Cool Water is to Hurricanes Like An Omega is to Arctic Outbreaks

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This is the time of year, and I remember it somewhat well, when all things for teenagers point to final exams. And final exams typically mean a morning (or an afternoon) with the dreaded word problems. Early in my schooling, with math not being a favorite subject, I looked forward to the word problems (“If a train leaves New York City at 11 AM and travels east for six hours, how long will it take…”). I soon realized however, it was a trick. Everything, it seems, circles back to math.

It didn't take me long to figure out there word problems were cleverly designed math problems.

It didn’t take me long to learn that word problems were cleverly designed math problems, yet meteorology became my career.

As does meteorology. The movement through time of displaced cool water and a stagnate upper level flow can only be calculated with math. “If cool water can weaken a hurricane or prohibit its development, then how could an omega block in the Pacific can enhance winter outbreaks in the eastern U.S.?” is not likely a word problem that would be found on a high school exam, but it’s still a question that needs an answer. The two, cool water and the omega, have affected (and will effect) the weather locally, nationally and globally.

The Pacific Omega block (link) was a direct influence on the Polar Vortex and the especially cold and never-ending winter of 2013-14. It seemed from Halloween to April Fools’ day, the eastern half of the country was mumbling either “It’s too early for this type of cold!” or “When will winter finally end?” (or perhaps both!). The same upper flow that supported the Omega block, also allowed high pressure, central to the Atlantic Basin, to push cooler water southward throughout the eastern Atlantic into the formative zones for tropical storms.

Cooler water in Atlantic tropical zones is good news if you’re a fan of fewer tropical storms. I wrote here (link) a couple of weeks ago how the hurricane season is fast sneaking up on us—and that remains true today. Yet cooler waters ushered southward shouldn’t suggest a drop in your tropical vigilance. Nor should a developing El Niño—which looks likely later this season. Like cool water in tropical regions, an El Niño event, at least a moderate to strong one, can also tend to suppress development of Atlantic tropical storms. But again, it’s not that we spend all our time preparing ourselves, our homes and our businesses for a busy tropical season, it’s that we prepare for the one storm that may change our lives—the one that may not happen this year, next year, or perhaps not happen at all. Studies have shown that businesses who take preparedness seriously are up to 22% more profitable following a disaster. What camp are you in? Does a forecast for fewer storms allow you to delay or shortchange your preparedness?

The Keller and Pretty study visualizes the difference in share value between

The Knight and Pretty study (1996) visualizes the difference in shareholder value between effective and ineffective crisis response.

ImpactWeather’s Hurricane Symposium (link), like the Atlantic Hurricane Season, is approaching quickly. If you’d like to learn more about the meteorology of hurricanes or how to best prepare your business for a crisis, then consider attending. Our symposium is for business professionals who have employees, families, homes and a bottom line to protect. We have an impressive list of speakers (link) who will bring you pertinent, timely and useful information that can help you through a hurricane and get your business back on track in the shortest possible time. Learn more and register here.

Your hurricane preps don’t need to be complicated like a word problem (“If Jimmy begins buying additional water in January for the coming hurricane season, how many named storms will there be by July 4th?”), but it still takes thought and consideration…and an early-enough start to get done what you need to get done.

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