Friday, June 01, 2007

First Day of Hurricane Season....Tropical Storm Barry

In North America, they're called hurricanes: mammoth tropical cyclones that can stretch 300 to 1000km across and 15km high and that that each year kill up to 15,000 people globally and cause billions of dollars in damage. Their average lifespan is 9 days, but can vary from 2 to 3 hrs to 2 to 3 weeks. Recently the North Atlantic experienced its most active decade, averaging yearly: 15 tropical storms and 8 hurricanes (4 major).

Tropical Storms often begin as thunderstorms that pull in warm, moist air off the ocean surface, remove its energy, and then push the spent air through their tops. As long as sea water is above 27 C for a considerable depth and winds co-operate, the disturbances continue to grow. Within a few days, a cluster of storms and thunderstorms unite into an enormous weather machine. A hurricane is a spiralling mass of cloud converging into an area about 30km across, a world of calm, sinking air, sunshine, and dryness, known as the "eye". The eye is surrounded by the "eyewall", a ring of thunderstorms containing the most violent winds and drenching rains. The huge waves and storm surge - the monstrous wall of water that crashes ashore - produced by hurricanes are often their most destructive elements.


"Tropical Storm Barry emerged on Friday afternoon, appropriately enough on the first day of hurricane season. A hurricane hunter aircraft found the system had winds greater than 39 mph, although its structure remains disorganized, the National Hurricane Center in Miami-Dade County said."

More on Barry can be found here.
The order of names for named storms this year is as follows:



Gregwh said...

Dano, Thanks for your storm post. It brought back some memories for me.

I was actually witness to the Columbus Day Storm,

a Cyclone which hit the Pacific Coast of California,Oregon and Washington State on Oct 12, 1962. I was in Longview, WA. I was only 4 years old but I will never ever forget it. The power of it was awesome. I remember going outside and watching newspapers, garbage can lids, shingles flying overhead at 140K-160K per hour. Our roof was trying to get peeled off, one shingle at a time. Garbage can lids flew down the street like giant killer frisbees. A tree in our front yard broke in half and as I remember was on fire. The sound of it was immense.

I really enjoyed it at the time and figured there would be more to come...but not one since :-). At least 46 fatalities were attributed to this storm, more than for any other Pacific Northwest wind event. In less than 12 hours, over 11 billion board feet (26,000,000 m³) of timber was blown down in northern California, Oregon and Washington combined; some estimates put it at 15 billion board feet (35,000,000 m³). This exceeded the annual timber harvest for Oregon and Washington at the time. This value is above any blowdown measured for East Coast storms, including hurricanes: even the often-cited New England hurricane of 1938, which toppled 2.65 billion board feet (6,000,000 m³), falls short by nearly an order of magnitude.

Estimates put the dollar damage around $230 million to $280 million for California, Oregon and Washington combined, with nearly $200 million occurring in Oregon alone. These figures, in 1962 dollars, are comparable to land-falling hurricanes that occurred within the same timeframe (say 1957 to 1961, Audrey, Donna, Carla). The dollar damage adjusted to 2002 for inflation and population/property increase suggest a $3 to $5 billion storm, if not more.

Happy Storm Chasing


Daniel Wells said...

That must have been quite the experience Greg...I've never been up close and personal with a storm of that magnitude...maybe one day I'll see something like that.

We'll see how active the season is this year.

Anonymous said...

Hopefully the Spanish version of the second part of my 1st name stays out in the ocean!

Anonymous said...

12 October 1962, Vancouver Island, British Columbia: Remnants of Typhoon Freda strikes the Pacific Coast. Wind speeds at Victoria reach 74 km/hr (44 mph) with gusts to 145 km/hr (87 mph). Seven die, $10 million in damage.