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Current Hurricane Activity Raises Questions About The AMO – What Is It And Why Is it Relevant?

Have you taken a look at satellite view of the tropics right now? Hurricane Humberto, a major hurricane, threatens Bermuda. The remnants of Tropical Storm Imelda are drenching Southeast Texas, and several potential systems lurk in tropical regions that we look to at this time of the year. National Hurricane Center tropical meteorologist Eric Blake captures it best in this Tweet:

Anyone want a tropical storm? They are forming like roaches out there! 6 at once in both basins combined is thought to tie a modern NHC record , with two other disturbances adding the cherries on top of a crazy busy day!

Eric Blake, National Hurricane Center on Twitter

The hurricane basins of the Eastern Pacific and Atlantic are very active as seen in the picture below that I took at The Weather Channel early Wednesday morning. While likely not at the forefront of your thought processes this week, this active week prompted me to wonder about the status of something called the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO). What is it and why am I bringing it up during hurricane season?

According to the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) website, the AMO is:

a coherent mode of natural variability occurring in the North Atlantic Ocean with an estimated period of 60-80 years. It is based upon the average anomalies of sea surface temperatures (SST) in the North Atlantic basin, typically over 0-80N.

Kevin Trenberth, Rong Zhang, and NCAR Staff: The Climate Data Guide: Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation (AMO)

The AMO has been at the center of many of the discussions about whether hurricane activity changes naturally or is being affected by climate change. I remember a particularly vigorous debate about these topics after the anomalously active 2005 hurricane season that gave us Hurricane Katrina and a series of storms taking on “Greek-letter names.” I haven’t heard as much about it recently, but it is still a “thing.” I often found the AMO-natural variability or anthropogenic climate change debate to be silly. I continue to be baffled by why these things are framed as “either/or” rather than “and.” The current scientific literature suggests the climate change signal on hurricanes will likely be apparent in intensity, forward motion, and surge inundation. The outstanding NOAA GFDL page on hurricanes and climate change points out that there is less conclusiveness on frequency. However, natural climate variability like the AMS is certainly in the mix. A 2017 study in Nature Scientific Reports argues that a negative AMO is emerging in spite of a warm subtropical region. A negative or cool phase is typically associated with fewer Atlantic hurricanes (graphic below).

I reached out to tropical expert Dr. Phil Klotzbach to get his latest thoughts on the AMO, and how this all aligns with what he is seeing in recent years. His group at Colorado State University issues seasonal hurricane forecasts. In their August update, they called for a “near normal” season in terms of activity.

I posed the question to Dr. Klotzbach, “So what’s going on with the AMO right now?” His answer:

That’s the million dollar question. The winters have looked like a very negative AMO with a cold SST tripole. But those cold anomalies have been much weaker in the summer when the far North Atlantic has a much shallower mixed layer.

Dr. Phil Klotzbach, CSU Tropical Meteorology Project

Dr. Klotzbach also told me that when he examined sea surface temperature differences (SSTs) from 2014-2019 minus 1995-2012 averaged over the period August to October (excluding 2019), the far North Atlantic remains colder but the tropical Atlantic SSTs haven’t shown much change. Klotzbach goes on to say:

There has been quite a bit of discussion about a weakening of the Atlantic Meriodional Ocean Circulation (AMOC) in the literature – including a couple of high profile papers published in Nature. The cold SST in the far North Atlantic bares that point out. However, the connection between the polar regions and the tropical regions doesn’t seem to be there during the summer months. Normally a cold far North Atlantic drives a stronger subtropical which drives stronger trade winds that then anomalously cool the tropical Atlantic. This has certainly been the case in the winter months, but the relationship has broken down in the summer

Dr. Phil Klotzbach, CSU Tropical Meteorology Project

I am providing links to 2017 and 2019 studies, respectively, in the Nature Climate Change.

