How many hurricanes will form this summer? The government has a forecast

 

The Atlantic hurricane season starts June 1 and you can expect between five to nine hurricanes to form, which is a little above the average according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Forecasters with NOAA, which just released its official hurricane forecast, “predict a 70 percent likelihood of 11 to 17 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 5 to 9 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 2 to 4 major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of 111 mph or higher),” according to a statement posted on the NOAA web site.

The forecast includes Tropical Storm Arlene, which formed unusually early in April.

The average hurricane season has 12 named storms, six of which become hurricanes, and three of which become major ones. The 2016 season was the most active since 2012, which had 15 named storms, including 7 hurricanes and 4 major ones.

Hurricanes can devastate the Gulf region, as Katrina, Rita and Ike did in years past, but they tend not to hit Central Texas in the same way. Here, the worry tends to be storms that spin off the periphery of hurricanes. Those storms can, in turn, lead to high winds, tornadoes and heavy rainfall that causes the top weather risk in the region: flooding.

The hurricane forecast calls for a 45 percent chance of an above-normal season, a 35 percent chance of a near-normal season, and only a 20 percent chance of a below-normal season.

“The outlook reflects our expectation of a weak or non-existent El Niño, near- or above-average sea-surface temperatures across the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, and average or weaker-than-average vertical wind shear in that same region,” Gerry Bell, lead seasonal hurricane forecaster with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, said in the statement.

As to one of the key questions – whether a hurricane will devastate any coastal communities – the forecast is silent. After all, as a wise man once said, predictions are difficult, especially about the future.

 

Watch a funnel cloud over Lake Travis fling debris

Severe storms ripped through Central Texas Sunday, leaving uprooted trees and roof damage in their wake.

Matt Comer, a Spicewood resident, captured a video of a funnel cloud formation over Lake Travis on Sunday. In the video, the circulation of air glides across the water and demonstrates its full power around the 30-second mark, when a piece of the roof of a boat dock appears to lift away and fall into the lake.

READ MORE: Lake Travis area receives brunt of storm, including suspected tornado

Point Venture, a resort town along Lake Travis, took an especially hard hit from the storm. Photos from the area show parts of the roof of the Gnarly Gar restaurant torn away from the wind, trees uprooted, windows broken and a large portion of a woman’s roof completely removed.

High wind whipped rain across the area and shook trees, while some Williamson County residents reported seeing small hail. Portions of northwest Travis County and southern Williamson County were under a tornado warning for a part of the morning.

 

https://twitter.com/sfelder2/status/848550627319967751

Storm damage prompted the popular lakeside restaurant The Oasis to shut down for the day.

PHOTOS: Heavy rain, strong winds leave Central Texas soaked, April 2, 2017

Insurer asks: How do Austin metro counties rank among stormiest in Texas?

Insurer asks: How do Austin metro counties rank among stormiest in Texas?

Central Texas took another beating from severe weather this past weekend, especially the Lake Travis area in western Travis County that saw what appeared to be a funnel cloud forming over the lake.

RELATED: Lake Travis receives brunt of Sunday storms

According to Travis County sheriff’s officials and neighbors, a tornado hit the Village of Point Venture on Lake Travis, tearing 50-year-old trees out of the ground in a nearby park and damaging property, including a golf course and restaurant. Fortunately, no injuries were reported.

Only a few days earlier, a line of strong thunderstorms pelted Central Texas, producing widespread rainfall amounts of an inch to 1.5 inches.

The insurance company Allstate recently analyzed its own property-claims data and compiled a list of the 25 stormiest counties in Texas. The insurer identified its customer areas with highest frequencies of wind and hail, and lightning-related homeowner property damage claims from 2012 through 2016.

Among those Allstate customers reporting the highest frequency of wind and hail claims, Travis County ranked 15th out of the top 25; Hays County came in 17th; and Williamson was 23rd. Waco’s McLennan County was tucked in between Travis and Hays at 16th.

