NOAA Predicts Near-Normal 2019 Hurricane Season

The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center is predicting that a near-normal Atlantic hurricane season is most likely this year. This outlook forecasts a 40 percent chance of a near normal season, a 30 percent chance of an above normal season and a 30 percent chance of a below normal season. The hurricane season officially extends from June 1 to Nov. 30.

For 2019, NOAA predicts a likely range of nine to 15 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which four to eight could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including two to four major hurricanes (category 3, 4 or 5; with winds of 111 mph or higher). NOAA provides these ranges with a 70 percent confidence. An average hurricane season produces 12 named storms, of which six become hurricanes, including three major hurricanes.

“With the 2019 hurricane season upon us, NOAA is leveraging cutting edge tools to help secure Americans against the threat posed by hurricanes and tropical cyclones across both the Atlantic and Pacific,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross.

“Throughout hurricane season, dedicated NOAA staff will remain on alert for any dan-ger to American lives and communities.”

This outlook reflects competing climate factors. The ongoing El Niño is expected to persist and suppress the intensity of the hurricane season. Countering El Niño is the expected combination of warmer than av-erage sea surface temperatures in the trop-ical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, and an enhanced west African monsoon, both of which favor increased hurricane activity.

“New satellite data and other upgrades to products and services from NOAA enable a more Weather-Ready Nation by providing the public and decision makers with the information needed to take action before, during, and after a hurricane,” said Neil Jacobs, Ph.D., acting NOAA administrator.

The 2019 hurricane season marks the first time NOAA’s fleet of Earth observ-
ing satellites includes three operational next generation satellites. Unique and valuable data from these satellites feed the hurricane forecast models used by forecasters to help users make critical decisions days in advance.

NOAA’s National Weather Service is making a planned upgrade to its Global Forecast System (GFS) flagship weather model — often called the American model — early in the 2019 hurricane season. This marks the first major upgrade to the dynamical core of the model in almost 40 years and will improve tropical cyclone track and intensity forecasts. “NOAA is driving toward a community based devel opment program for future weather and climate modeling to deliver the very best forecasts, by leveraging new investments in research and working with the weather enterprise,” added Jacobs.

NOAA’s National Hurricane Center and NWS office in San Juan will expand the coastal storm surge watches and warnings in 2019 to include Puerto Rico and the
U.S. Virgin Islands. In addition, NHC will display excessive rainfall outlooks on its website, providing greater visibility of one of the most dangerous inland threats from hurricanes.

Also, this season, NOAA’s Hurricane Hunter aircraft will collect higher-resolution data from upgraded onboard radar systems. These enhanced observations will be transmitted in near-real time to hurricane specialists at the National Hurricane Center, the Central Pacific Hurricane Center and forecasters at NWS Weather Forecast Offices.

In addition to the Atlantic hurricane season outlook, NOAA also issued seasonal hurricane outlooks for the eastern and central Pacific basins. A 70 percent chance of an above normal season is predicted for both the eastern and central Pacific regions. The eastern Pacific outlook calls for a 70 percent probability of 15 to 22 named storms, of which eight to 13 are expected to become hurricanes, including four to eight major hurricanes. The central Pacific outlook calls for a 70 percent probability of five to eight tropical cyclones, which includes tropical depressions, tropical storms, and hurricanes.

NOAA’s outlook is for overall seasonal activity and is not a landfall forecast. Hurricane preparedness is critically important for the 2019 hurricane season, just as it is every year. Visit the National Hurricane Center’s website at hurricanes.gov throughout the season to stay current on any watches and warnings.

“Preparing ahead of a disaster is the responsibility of all levels of government, the private sector, and the public,” said Daniel Kaniewski, Ph.D., FEMA deputy administrator for resilience. “It only takes one event to devastate a community so now is the time to prepare. Do you have cash on hand? Do you have adequate insurance, including flood insurance? Does your family have communication and evacuation plans? Stay tuned to your local news and download the FEMA app to get alerts, and make sure you heed any warnings issued by local officials.”

