There is currently a lot of misinformation (and fear) floating around the Internet about the development of a hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean threatening the Gulf Coast of the United States late next week. While there is a cluster of storms east of the Greater and Lesser Antilles, there isn't any clear sign that the cluster of storms will develop into anything - much less a major hurricane. From the National Hurricane Center (as of 8/19/14, 11:00pm):
In short, the National Hurricane Center is only giving it a 50 percent chance of developing into a tropical depression, much less a hurricane, during the next five days. If you are reading or hearing otherwise from other people - keep your skeptical antennae up. But to keep people informed and aware of potential hazardous weather, a lot of meteorologists try to forecast beyond that five day window. And it isn't easy. There are a lot of things that can and will inhibit or increase the rate of development in the coming days.
Some factors that meteorologists are watching:
- Sea surface temperature
- Low level rotation
- Upper level high pressure
- Wind shear
- Steering winds
Some factors that meteorologists are not watching but that some people insist are worthy of watching:
- The number of bugs in the air this year compared to before Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans
- The number of dry days in a row this year compared to before Hurricane Camille hit Mississippi
- How long between the need to mow the yard this year compared to when Hurricane Andrew hit Florida
Notice that in just 18 hours the track and strength suggested by this one model vary drastically. In one the wind speed at 500mb (18,000 feet) is above 50kts (about 60mph) and in another, the storm doesn't even exist. And again, that is just 18 hours. The latest rendering of the GFS, the 0z for 8/20/14 keep it in the Gulf of Mexico during the same time frame as above, just north of the Yucatan with a 500mb wind of roughly 20kts.
I get it, though.