Bubil: A quiet season on the keys



Best quote collected at the Governor's Hurricane Conference, which ended Friday here.

"If where you live ends in the word key, you probably need to go somewhere else." The quotesmith behind that statement is Bryan Koon, director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, as we spoke on Wednesday.

This year, though, living on a key might not matter much, according to the new king of hurricane season predictors, Phil Klotzbach of Colorado State University's Tropical Meteorology Project.

Klotzbach has taken over writing CSU's tropical storm predictions from Dr. Bill Gray, who is now concentrating on climate change (he says that even if the climate is changing, man has had very little to do with it).

At this conference, Klotzbach reiterated his prediction at the National Hurricane Conference that this will be a relatively quiet hurricane season, with seven named tropical storms, three hurricanes and one major hurricane.

If a hurricane doesn't hit Florida, that will make 10 consecutive seasons without a hurricane strike in the Sunshine State.

Klotzbach explained why the season will see below-normal hurricane activity.

"The primary reason," Klotzbach said, "is we think we are going to see a strong El Ninõ this year -- warmer than normal water in the central and eastern tropical Pacific. That increases upper-level westerly winds in the Atlantic, which tears apart the storms as they are trying to develop.

"It really knocks down storm activity, especially in the Caribbean, and late-season activity."

Westerly winds are west to east at the upper levels. Lower-level winds come out of the east, Klotzbach said, "so you have shear. It tears it apart.

"Also, the Atlantic is cold, colder than normal. That means less fuel and moisture" for tropical storms.

Klotzbach also had an explanation for the recent phenomenon of hurricanes mostly curving away from the eastern seaboard.

"Low pressure along the east coast has been the predominant pattern," he said. "It has caused these storms, as they move from east to west across the basin, to gain latitude and curve out to sea before they can hit the coast.

"We have been really fortunate: Since 2005, we have had 25 major hurricanes in the Atlantic, and zero major hurricane landfalls. On average, it is about 30 percent."

Here's the real estate angle: Before you neglect to refresh your hurricane supply kit and pile more boxes in front of your storm shutters, listen to the meteorologists, who are quick to point out that 1992's devastating Hurricane Andrew hit Florida in an otherwise quiet storm season.

"It only takes one," said Dennis Feltgen, spokesman for the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

Harold Bubil

Recipient of the 2015 Bob Graham Architectural Awareness Award from the American Institute of Architects/Florida-Caribbean, Harold Bubil is real estate editor of the Herald-Tribune Media Group. Born in Newport, R.I., his family moved to Sarasota in 1958. Harold graduated from Sarasota High School in 1970 and the University of Florida in 1974 with a degree in journalism. For the Herald-Tribune, he writes and edits stories about residential real estate, architecture, green building and local development history. He also is a photographer and public speaker. Contact him via email, or at (941) 361-4805.
Last modified: May 18, 2015
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