Rain And Wind Warnings As Storm Miguel Lashes Finland

Warnings have been issued in Central Finland throughout the weekend for heavy rain and strong winds from severe thunderstorms, the remains of Storm Miguel, an unusual out-of-season depression that already brought gales and torrential rain to northwest France and the British Isles.

High temperatures were measured in Finland this week, with a record seasonal high of 32.2 degrees Celsius measured in the northwest coastal city of Oulu on Friday. That beat the June record by 0.5C and was more than 14 degrees above average.

Lightning bolts struck Finland about 16,000 times on Saturday. Matti Huutonen, a meteorologist at Finland’s public broadcaster Yle, said that is a large number for this time of year, equivalent to nearly half of the monthly average for June.

Crews were working on Sunday to repair power outages following bands of thunderstorms late on Saturday that left some 20,000 customers without electricity.

Early next week, colder conditions bring a chance of snow into northernmost Finland. Temperatures in southern and central Finland should be near 20C on Monday, a 10-degree drop. Wednesday night may even bring severe frosts to central and northern parts of the country.

‘2018 hottest year’
The Finnish Meteorological Institute has confirmed that 2018 was the hottest year in Finland since records began over 150 years ago, fuelling further concerns over the pace of climate change.

The institute has also confirmed that “about half” of the warmest years on record were all in the previous decade, with 2011, 2013, 2014, and 2015 all shattering heat records.

The summer of 2018 in Finland was unique in that not only did the heatwave last for an extended unbroken period, but there was also exceptionally little rain.

The institute says the trend is further supported by the report’s evidence that winter days with abnormally low temperatures are becoming a thing of the past.

Finland’s top meteorologists even say that daily cold records will soon become “etched in stone”, in that there is little chance that they will ever be surpassed.

March-Like Storm To Blast California With Drenching Rain, Mountain Snow And Severe Weather

After sunshine and pleasant weather grace California early this week, a powerful storm system will barrel into the state during the middle to latter part of the week.

The return of a March-like weather pattern, driven by a large dip in the jet stream, will be the culprit for driving this rare storm into the West Coast.

Rain will first move into Northern California on Wednesday before overspreading the rest of the state by Wednesday night and Thursday.

By the time the storm moves into the Four Corners region later on Friday, the foothills of the Sierra Nevada and parts of Northern and coastal California will receive between 1 to 3 inches of rain.

The hardest-hit locations may receive as much as 4 or 5 inches of rain.

Between 1 and 2 inches of rain is expected in San Francisco, with 0.50 to 1 inch of rain possible in Los Angeles. San Diego may even receive up to 0.50 of an inch of rain from this system.

Even parts of the San Joaquin Valley will have to deal with showers and thunderstorms from Wednesday night into Thursday that could produce localized heavy downpours and some incidents of small hail.

It is extremely unusual for a storm system to bring this amount of rainfall across the state this late in the spring season.

Average rainfall during the month of May ranges from just under 0.75 of an inch in Sacramento to just under 0.50 of an inch in San Francisco and Fresno. San Diego typically receives around 0.10 of an inch for the month.

These cities, as well as many other locations across the state, will receive two to three times their normal monthly rainfall in the span of only two or three days later this week.

Travel will turn slippery with numerous delays on the roadways after the recent stretch of generally dry weather. Motorists traveling on Interstates 5 and 80, as well as secondary roadways, should allow extra time to reach their destination and reduce speed to lessen the risk of hydroplaning.

Lengthy flight delays and cancellations both into and out of the major hubs along the West coast will also be likely, and some flights may have to be rerouted as gusty winds accompany the rain.

In addition, flash flooding of streets and poor drainage areas, as well as smaller streams and creeks, will be a danger to anybody living in flood-prone areas.

Abnormally chilly air will accompany the clouds and rain later this week, with high temperatures struggling to reach the lower to middle 60s F across the Central Valley on Thursday. Normal highs during the middle of May are in the 80s.

