When is a hunch more than a hunch?
Perhaps after decades of observation and experience?
This is my 25th Hurricane Season as a professional Meteorologist, 50th as a New England Weather Fanatic..
and I have a hunch about how this hurricane season may play out.
Since the record late snow and cold, to the record wet May-June, (and now July too), we have been getting strong signals that this will be a big Hurricane year for the eastern United States.
First, a list of events that caught my eye.
The April 16-17 snow and cold in Colorado broke records from 1944.
In Kansas City MO, the high temperature of 41F on May 2nd was colder than the MO May state record 43F from May 5, 1944.
On May 3rd Galveston Texas cooled to 50F, broke the City May record of 52 set May 4, 1954.
I could not find an analogy for the May snow in Arkansas, because it's 'never' happened before, to anyone's recollection anyway.
These extreme Cold & Snow events are a result of high amplitude steering currents, caused in part by the weather in Greenland. Greenland has been experiencing the coldest weather on earth, 'relative to normal', and that Cold is heavy, it creates a blocking high pressure in the North Atlantic. The cold wants to go south but is cut off, so it bleeds south and west into North America.
But that heavy cold is also like a dam, preventing the hot summer air from the Pacific and Central America from advancing north and east, or it puts up a big fight. That fight is manifests in extremes like the record wide El Reno Tornado. Either way, something has to give.
When the dam releases, as it has to eventually (that is what weather does), then watch out, here comes the heat!
By May 15th the cold air dam broke, Saint James MN hit 102F, just days after a record late season snowfall. (climatological note, not related to hurricane forecast, that 102F is well short of the MN May record 112F from 1934.)
The eastern Canada cold air dam formed again late in the month of May when 34" of snow fell on Mt.Whiteface NY- another 'never happened' on Memorial Day weekend before.. at least to anyone's recollection.
A week later The Northeastern US finally heat up, Concord NH hit 94F, only tying the June 1st high temperature record of 94F from 1879.
During these extremes we witnessed records going down from 1879, 1944, and 1954. Bells and Whistles should now be going off.
These are all big hurricane years for New England.
My Dad, Albert E. Kelley, (call him Bert, or Zeke) says the 1944 hurricane is the worst.. of his recollection.. for Cape Cod. Yes, worse than 1938.. he says.
Other than seasonal shifts, little in the prevailing pattern has changed.The pattern consists of seemingly endless pushes of cold from Greenland and the North Pole through southern and eastern Canada into the central and eastern United States.
Much of that bottled up cold is a result of the North Atlantic Blocking, a pattern feature that has stuck out since before Hurricane Sandy re-curved into New Jersey last fall.
The record heat in the southwest pushes up against that cold, digging out a trough in the central US. The persistent strong Bermuda High pressure forces a ridge up the east coast.
We have already been brushed by post tropical storm Andrea. And week after week of tropical downpours, making this the wettest May-June on record for parts of New England. Burlington Vermont received 21.1" rainfall May 7- July 7.
This week we have another forecast of daily drenching downpours as the third backdoor cold front (cold backing southwest from Greenland), in 3 weeks pushes south into our tropical humidity.
We also have a new feature in the south Atlantic.A tropical wave from Africa may strengthen to Tropical Cyclone Chantal by mid week.
This may be another threat for New England by July 16-18 or so.
This weekend, July 14-15, is a good example of the kind of set up we are talking about. A huge ridge in the western US, a huge Bermuda High in the western Atlantic, blocking in the north Atlantic, and a major cool trough between the Mississippi River and The Appalachians. As well as developing Tropical Cyclone Chantal near The Bahama's.
It's still early for a hurricane in New England. Residents of Cuba, The Bahama's and Florida should be more worried about Chantal, in my opinion. If Chantal tries to run the coast, she hits some pretty cold air and goes extra Tropical, but extra Tropical can get pretty bad too.
Hurricane Irene, and the Christmas Blizzard in 2011, Hurricane Sandy, and the Blizzards of 2013 are similar to what happened back then (1938-1960).
It matches the pattern.
Ask anyone who remembers 1938, 1944, 1954, 1955, & Donna in 1960. All worse than Bob in 1991.