Ultimately, September is a climatologically-active month so there is nothing unusual about seeing tropical waves, depressions, storms and hurricanes at this time of year. Eric Blake’s tweet just inspired me to revisit what people are thinking about the AMO since it was such a hot topic after the 2005 hurricane season.

Follow me on Twitter. Check out my website.

Dr. J. Marshall Shepherd, a leading international expert in weather and climate, was the 2013 President of American Meteorological Society (AMS) and is Director of the University of Georgia’s (UGA) Atmospheric Sciences Program. Dr. Shepherd is the Georgia Athletic Association Distinguished Professor and hosts The Weather Channel’s Weather Geeks Podcast, which can be found at all podcast outlets. Prior to UGA, Dr. Shepherd spent 12 years as a Research Meteorologist at NASA-Goddard Space Flight Center and was Deputy Project Scientist for the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission. In 2004, he was honored at the White House with a prestigious PECASE award. He also has received major honors from the American Meteorological Society, American Association of Geographers, and the Captain Planet Foundation. Shepherd is frequently sought as an expert on weather and climate by major media outlets, the White House, and Congress. He has over 80 peer-reviewed scholarly publications and numerous editorials. Dr. Shepherd received his B.S., M.S. and PhD in physical meteorology from Florida State University.

Source: Current Hurricane Activity Raises Questions About The AMO – What Is It And Why Is it Relevant?

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On Dorian-Battered Island, What’s Left? Virtually Nothing

MARSH HARBOUR, Bahamas — No schools. No banks. No gas stations. No supermarkets. No restaurants. No churches. No pharmacies. No hardware stores. No water, no electricity and no phone lines.

In this part of the Bahamas, nearly everything is gone.

Hurricane Dorian didn’t just upend life in Marsh Harbour, the biggest town in the Abaco Islands. Dorian crushed it, stripping all essentials, schedules and routines — everything residents and visitors had taken for granted.

And there’s no sense when those things might be restored.

Five days after the storm struck the northern end of the Bahamas, the total death toll remains unknown, but fears abound that it will be far higher than the 43 confirmed as of Friday. Many people were still missing. By some estimates Dorian did at least $7 billion in damage.

Tens of thousands of traumatized survivors, with nothing but wreckage encircling them and no way to communicate, do not even know where to begin. In the Abacos, they simply had to start by leaving.

“This ain’t no place for anyone at the moment,” said Durana Francis, 35, a cook who, like most other residents, was trying to flee.

[The storm in photos: Devastation, fear and relief.]

The storm’s blast across the Abacos on Sunday damaged the vast majority of structures, erased entire neighborhoods and effectively rendered many residents homeless.

Hundreds of people swarmed Marsh Harbour’s wharf at the port on Friday after having heard rumors that ferry boats would arrive to evacuate people. Many others thronged the airport terminal, hoping to land a seat on private flights, which began arriving on Thursday after floodwaters had receded from the tarmac. As of Friday, commercial service in Marsh Harbour had not resumed, residents said.

Renaldo Bowleg, 37, who worked as a charter boat captain before the storm, passed by Marsh Harbour’s wharf after hearing about a possible humanitarian ferry to Nassau, capital of the Bahamas. He had his two pit bulls and was hoping to secure space for the three of them.

“I was going to stay and volunteer, but it doesn’t make sense,” he said. “I just feel it best to be closer to extraction points right now. People are becoming more desperate now.”

Mr. Bowleg was carrying an unlit cigar, a gift from a police officer he had encountered in the street a couple of days after the storm. Mr. Bowleg wasn’t a smoker but said the occasion would make him one.

McLean’s Town on Grand Bahama Island on Friday.
CreditMeridith Kohut for The New York Times

“If I get on a boat I’m going to light this,” he said. “I’m going to enjoy it on my ride back to Nassau.”

The larger and more populated Grand Bahama Island also took a direct hit from Dorian, leaving some areas destroyed and survivors stupefied. Surrounded by wreckage, many wondered how they could meet their most basic needs.