Showers may even reach Death Valley on Thursday and keep high temperatures only in the upper 70s after they soar above the century mark early this week.

Accumulating snow is likely at and above 6,000 feet in the Sierra Nevada by Thursday and Thursday night, and up to a foot of snow is possible at the highest elevations.

Snow may fall as low as 5,000 feet for a time, but is likely struggle to accumulate on paved surfaces at that elevation.

Motorists traveling across I-80’s Donner Pass may even have to deal with snow on the roadway for a brief time if snowfall rates become high enough.

At Least 15 Dead As Cyclone Fani Moves Toward Bangladesh

Dhaka, Bangladesh — A mammoth preparation exercise that included the evacuation of more than 1 million people appears to have spared India a devastating death toll from Cyclone Fani, one of the biggest storms in decades. However, the full extent of the damage was yet to be known, officials said Saturday.

The cyclone packed winds of 155 miles per hour when it made landfall in eastern Odisha state on Friday, equivalent in strength to a Category 4 hurricane, said Mohammad Heidarzadei, an expert on cyclones at Brunel University of London.

As of late Saturday, India’s National Disaster Response Force director S.N. Pradhan said three people had been killed, though the storm smashed thatched-roof huts, uprooted trees and power lines, ripped the roof off a medical college and sprayed the emptied coastline with debris. “The precautions that have been taken should be continued,” Pradhan said.

Officials cautioned that the death toll could rise as communications were restored.

Fani crossed over India’s West Bengal state and moved northeast toward Bangladesh on Saturday, weakening from a severe cyclonic storm to a cyclonic storm.

At least a dozen people had been confirmed killed in Bangladesh as the cyclone hovered over the country’s southwestern coast early Saturday, delivering battering rain storms. Lightning killed at least six people, local newspapers and TV reported. However, the death toll had not increased by Saturday afternoon, suggesting effective preparedness in Bangladesh as well.

Bad weather from the storm system was projected to affect around 100 million people in South Asia, from India’s distant Andaman Islands to Mount Everest in Nepal.

The relatively low casualty count demonstrates much improved disaster readiness in India since 1999, when a “super” cyclone killed around 10,000 people and devastated large parts of Odisha.

“In the event of such a major calamity like this — where Odisha was hit by close to a super-cyclone — instead of being a tragedy of humongous proportion, we are in the process of restoring critical infrastructure. That is the transformation that Odisha has had,” the state’s top government official, Naveen Patnaik, said in a statement.

India’s disaster response agency said authorities were working “on war footing” to restore power and communications, and clear roads of debris. Widespread power outages, damaged water supplies and roads blocked by fallen trees and power lines made transport around the affected area difficult, officials said.

Pravat Ranjan Mohapatra, the deputy relief commissioner at Odisha’s emergency center, said his phone line and internet were down for most of Saturday.

“Earlier we were not able to connect with authorities for infrastructure damage, how many houses are damaged or how many people have died or were injured,” he said.

According to the Press Trust of India, one victim was a teenager killed by a falling tree in the district of Puri, a popular tourist area in Odisha. Another woman was killed while fetching water when she was struck by flying debris loosened from a concrete structure. Another woman, age 65, died after a suspected heart attack at a cyclone shelter, PTI reported.

India: Heat Wave Continues As Fani Threatens Eastern Areas With Flooding, Damaging Wind

Residents along India’s eastern coast are being warned about potential impacts from Cyclonic Storm Fani this week, while no relief will come from the dangerous heat in the nation’s northern and western regions.

Fani strengthened into a cyclonic storm on Saturday, local time. The strength of a cyclonic storm equates to a tropical storm in the Atlantic or northern Pacific basins.

Further strengthening can cause the system to intensify into the equivalent of a hurricane and be called a severe cyclonic storm or a very severe cyclonic storm by Tuesday with further strengthening expected later this week.

Seas will build and become dangerous for boaters and swimmers around the southern Bay of Bengal as the storm intensifies.

