Local Expert: Don't Overhype Local Hurricane Potential Just Yet
Meteorologist warns that an active pattern increases our odds, but a lot has to happen for Jersey to be hit
Record heat has many locals thinking that the Jersey Shore could face tropical activity. Some feel like we dodged a bullet last week as former Tropical Storm Emily went out to sea. But a casual observer to this Atlantic Hurricane season may say it was over-hyped.
Meteorologist Steven DiMartino operates his own forecast consulting firm in Freehold, nynjpaweather.com, and says he has seen signs of this summer’s heat since late winter.
“There’s a lot of cooling in the stratosphere. In fact, there’s so much that it is causing a compression and heating in the troposphere. We live in the troposphere, and it is where our weather originates,” he said.
According to the National Weather Service, July was the warmest on record in Philadelphia. The average temperature in the City of Brotherly Love was 82.4 degrees during July.
DiMartino also blames the lingering La Nina pattern for the high temperatures. He says that the warmer weather and above normal ocean temperatures are definitely not unheard of.
“Sure the oceans are a little bit warmer than usual right now, but it isn’t as extreme as one may think. Our data sets for ocean temperatures are only really good through about the 1950s, and the last time we had a pattern similar to this was the 1930s,” he said.
And the current water patterns can also be blamed for the storms we saw this past winter, but it doesn’t necessarily mean the Jersey Shore will see an increase in hurricanes this summer and fall.
“June and July are always relatively quiet months. They’re like the preshow before the season starts. In fact, in our peak hurricane years, we start to see a spike in tropical activity right around Aug. 10, and we definitely will see that this year. I wouldn’t be surprised if we had four storms churning in the tropics at once,” he said Sunday.
According to data released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) tropical season’s generally ‘peak’ around Sept. 10, which is still about a month away.
NOAA reports that an 81 degree water reading was reported early Monday just off the Ship Bottom coastline. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that we should batten down the hatches in our area for later this year.
“A lot has to happen for a storm to get here. Yes, the increase in activity will result in slightly higher odds of a storm reaching our area, but I think most of the storms will curve out to sea after the North Carolina coast,” DiMartino predicts.
The upper level winds that steer the storm are just one of the factors that that could impact a storm’s ability to travel up to the Mid-Atlantic Coast and affecting New Jersey. DiMartino says that several short term weather factors could affect the tropical systems that do make their way up the coast.
“This year we a dry environment in Monmouth and Ocean counties,” he said, “The dry air will impact the circulation on the western side of the storm, possibly causing it to collapse from the dry air.”
Of course the remnants of any storm could pose a risk to our area. And FEMA reminds that flooding is the most dangerous factor associated with a hurricane or tropical storm.
And as for those who say the Jersey Shore is bound to see a hurricane just because we are overdue for a hit, think again. Cape May sees an average of just one Category 1 storm every 35 years.
“Its not like the storms will say, 'Oh, I haven’t been to the Jersey Shore in a while, '" DiMartino chuckled. "A lot more goes into it."
In the coming days, Patch will ask the National Hurricane Center's lead forecaster for his opinion on the season, and check up with New Jersey's Office of Emergency Management about how they're preparing.
The Atlantic Hurricane Season runs through Nov. 30.