In Lady Lake, a ravaged neighborhood near Freeport, Grand Bahama’s largest city, the yard of Nicole Sweeting-Bain’s gutted, one-story home was littered with the shredded remnants of what had been inside. A large Bahamanian flag was the only recognizable object. Whether to salvage and rebuild was the last thing on her mind.

“I don’t even care about the house,” she said, scrambling through the rubble in an attempt to find anything still intact. “My kids don’t have underwear.”

Her brother, Sean, 51, who shared the house, said there was no option but to relocate. “Home is home,” he said, “but in this particular area, I don’t think so.”

Other Dorian victims, in Grand Bahama, said they would rebuild.

O’Neil Wildgoose, 43, said he, his wife and their dog spent two days on the roof of their home in Freeport’s Lincoln Green neighborhood, ravaged by a 12-foot storm surge that “came like a tsunami.”

“I watched every piece of my furniture float through the back door,” Mr. Wildgoose said. But he insisted he would not leave Grand Bahama, where he has lived since birth. “We have to be resilient. We can’t give up.”

In the Abacos, no area seemed to have been hit as ferociously as Marsh Harbour. It was as if someone had lifted up the entire town and dropped it.

Houses smashed to bits. Commercial buildings split open as if with a sledgehammer, their contents splayed on the sidewalk. Boats and cars tossed here and there like toys.

Some residents shared the food and water they had stockpiled, while others took whatever they could from wrecked food shops, offices and pharmacies.

Waiting for evacuation by a boat in Marsh Harbour.
CreditDaniele Volpe for The New York Times

Hundreds of people, many from destroyed shantytowns that had been mostly populated by Haitian immigrants, fled to the main government complex in Marsh Harbour and took up residence in its damaged offices.

Maxine Duncombe, the administrator of the central Abaco district, said the government had admonished residents, particularly in low-lying areas, to evacuate to proper shelters before the storm. Officials had even gone door to door, broadcasting their warnings.

“We thought people would heed the warnings,” Ms. Duncombe said Friday at the government complex.

The first refugees started arriving at the complex as the hurricane’s eye passed over Marsh Harbour. “We saw this multitude and my first instinct was to save lives,” Ms. Duncombe said. “I pushed them into every office.”

At their peak, nearly 2,000 people were sleeping in the building’s courtyard, along its colonnaded balcony and walkways, and in its administrative offices. They dried their wet clothes on the branches of bushes in and around the building, and children played on the trunk of a palm tree felled in the storm.

Their numbers had ebbed considerably by Friday as they found other sanctuaries, or a way off the island.

Ebony Thomas and Phil Thomas Sr. cleaned the floors of their home in McLean’s Town. Four members of their family are missing.
CreditMeridith Kohut for The New York Times

Andrew MacCalla, vice president of emergency response at Direct Relief, a humanitarian aid organization that was flying pallets of medical supplies to the Bahamas, said the evacuation was not a choice. He likened it to Hurricane Irma, which wiped out several Caribbean islands in 2017, including Barbuda where all 3,000 people had to be evacuated.

“There wasn’t anything there, no housing, no structure, no clean water,” he said of Barbuda. This is not a quick rebuild. In the short term, it’s moving them off.”

A post-apocalyptic sense of despair claws at Marsh Harbour. There are no public utilities, and no reliable sources of food or drinking water. Gasoline supplies are dwindling and are a black-market trade now — for those fortunate enough to have a functioning vehicle.

Only one of the Abacos’ two cellphone companies has restored partial service in Marsh Harbour, but the regular phone lines remain down, leaving most people without a way to make calls.

Verifiable information of any sort was in short supply, so people fell back on rumors.

Kenson Jean Louis, 25, a roofing company worker, was at the wharf, hoping to get on a rumored ferry. But the storm left him without identification papers, credit cards or other documentation, and he worried he would be unable to travel.