Residents along the eastern coast of India are being alerted to potential other hazards.

“The main threats from this storm will be heavy rain, flooding and damaging wind gusts,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Jason Nicholls said, “but the exact amount of rain and strength of the winds will be dependent on how close it tracks to the coast.”

Latest indications spare Sri Lanka and Tamil Nadu in India from the brunt of the cyclone’s rain and wind.

Even if the storm bypasses Sri Lanka and Tamil Nadu, areas to the north may not be as fortunate.

One scenario for the storm is to threaten the coast from northern Andhra Pradesh to Odisha and West Bengal with heavy rain and wind later this week into the weekend.

Landfall as a dangerous tropical cyclone may occur in this scenario putting millions of people at risk for damaging winds, inundating storm surge, and flooding rainfall. Locations from Visakhapatnam northward to the border with Bangladesh are at risk for landfall at this time.

Beyond West Bengal, flooding rain and strong winds may accompany the storm as it slams into Bangladesh with an eventual track into northeastern India later in the weekend or early next week.

A second scenario would keep the worst impacts from Fani offshore from India as the storm tracks northward across the Bay of Bengal this week.

Coastal locations may see brief downpours and gusty winds; however, damaging winds and widespread flooding would not be expected.

A direct hit on Bangladesh or northern Myanmar would be possible in this scenario bringing life-threatening impacts to the region from this weekend into early next week.

Download the free AccuWeather app to remain aware of the latest projected path of the cyclone and any threats for your community.

Regardless of the storm’s exact track, it will not press far enough inland to bring any heat relief to northern and western India.

Thursday marked the hottest day so far this year in the National Capital Region (NCR), when temperatures soared to 43.2 C (109.8 F) at the Indira Gandhi International Airport.

Similar temperatures were felt across the city and surrounding NCR from Saturday into Monday.

Temperatures will remain dangerously high each day this week across the NCR and much of central and northern India.

“India endures lengthy heat waves each year prior to the arrival of monsoonal rainfall; however, this heat has arrived earlier than normal in recent years, putting more people at risk for heat-related illnesses,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Eric Leister said.

Residents will have to continue to take the necessary precautions to avoid heat-related illnesses.

Drinking plenty of water, spending time in the shade and wearing light clothing will be necessary. When possible, strenuous outdoor activity should be avoided during the hottest part of the day.

Stagnant conditions contributing to the high heat are also resulting in dangerously poor air quality conditions. Face masks should be worn by anyone spending time outdoors. Children, the elderly and those with respiratory or cardiovascular health conditions should avoid spending time outside as much as possible.

Tropical Cyclone Kenneth Death Toll Rises To 38 In Mozambique, Officials Say

The death toll from Tropical Cyclone Kenneth has climbed to 38, the Mozambican government’s disaster management institute said on Monday.

Four people have also died in the island nation of Comoros, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

The cyclone, the strongest storm to hit the region since records began, made landfall in Mozambique on Thursday.

Kenneth is the second powerful tropical storm to hit southeast Africa in five weeks. Despite its power, Cyclone Kenneth is slow-moving, leading experts to fear it could continue to dump torrential rains on an area still reeling from the devastation wrought by Cyclone Idai.

That storm killed 750 people across southern Africa, forced thousands into camps in March and wreaked an estimated $1 billion worth of damage — about 10% of Mozambique’s GDP.

In the commercial hub and provincial capital of Pemba, residents Monday said they hoped the worst was over after a weekend of heavy rains and flooding since Cyclone Kenneth made landfall Thursday.

“The rain has stopped, at least for now. There is still water on the ground but the main roads in the city are now passable,” said resident Innocent Mushunje.

Kevin Record, a hotel owner on the hard-hit island of Ibo, said the region was still without power and “waiting for the cavalry to arrive.”

Forecasters said northern Mozambique could see up to 500 millimeters of rain (about 20 inches) over the next five days, which could exacerbate the flooding.

