By SHELDON MOORE
Special to the PRESS
April 7, a brief news conference followed a morning session of the National Tropical Weather Conference. Held at the Courtyard Marriott, South Padre Island, the event featured Colorado State’s Dr. Phillip Klotzbach, designer of the U.S. Landfalling Probability webpage.
Dr. Klotzbach pointed to several factors which enhance the possibility of an active 2022 tropical storm season. Perhaps primary among these is this year’s apparent absence of the El Nino current that tends to increase vertical wind shear. Wind shear interferes with the formation and strengthening of tropical events.
Klotzbach did go on to point out that the elusive El Nino could still make a timely appearance and have a positive effect on this tropical season. Historically, this has occurred in a few past seasons. Additional factors the professor points to are warmer than normal subtropical Atlantic and Caribbean waters.
To best illustrate his probability findings, Klotzbach compares them with the running average for the thirty years 1991—2020. His probability for 19 named storms this season compares with the actual average of 17.2 during that historical period. Klotzbach’s probability for nine hurricanes this season compares with an actual average of 7.2 hurricanes during that 30-year historical period. Lastly, his probability for four major hurricanes is slightly higher than the 3.2 actual average for the years 1991-2020.
Another subject the professor addressed was the recent increase in rapid intensification of tropical systems. This is when sustained wind speeds increase by more than 35 miles per hour in a 24-hour period. He pointed out that this is a major concern as it leaves a shorter period for warnings and evacuation recommendations to be accurately issued.
Following the morning session, a short Press Conference was held. Notable among the attendees was long time Valley television weather personality Tim Smith. His question for Dr. Klotzbach was when the last probability for a less active than normal tropical season had been issued. Klotzbach responded that that was the year 2018. Unfortunately, that probability prediction ended up being exceeded.
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