cuba while Wilma was hammering the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico before rocketing northeast through the Florida peninsula.
But what is it that is causing this hurricane season to be so much worse than previous years? And remember, the official hurricane season doesn’t end until November 30th.
Generally, the earth rotates from west to east ”“ thus the sun rises in the east every morning. The speed of rotation is a well known 24 hours (less a fraction of a second that we compensate for on the calendar every 400 years by losing a leap year day!) That makes the speed of the surface of the earth at the equator just over 25000 miles (the circumference of the earth) per 24 hours or roughly 1,040 miles per hour! Of course the air isn’t attached so it doesn’t move quite do quickly. As you move north and south from the equator, the circumference becomes increasingly smaller until you reach the poles where the circumference is 0! So At the 45 degrees N and S latitudes the surface speed is slower because the circumference is only .7 times 25000 miles in 24 hours or a mere 729 miles per hour.
Enough of the math. If you have ever stood in a dense fog or a smoky room and waved your hand, you’ve seen the swirls of smoke than curl away from your moving hand. These vortices curl in opposite directions on either edge of your hand ”“ like the horns of a mountain ram. The same thing happens near the equator on every planet ”“ including earth.
Most continents have mountains or terrain features that keep the wind from becoming too intense. Western Africa is not one of those continents. The northern deserts of this land mass provide an unobstructed launching pad for strong winds to develop and blow off the continent into the open waters of the eastern Atlantic Ocean. Heated by the dry heat of the deserts at the surfaces and pushed by the earth’s rotation, the dry air primed to become a water pump as it passes over the ocean waters.
Whether these winds become something more than a warm ocean breeze depends on several things. The most significant of which for our discussion is the temperature of the ocean that the winds pass over. Cold water does not evaporate easily until it gets cold enough to reach the triple point of water. Cold water drains energy from the warm winds and counters the destructive force by slowing the wind down.
This year, however, the average temperature in the Atlantic current has been 10 degrees warmer than normal for past years. Instead of de-energizing the African winds, the water has energized them instead. The unusually warm water temperatures have become a breeding ground for storm after storm. There have been as many as 5 active named storms at one time during this season ”“ 3 has been the maximum in the past.
So why is the ocean so much warmer this season?
Good question. Although there is a 10-15 year cycle that has been observed since the technology has allowed us to track these storms, the data is still in its infancy in terms of historic time. It’s possible that this is just the normal cycle of things.
The global warming ideologists are already claiming it is the result of man’s total abuse of our environment that is responsible. Unfortunately for them, it has the icecaps haven’t melted away yet and the whole in the ozone layer, according to recently released NASA data, is actually closing! So even if you believe the catastrophic prophecies forecast to result from global warming, it appears that the warming is reversing!
It might be possible to correlate the increase in hurricane activity with the seismological activity increases observed all over the globe. The number and strength of earthquakes has been on the increase as well. The recent tsunamis serve as a grim reminder that the sub oceanic fault lines are as active as any.
Remember too that the area of the Atlantic that seems to be spawning this season’s cyclonic killers is also an area where the highest incidence of UFO sightings occurs on an annual basis. Perhaps there is an alien factor yet to be considered.
So what do we have? A lot of possibilities and no firm answers ”“ for now, it’s simply unexplainable.
By the way, did you know that the Pacific hurricanes have a separate list of names just for them! (See http://www.fema.gov/kids/hunames.htm)