Hail can be a very destructive product that is oftentimes associated with strong and severe thunderstorms. Depending on the overall strength of the thunderstorm, the size can vary greatly. We can everything from pea to nickel size on the small end to baseball and softball size on the larger end of the spectrum. The taller the storm, the more likely the formation of hail becomes. Some storms can tower to over 55k feet, almost DOUBLE the height commerical airplanes fly!
There are a few factors that we need to look at to get a general idea of where we “could” go this season. Keep in mind, long range forecasts are to be taken with a tiny grain of salt... as we saw with how the Winter panned out, everything you want to see line up can, and you get nothing in return. Granted, we had some issues early in the season that didn’t really budge until later on... but i digress. We are going to focus on what’s coming, not the past.
Factor 1: El Niño
For those of you unfamiliar with the term it refers to a swath of water along the equatorial pacific that is above average in terms of temperature. It's currently weak. The last strong one we had was back in 2016, which helped drive up the global temp. This will likely NOT be a "super nino". What does water in the Pacific have to do with Hurricane season in the Atlantic Basin? Well, a lot, actually. The warmer the water is, the stronger the trade winds going into the Gulf and Caribbean are. The stronger the winds, the more hostile the environment becomes for development of tropical depressions, storms and hurricanes. IF they do develop, they are open weak and only last a few days, they lack stability for growth as the thunderstorms die down as they encounter wind shear. If the El Nino remains intact, even to a small degree, it will help.
Factor 2: Cooler Main Development Region (M.D.R.)
I'm banking on this year's season being similar to last year... in that I am not expecting MANY long tracked storms across the Atlantic. Of course, there WAS Florence that made the entire journey so there are always exceptions to that rule. Look at the map. I circled a vast area of real estate that is below average right now. Yes - water temps fluctuate but let’s assume things stay relatively consistent - then we’d be looking at reduced activity in an area that is notorious for lots of development. Cut this area out of the equation and you’re not looking at many storms in which we track for 2 weeks across the Atlantic.
Factor 3: Warm water in the Gulf and off the east coast. This was the same type of setup we dealt with last year. This worries me - A LOT. Why? Home grown, short lived storms that can pack a punch. As we saw last year with Florence and Michael, you don’t need a lot of area for a storm to explode. Both hurricanes brought major damage to North Carolina and Florida. These storms weren’t very long lived and they intensified quickly because of so much warm water. Similar storms could form this year.
Colorado State issued their forecast last week. They’re going with an “average” year. I can get behind that idea, for sure based on the factors I outlined. My numbers are a little higher due to the fact I believe we will see some development right out of the gate. In fact, just last week we had "Post Tropical Cyclone Andrea", technically the first named system of the year. The NHC tends to name areas of convection that have very little chance of forming into anything worth mentioning. - no clue why
What’s this mean for our region? Well - we won’t know until something is threatening us. We live at the shore. We must ALWAYS be on alert. For us, our prime time doesn’t start until late August. We all know what devastation Sandy brought, I say this not to scare anyone but to reassert that we can never truly be complacent: there will be another sandy. I don’t know if it’s next year, 10 years or 50 years, but we will see another massive storm. It’s inevitable.
Take the time to come up with an emergency plan. Communicate it with your entire family. Know where the evacuation routes are. Get your supplies ready: batteries, candles, canned foods, water. You never know when you’ll need them.
As with every forecast, I put it out there and we will monitor things as they happen. I’ll always be here every step of the way
For me... my wedding is in August. My honeymoon is in the Caribbean at the heart of hurricane season. Am I crazy?