Tensions high as Russia conducts naval drill with140 warships

Matthew 24:6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.

Important Takeaways:

  • Russia announced Thursday it will hold huge naval drills involving more than 140 warships and supporting vessels this month and in February, at a time of heightened tensions with Western nations.
  • The war games to be held in the Atlantic, Pacific, Arctic, and Mediterranean will involve “more than 140 warships and support vessels, more than 60 aircraft, 1,000 pieces of military equipment, and about 10,000 servicemen,” the defense ministry said in a statement carried by Russian news agencies.

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U.S. government forecasts above-normal 2021 Atlantic hurricane season

By Erwin Seba

HOUSTON (Reuters) -The U.S. government on Thursday forecast an above-normal 2021 Atlantic hurricane season, which is already off to an early start with a storm expected to form off Bermuda this week.

The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) forecast between three and five major hurricanes, with sustained winds of at least 111 miles per hour (178 kph), will form in 2021.

Between six and 10 hurricanes with winds of at least 74 mph (119 kph) are expected out of 13-20 tropical storms in 2021, NOAA forecasters said. Tropical storms have winds of at least 39 mph (63 kph).

The average for tropical cyclones in the Atlantic between 1991 and 2020 is three major hurricanes, seven hurricanes and 14 tropical storms. The average increased after NOAA shifted the 30-year period used to set the averages earlier this year.

The 2020 hurricane season was the most active on record and produced 30 named tropical storms.

Matthew Rosencrans, head of forecasting for the U.S. National Weather Service, said climate change affects storm intensity.

“Climate change has not been linked to the frequency of storms but is has been linked to the intensity of storms,” Rosencrans said.

Academic and commercial meteorologists have also predicted an above-average season for 2021, but not as busy as 2020 because of an end to the La Nina system that promotes storm formation.

Although the hurricane season officially begins on June 1 and continues through Nov. 30, tropical storms in May are not unusual.

“In recent years, we’ve had quite a few storms form prior to June 1,” said Philip Klotzbach, who leads Atlantic hurricane season forecasting at Colorado State University. “Since 2015, we’ve had at least one named storm form prior to June 1 each year.”

There have been 19 named storms in May since 1950, Klotzbach said.

(Reporting by Erwin Seba, additional reporting by Liz Hampton in Denver; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama, Marguerita Choy and Andrew Heavens)

Storm Eta drenches Tampa Bay, threatens more flooding as it moves offshore

(Reuters) – Tropical Storm Eta drenched Florida’s west coast on Thursday after making landfall north of Tampa Bay with 50 mile-per-hour (80 kph) winds, but the system weakened slightly as it moved across the northeastern part of the state and into the Atlantic.

Eta, the 28th named storm of the busiest Atlantic hurricane season on record, according to the Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC), made its fourth landfall at around 4 a.m. on Thursday near Cedar Key, Florida, after it already slammed Central America, Cuba and the upper Florida Keys.

The storm had moved offshore into the Atlantic and was about 40 miles (65 km) north-northeast of Jacksonville on Thursday with maximum sustained winds of 40 miles per hour (65 kph), the NHC said.

Storm surge from Eta in Tampa Bay reached 3 to 4 feet (0.9-1.2 m) above ground inundation, the NHC’s Storm Surge Unit said. The NHC forecasted that swells along the Florida Gulf coast today and the southeastern U.S. coast tonight would be “life-threatening.”

Flooded streets in downtown Tampa resembled lakes and sailboats in Gulfport, a city on Tampa Bay, were beached and tipped over on Thursday, photos on Twitter showed.

The storm was expected to drop an additional 1 inch to 3 inches ((2.5-7.6 cm) of rain over the Florida peninsula on Thursday, adding up to a total of 20 to 25 inches of rainfall in parts of South Florida.

“Localized bands of heavy rainfall will continue to impact portions of the Florida Peninsula today, resulting in isolated flash and urban flooding, especially across previously inundated areas,” the NHC said.

