Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Benefits of Beryl

With Subtropical Storm Beryl forming Friday night in the Atlantic, I thought it would be a good time to discuss a couple quick things. In the world today, for very obvious and legitimate reasons, tropical systems have been personified by the media and others as being evil. And with storms like Andrew and Katrina, it's reasonable to expect that to occur. But at times, tropical systems are more beneficial than problematic. And I believe Beryl could potentially be that type of system.

At the left is the latest US Drought Monitor from earlier in the week, showing areas of drought in the Southeast US. Notice that most of Central and South Georgia and North Florida are in the extreme to exceptional drought categories. Check out the charts of precipitation for some cities in that region over the last year, showing long-term drought conditions and rainfall deficits of 10-20":

Savannah, GA
Jacksonville, FL
Tallahassee, FL

The map at the right shows the HPC forecast of precipitation for the next five days, showing that the eastern half of that drought plagued region especially, should end up with a good 1-4" of rainfall. As is the case with tropical systems, higher amounts are possible. This would do wonders to help alleviate drought in some parts of that region, and it would do so without the real concern about major or significant wind damage. Beach erosion and coastal flooding will be an issue of course, but this will be a minor storm from a wind standpoint. I would liken it more to a glorified nor'easter moreso than a tropical storm. That said, it's still a hybrid tropical entity and is classified as such. 

The bottom line though is that this should serve as a reminder that tropical systems are just another part of the global meteorological system of checks and balances. And sometimes in order to balance out the drought, we need the deluge brought by tropical storms.