“The soil is saturated with rain and the rivers are already swollen, so the emergency is likely to get worse,” said Michel Le Pechoux, UNICEF’s deputy representative in Mozambique. “We’re doing everything we can to get teams and supplies on the ground to keep people safe.”

Save the Children said in a separate statement that the storm “has caused extensive damage, ripping homes apart and wiping out entire communities,” and is warning that current conditions have made it extremely difficult to deliver aid to those in need.

“We have grave fears for the thousands of families currently taking shelter under the wreckage of their homes. They urgently need food, water and shelter to survive the coming days,” said Nicholas Finney, Save the Children’s response team leader in Mozambique.

Finney said that the NGO tried to reach some of the hard-hit areas Sunday but were forced to turn back “because rivers had burst their banks and the roads were under water.”

“Flights and helicopters have also been grounded and this means humanitarian access is virtually impossible. We are desperately trying to look for ways to deliver emergency supplies,” said Finney.

The United Nations’ disaster response agency pledged to release $13 million to pay for food, shelter, health, water and sanitation assistance in both Comoros and Mozambique.

“The funds will help in reducing the suffering of the affected people including mitigating the impact on food security caused by the destruction and loss of farmland, livestock and fisheries, in addition to the damage and destruction of homes,” said Mark Lowcock, the UN’s emergency relief coordinator.

Mozambique’s natural disaster management said last week that nearly 3,400 homes were destroyed and more than 18,000 were displaced by Kenneth.

Another Tropical Cyclone Is Taking Aim At Storm-Wrecked Mozambique

Another tropical storm is heading toward Mozambique, the southern African nation still reeling from the historic death and devastation wrought by Cyclone Idai.

The new storm, Tropical Cyclone Kenneth, strengthened rapidly Wednesday, with a wind speed of 140 kph (85 mph), and will continue to intensify as it moves over the Comoro Islands. It is expected to make landfall Thursday in the far north of Mozambique, about 1,000 km (620 miles) north of where Idai struck.

“Residents along the Mozambique/Tanzania border should make preparations for storm surge along the coasts, heavy rainfall, and hurricane-force winds,” NASA warned.

In Tanzania, Kenneth is expected to hit the coastal areas of Dar es Salaam, the port city of Tanga and Pemba Island, according to the Tanzania Meteorological Agency. Strong winds and rain may affect the Lake Victoria basin, its mountainous regions and the coast, forecasters said.
While the zone slammed by Idai will be spared, Kenneth still will strike Mozambique just one month after that storm killed more than 700 people and displaced tens of thousands. It caused an estimated $1 billion dollars in damage, or nearly 10% of the nation’s gross domestic product.

Kenneth could be stronger, less devastating than Idai
Kenneth formed this week in the southern Indian Ocean as a moderate tropical storm and moved north of Madagascar, with maximum winds on Tuesday of 65 kph (40 mph).

The storm could strengthen to the equivalent of a Category 3 hurricane, with winds up to 195 kph (120 mph). That would make it stronger than Idai was when it hit central Mozambique and could rank it among the strongest storms to ever hit the country.

However, Kenneth is not expected to have as devastating an impact on the country as Idai, which delivered heavy rains for days before and after making landfall on March 15, with winds near 175 kph (109 mph).

Idai’s sustained rainfall, combined with strong winds and storm surge, set the stage for catastrophic flooding that submerged towns and villages as the storm pushed inland toward Zimbabwe and Malawi.

Northern Mozambique also is not as populated as Beira, the population hub struck by Idai. Several rivers come together there and flow into the Mozambique Channel, a factor that made the region more vulnerable to flooding.

Moreover, the nation’s northern region has not seen intense rainfall in recent days, which hopefully will mitigate the impact of flooding compared with Idai.

Tropical Cyclone Leon-Eline remains the strongest cyclone to ever hit Mozambique. It ripped through the region in 2000, with winds stronger than 210 kph (130 mph) and killed about 800 people.