(Reporting by Gabriella Borter; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

Storm Julia dumping heavy rains on Georgia and South Carolina coasts

Tropical Storm Julia and other storms lined up in the Atlantic

(Reuters) – Tropical Storm Julia dumped heavy rains along coastal Georgia and South Carolina on Wednesday, weakening as it drifted north along the U.S. Southeast coast, the National Hurricane Center said.

The storm, centered around southeastern Georgia, had gusting winds as strong as 40 mph (65 kph). Heavy rain and high tides threatened low-lying coastal areas prone to flooding, such as parts of Charleston, South Carolina, forecasters said.

“It’s weakening, but it will still continue to produce heavy rain and that is the main hazard that we are concerned with,” said Bob Bright, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Charleston.

Julia, the 10th named storm of the 2016 Atlantic hurricane season, is expected to weaken to a tropical depression on Wednesday as it moved north at 7 mph, the Miami-based hurricane center said.

At 8 a.m. (1200 GMT), Julia was about 10 miles (16 km) west of Brunswick, Georgia, the hurricane center said.

Northeast Florida felt the storm’s strong blasts and bands of rain after it came ashore late on Tuesday around Cape Canaveral, forecasters said.

The National Weather Service in Jacksonville, Florida, whose coverage area includes southeastern Georgia, had received reports of toppled trees, but not significant structural damage on Wednesday morning, meteorologist Scott Cordero said.

“We had some pretty good winds associated with it,” he said. “She is starting to lose her tropical characteristics, as she is remaining mainly landlocked.”

(Reporting by Letitia Stein in Tampa, Fla., Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee, and Swati Verma in Bengaluru; Editing by Andrew Heavens and James Dalgleish)

Unusual Weather Event in the Western Atlantic

It has been 101 years since this last happened.  And it is “blowing the minds” of meteorologists. Eric Blake, a hurricane specialist at the National Hurricane Center (NHC), commented on the lack of hurricanes west of 55 degrees longitude in the Atlantic basin so far this season. Blake said this marks the first time there have been no western Atlantic hurricanes through Sept. 22 since 1914.

At the anniversary of Hurricane Rita in 2005 the compared numbers from 10 years ago is astounding. In that year there were 31 Tropical Systems, 27 named storms and 15 hurricanes. While 2015 has had several named storms, there have been no hurricanes this year at all!  

Two factors working against hurricane development, wind shear and dry air, have been quite prevalent from the Gulf of Mexico into much of the Caribbean all summer long.

Hurricanes thrive off of rich, tropical moisture evaporating into the air from warm ocean water and cannot feed off of the dryer air.  Wind shear, or the change of wind direction and speed with height, creates a hostile environment for tropical systems, as it too disrupts the ability of clouds and thunderstorms to organize in a way that supports the formation or continuation of a hurricane.

El Niño can be partially to blame. This setup features warming of the Pacific Ocean and is generally associated with unfavorable wind patterns across the western Atlantic.

Meanwhile in the Pacific Ocean warm and active atmospheric moisture has also been well above average in that area. The result has been nine hurricanes in the eastern Pacific, but zero in the adjacent western Atlantic.

With El Niño continuing and no signs of any major changes, the western Atlantic hurricane drought may continue for a while.

Tropical Storm Erika Forms in Atlantic

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) has confirmed the presence of a new named storm in the Atlantic Ocean.

Tropical Storm Erika has sustained winds of 45 m.p.h. and as of noon eastern time was about 700 miles east of the Leeward Islands with a westward path at 20 m.p.h.

A tropical storm watch has been posted throughout the region for islands that are in desperate need of rain because of a sustained drought.  However, the storm is expected to continue to gain strength and reach hurricane status.

Forecast models are showing extremely different paths for the storm, from dissipating before making significant landfall to becoming a huge Category 4 storm that would strike South Carolina.

Erika is the fifth named storm in the Atlantic during the 2015 storm season.  Danny was the only storm to reach hurricane status, peaking as a Category 3 storm.  Danny dissipated on Monday because of a dry air mass moving across the region.

The NHC said the Air Force’s Hurricane Hunters are going to make a mass through the storm and provide feedback on the storm’s intensity.