Allstate also looked at customers reporting the highest frequency of lightning claims and Williamson made the top 10 at 9th place; Hays ranked 11th; and Travis was 19th. Brazoria County on the Gulf Coast was in between Williamson and Hays at 10th.

 

Here’s the complete list of highest frequency of wind and hail claims:

1. Collin
2. Bexar
3. Hidalgo
4. Randall
5. Bell
6. Dallas
7. Tarrant
8. Denton
9. El Paso
10. Webb
11. Ellis
12. Kaufman
13. Johnson
14. Lubbock
15. Travis
16. McLennan
17. Hays
18. Montgomery
19. Harris
20. Parker
21. Fort Bend
22. Smith
23. Williamson
24. Midland
25. Brazoria

Here’s the complete list of highest frequency of lightning claims:
1. Smith
2. Montgomery
3. Jefferson
4. Kaufman
5. Parker
6. McLennan
7. Ellis
8. Johnson
9. Williamson
10. Brazoria
11. Hays
12. Denton
13. Harris
14. Fort Bend
15. Lubbock
16. Bell
17. Collin
18. Tarrant
19. Travis
20. Bexar
21. Galveston
22. Dallas
23. Webb
24. Hidalgo
25. Cameron

 

2 more tornadoes confirmed in Austin area in late Sunday storms, National Weather Service says

Norma Prieto's house on 12300 block of Mustang Mesa Drive was badly damaged by a storm on the night of Feb. 19, 2017. (RESHMA KIRPALANI / AMERICAN-STATESMAN)
Norma Prieto’s house on 12300 block of Mustang Mesa Drive in southern Travis County was badly damaged by a storm on the night of Feb. 19, 2017. (RESHMA KIRPALANI / AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

Chalk up two more twisters for a total of four in the Austin area during Sunday night’s storms, the National Weather Service said Wednesday in a preliminary report.

In addition to the two tornadoes that ravaged southeastern Williamson County overnight Sunday into Monday, the weather service has confirmed two more funnel clouds that touched down in Hays County: one near San Marcos and Kyle and one near Niederwald and Mustang Ridge in Travis County.

The weather service’s survey team determined that the San Marcos tornado originated at 11:26 p.m. Sunday at the intersection of Ranch Road 12 and Hugo Road before heading northeast, covering just under 10 miles in about 10 minutes.

Meteorologists think the twister’s peak wind speed was 100 mph, qualifying it as an EF-1 tornado, which have winds of 86 to 110 mph.

“The tornado path crossed the Blanco River before ending near the Kyle Cemetery on Old Stagecoach Road,” the weather service said. From there, “damage became much less significant and sporadic moving east toward I-35.”

The survey team found trees snapped in two and a small business with structural damage. Trees were damaged in a neighborhood along Thousand Oaks Loop, including one that was uprooted and had fallen on a vehicle.

A second tornado in Hays County originated at 11:48 p.m. Sunday, northwest of Niederwald, before heading northeast and traveling about 3 miles in about 3 minutes toward Mustang Ridge on the other side of the Travis County line.

Meteorologists think the twister’s peak wind speed was 85 mph, making it only an EF-0 tornado, which have winds between 65 and 85 mph.

The survey team observed “a destroyed aluminum barn structure, car port damage, and a few trees with large limbs snapped,” the weather service said. “Multiple mobile homes had significant roof damage consistent with EF-0 speeds.”

RELATED: Williamson County hit by 2 tornadoes

The American-Statesman’s Claire Osborn documented how two twisters in Williamson County tore through areas near Thrall and Noack, peeling roofs off homes, blowing over train cars, smashing grain bins, flipping RVs and ripping away part of a church, officials said Tuesday.

One home was destroyed and 32 others were damaged, said Connie Watson, a county spokeswoman. Twelve outbuildings, such as sheds and barns, also were destroyed and 18 others were damaged, she said. No serious injuries were reported.

A damage estimate from the county is pending.

In Austin, the city’s recycling agency says it is accepting service requests through March 5 to pick up storm debris.

Austin Resource Recovery is asking residents that have large brush or bulk items that need to be collected to place them at the curb first, and then call 3-1-1 to request a pickup. Collection may take up to 7 business days, the agency said.

