Kirstie Zontini: Hurricane season off to quick start

10:45 a.m. Monday, June 26, 2017 Local News
More than one million people in Ohio lost power during a wind storm in September 2009 that was a leftover of Hurricane Ike. The storm hit Ohio and the northern Miami Valley hard. FILE

By Kirstie Zontini

Tropical Storm Cindy brought heavy rain and strong winds to the central Gulf coast last week and was the third named storm of the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season.

Before Cindy was Tropical Storm Bret and Tropical Storm Arlene.

The National Hurricane Center, part of the National Centers for Environmental Prediction, tracks these storms. It is an organization with the purpose of saving lives, property and improving economic efficiency when dealing with tropical cyclones. It’s the agency that issues watches, warnings, forecasts then post analysis of tropical development for the United States similar to what local National Weather Service offices do for other types of weather hazards.

Hurricane season began in June and there have already been two named storms this month. The National Hurricane Center’s Hurricane Season Outlook for this year is predicting an above- normal or near-normal hurricane season. According to the NHC, there is a high probability of 11 to 17 named storms this year, of those storms, five to nine could become hurricanes, and two to four could become major hurricanes.

Starting this year, the National Hurricane Center has also updated some of their weather products. Storm surge from tropical development like hurricanes can be deadly and pose one of the biggest threats to property. This year, Storm Surge Watches/Warnings can be issued. A Storm Surge Watch is, “the possibility of life-threatening inundation from rising water moving inland from the shoreline somewhere within the specified area, generally within 48 hours.” A Storm Surge Warning is, “the danger of life-threatening inundation from rising water moving inland from the shoreline somewhere within the specified area, generally within 36 hours.” Both can help residents and local agencies prepare for this threat in the event of a tropical cyclone.

Another update is watches, warnings and advisories issued for “potential” tropical cyclones. This was seen during the development of Tropical Storm Cindy which threatened land. Advancements in forecasting has allowed the NHC to issue Tropical Storm Watches and Warnings before a disturbance takes on the complete characteristics of a tropical cyclone. Potential tropical cyclones will follow a numerical order. We already had three potential tropical cyclones so the next one will be called Potential Tropical Cyclone Four.

According to the National Hurricane Center, they will also issue experimental Time of Arrival of Tropical Storm Force Winds graphics. These forecasts can help with preparations for coastal communities while a tropical cyclone is developing or is already being tracked by looking closer at the timing of strong winds.

We don’t often get impacts from hurricanes or tropical storms in the Miami Valley but with hurricane season running through November, your Storm Center 7 team will keep you updated on the latest tropical development.

Kirstie Zontini is a Storm Center 7 meteorologist. Eric Elwell, Storm Center 7 Chief Meterologist will return.

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