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9.21.2005

Fast-forming hurricanes puzzle meteorologists

So, what is it that is causing so much consternation? Is it global warming? Is it HAARP? Supposedly, HAARP gives the government control over the upper atmosphere and hurricanes are formed where? In the upper atmosphre. Whether or not global warming is man-made or natural, it is real and it is here. It's just that some people wish to ignore it. And they are very influential people!


The Sun-Sentinel
Posted September 20 2005

This year, hurricanes just aren't acting like they used to.

The major storms are bucking traditional patterns by forming in the western, rather than eastern, Atlantic Ocean. Instead of taunting worried residents for days, they materialize, it seems, overnight.

The trend has baffled scientists and ratcheted up panic levels for South Floridians.

"It's crazy," said Robin Wagner, 45, of Hollywood. "They come so quick. With Katrina, before we knew it, it was on us."

Hurricane Katrina swept through Broward and Miami-Dade counties last month as a Category 1 storm -- a scant two days after developing in the Caribbean. Storms typically come to life in the far eastern Atlantic Ocean, often near Cape Verde, then pinwheel westward for several days, their ultimate course studied with dread speculation by those in its path.

This year's nine hurricanes have formed west of 55 degrees longitude, said meteorologist Jim Lushine of the National Weather Service in Miami-Dade County. Rita, for example, was but a soggy blob hardly worthy of notice on Saturday night. Sunday morning, it was a threat.

A speedy arrival can bedevil nervous homeowners, but overall it's a good thing.

"By forming farther west, they don't have quite the potential for strength as if they came all the way across" the ocean, Lushine said. "It hasn't had enough time to build up."

Hurricanes feed on warm water, but West Atlantic storms don't stick around long enough to be energized by the Caribbean's tepid currents. Like Katrina -- and Rita's expected track -- they can brush by or through Florida as weaklings, then spin into the Gulf of Mexico and bulk up into highly destructive Category 4 or 5 storms.

Why this season's storms are appearing so far west is a matter of speculation for forecasters.

Chris Landsea, a meteorologist with the National Hurricane Center in Miami-Dade, said, "It's not something we predicted, and I'm not sure it's something we can anticipate way in advance."

One comparable year was 1969, Landsea said, when 10 of 12 hurricanes formed west of 55 degrees longitude.

The ingredients needed for a hurricane -- warm water, an unstable atmosphere and lack of wind shear -- have been present in the western, not eastern, Atlantic this year. "Why further west? We don't know," Landsea said. [...]

Still, the appearance of an "instant hurricane" can unnerve homeowners used to having days to prepare.

"It makes people frantic," said Holly Markert, 28, a county employee from Fort Lauderdale. "We need more notice than this."

Besides compressing prep time, pop-up storms mean supplies come up short because stores don't have time to re-stock. More residents in the target zone lack the goods they need to endure floods or power outages.

"All of a sudden, all you've got is a day to prepare," complained Del Dacks, 37, of Fort Lauderdale. Broward emergency manager Tony Carper said: "Anytime you have less time to react and operationally to respond, it's a problem."

Not for Doreen Gargano, 61, who has a home in Fort Lauderdale and a boat in Islamorada.

"Once it's coming, you're moving quickly, you don't have time to think about it," she said. "When you watch it for days and days, I think it's really more nerve-racking."