Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

As Season Officially Begins, a Cold Front

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

As Season Officially Begins, a Cold Front

Article excerpt

2012 HURRICANE SEASON

WEATHER WATCH: The fluke conditions that spawned 2 early storms have dissipated

The six-month hurricane season officially begins today with two tropical storms already checked off the alphabetical list of names - - a rarity not seen since 1908, before naming even began.

But the fluke weather conditions allowing those storms to form are gone, likely signaling more typical tropical activity for the next few weeks.

Average arrival of the Atlantic's first tropical storm is July 9, underscoring June's status as a generally slow month for storms.

Instead of tropical weather, a cold front is forecast to sweep across the Mid-Atlantic states today, bringing the possibility of a different type of severe weather there: strong thunderstorms and tornados.

As the front moves east, it will drag warm air from the tropics in its wake, bringing increased rain chances across Florida. Rain today through early Saturday could exceed an inch in areas south of Tampa Bay, according to the National Weather Service.

Tropical Storms Alberto and Beryl -- the two storms that formed in late May -- developed from thunderstorms associated with similar cold fronts. But another tropical storm now is unlikely, forecasters said.

One major ingredient is missing: low wind shear.

Wind shear -- a change in wind speed or direction with altitude - - prevents tropical systems from circulating and reaching the upper atmosphere. And wind shear is currently too powerful to allow a tropical system to spin up.

However, if it relaxes when thunderstorms are building over warm waters, a new storm could arise.

"You can have these low pressure areas that move off the Carolina coast all year long. If they happen to move off with low shear and warm water, they can intensify," said Phil Klotzbach, a seasonal forecaster and with Colorado State University's Tropical Meteorology project.

When Alberto and Beryl formed, thunderstorms left over by the frontal systems stalled over the warm Gulf Stream current. Moisture, warm seas and brief periods of low windshear let the storms grow and circulate around a warm core -- ingredients needed for tropical storms to form.

Alberto stayed at sea. Beryl came ashore near Jacksonville as an intense tropical storm with 70 mph winds, just 4 mph shy of hurricane strength. …

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