What little remains of the Mudd neighborhood of Marsh Harbour.
CreditDaniele Volpe for The New York Times

The first step for recovering lost documents was to file a police report, he said, but the police department had been seriously damaged and there was nobody to file a report with.

Mr. Louis said he viewed the hurricane as a test of human will.

“This is what we made of,” he said. “We are men.”

Government emergency officials have been scarce, if not invisible, to residents, angering many.

“The government has to do better,” said Ms. Francis, 35, who was waiting at the wharf with her two sons, 4 and 7, and her boyfriend. The only belongings they salvaged from their destroyed home fit in a black duffel bag and small backpack at their feet.

“They need boats,” she said. “They need to bring all them things in here.”

At the government center, Keven Pierre, 34, was charging his cellphone off a generator, one of the few available to the public in Marsh Harbour, and plotting his next move. He was trying to figure out a way to get himself and nine family members off Abaco Island. He had heard about the commercial flights on Bahamas Air leaving from Treasure Cay, but was angered at the idea that the airline might charge for the seats. (The airline said Friday that “all persons wishing to leave Abaco will be provided passage free of charge.”)

Without banks and ATMs in operation, many residents were left without cash.

At the Marsh Harbour airport, where part of the tarmac was still underwater, Lakeria Simms, 29, and her husband, David Gardiner, 31, and their three young children, had joined hundreds of others seeking a seat on a plane.

The hurricane, Ms. Simms said, had “put everybody on square zero.”

Her family had started the day at the wharf, arriving at 5 a.m. in pursuit of the rumored ferry. Late in the morning they took their chances at the airport. But they had little accurate information, and found themselves amid a cluster of storm refugees stuck outside the entrance. The police prevented them from entering.

“Sit and wait,” Mr. Gardiner said, describing their plans. “And hope.”

Reporting was contributed by Rachel Knowles from Grand Bahama Island, Frances Robles from Miami, Elisabeth Malkin and Azam Ahmed from Mexico City, and Rick Gladstone from New York.

By

Source: On Dorian-Battered Island, What’s Left? Virtually Nothing

Powerful hurricane lashes the Bahamas with some of the strongest winds they’ve ever seen; Ellison Barber reports from Juno Beach, Florida. #FoxNews FOX News operates the FOX News Channel (FNC), FOX Business Network (FBN), FOX News Radio, FOX News Headlines 24/7, FOXNews.com and the direct-to-consumer streaming service, FOX Nation. FOX News also produces FOX News Sunday on FOX Broadcasting Company and FOX News Edge. A top five-cable network, FNC has been the most watched news channel in the country for 17 consecutive years. According to a 2018 Research Intelligencer study by Brand Keys, FOX News ranks as the second most trusted television brand in the country. Additionally, a Suffolk University/USA Today survey states Fox News is the most trusted source for television news or commentary in the country, while a 2017 Gallup/Knight Foundation survey found that among Americans who could name an objective news source, FOX News is the top-cited outlet. FNC is available in nearly 90 million homes and dominates the cable news landscape while routinely notching the top ten programs in the genre. Subscribe to Fox News! https://bit.ly/2vBUvAS Watch more Fox News Video: http://video.foxnews.com Watch Fox News Channel Live: http://www.foxnewsgo.com/ Watch full episodes of your favorite shows The Five: http://video.foxnews.com/playlist/lon… Special Report with Bret Baier: http://video.foxnews.com/playlist/lon… The Story with Martha Maccallum: http://video.foxnews.com/playlist/lon… Tucker Carlson Tonight: http://video.foxnews.com/playlist/lon… Hannity: http://video.foxnews.com/playlist/lon… The Ingraham Angle: http://video.foxnews.com/playlist/lon… Fox News @ Night: http://video.foxnews.com/playlist/lon… Follow Fox News on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FoxNews/ Follow Fox News on Twitter: https://twitter.com/FoxNews/ Follow Fox News on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/foxnews/

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