Tuesday, August 27, 2013

An Image Of Tropical Brilliance

NOAA posted the below image -- plus one showing the Western Pacific -- on Friday, showing the track of 11,967 tropical cyclones that have been tracked across the globe since the 1840's. Granted, that's not every single tropical cyclone that developed since 1842 -- there are probably hundreds of, perhaps even a thousand or more, storms that were missed in the era before weather satellites (1960's)...back in the days when it was just ship reports and postmortem (after a storm moved ashore) that drove the bus on tropical cyclone reporting.  We've come a long, long ways since those days thanks to technology.

The result is a lot of tracking...but it makes for a really nice looking map.

On our side of the globe, you notice the "belt" of tropical traffic that emerges from Africa's western shores through the Atlantic, along with tropical cyclones that develop and push northeast along the East Coast of North America.  The West Coast, thanks to cooler water off of California, sees fewer tropical storms survive from genesis off of the Mexican coastline.

The "neat" thing is how many more storms develop in our part of the Northern Hemisphere compared to the Southern.  A couple of reasons for that include traditionally colder water that lurks off of South America's west coast...even in strong El Nino episodes, the water off of South America's west coast is far too cool for tropical development.  Off of Brazil and Argentina, where waters are a bit warmer, upper level winds are often unfavorable for development...but a few systems *have* developed. If you squint at your monitor really, really hard you may see those tracks off of Brazil.

There are two sets of brilliant images -- one showing the tracks themselves (which we've outlined in a couple of spots above), the other showing the intensity of those storms (which provides for a more brilliant contrast in how stronger storms tend to track or cluster in certain areas geographically).