10 scenes out of last night’s Central Texas storm that kept you awake

A Union Pacific train derailed early Monday morning February 20, 2017 on Texas Highway 79 North of Thrall, TX. Severe thunderstorms and high winds may have caused the multiple cars to derail. Railroad crews will be on the scene throughout the day to remove the damaged cars. The remaining train was cleared and continued northward. RALPH BARRERA/AMERICAN-STATESMAN
A Union Pacific train derailed early Monday morning February 20, 2017 on Texas Highway 79 North of Thrall, TX. Severe thunderstorms and high winds may have caused the multiple cars to derail. Railroad crews will be on the scene throughout the day to remove the damaged cars. The remaining train was cleared and continued northward. RALPH BARRERA/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

If you managed to sleep through last night’s thunder, you might have been surprised to wake up to a drenched, wind-beaten Austin. Wind gusts from last night’s storms clocked in at 60-70 mph, had Williamson County on tornado watch and caused property damage throughout the area. Additionally, it derailed a train in Thrall.

View this post on Instagram

Texas rain is neat

A post shared by Drew Chrisner (@drewmanji) on

PHOTOS: Storms cause damage across Central Texas

Here’s a look at some of the damage in Austin and the surrounding area after last night’s storms:

Keep up with weather developments as they happen here.

Mark your calendars: May is the month of severe weather in Central Texas

Courtesy National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Courtesy National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

The last year was a weird one for weather. Epic drought gave way to deadly floods a year ago, which gave way to a mini-drought and then again to floods, and then to one of the driest starts to a year and now an unusually wet period.

Now we’re in the month with the most severe weather. So it’s no coincidence that the latest forecast calls for severe storms in the Hill Country late Tuesday.

May has been the month that brings the most tornadoes, hail and severe thunderstorms, according to data provided by Paul Yura and his crew at the San Antonio-Austin branch of the National Weather Service. It’s not even close:

Tornado Climo by month

Wind Climo by month

Hail Climo by month

The threat posed by tornadoes and high winds pale in comparison in Central Texas to that of flooding. Still, tornadoes have occasionally struck with devastating effect, such as on May 27, 1997, when a tornado tore Jarrell apart, leaving 27 people dead.

And, contrary to conventional wisdom, they actually might hit the same place twice.

“The belief that a tornado will never hit the same place twice is totally wrong,” said Brent McRoberts, a postdoctoral research associate in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at Texas A&M University  “There are numerous cases of a city or town being hit several times. Proof of this is the small town of Codell, Kansas.  It was hit by a tornado on the same day for 3 straight years – On May 20 of 1916, 1917 and 1918.  The 1916 tornado is believed to have been a fairly strong one, but the worst was the 1918 storm that we now think was probably an F-4 with winds of at least 150 miles per hour and it destroyed most of the town. Although some of the buildings were eventually rebuilt, the town never fully recovered from the 1918 tornado.”

This has been an unusually wet spring, partly because of the El Niño swirling in the Pacific. Each month has seemingly brought warnings of look out for severe weather, particularly thunderstorms.

definition

Despite the Jarrell tornado, May actually does not produce the most severe tornadoes in Central Texas, said Troy Kimmel, a forecaster and instructor at the University of Texas. April tends to produce

Where do tornadoes come from? Science apparently doesn’t have a complete answer. Warm, moist low air from the Gulf sweeps west, hitting high dry air from the Rocky Mountains. Storms form. This video from Scientific American does a good job of explaining the leading hypothesis about what happens from there.

So why do certain cities, such as Oklahoma City, which has been hit more than 140 times since the 1890s, get nailed more often?

“There seems to be no explanation,” McRoberts said, “other than Oklahoma City is smack in the middle of Tornado Alley, and conditions in and around the town are perfect for tornado formation during the spring months. Dallas-Fort Worth, Wichita Falls, Kansas City, Tulsa, Lincoln and Omaha are just some of the cities that have been multiple times through the years by tornadoes.”