Planet Earth

Moving Into August...

The IntersectionBy Chris MooneyAug 1, 2006 11:15 PM

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I am not a forecaster. In fact, the forecasters will be putting out their August outlooks during the next couple of days, and I'll report what they say here. But in the meantime, with Tropical Storm Chris in the Caribbean, let's look at some statistics that will help set whatever happens this month in context. As everyone remembers, July 2005 was an extremely busy month in the North Atlantic by historical standards. We had a Category 5 storm, for Christ's sakes, in Emily (PDF); and Dennis hit the U.S. as a Category 3 (PDF). Before August had even begun, we had seen 7 total storms and were up to the letter H already. Whether or not you want to speculate about global warming, by historical standards all of this was very unusual. This year has been much calmer by comparison, but that hardly means we've dodged any sort of bullet. If you look at the incredibly devastating hurricane season of 2004, for example, the first storm (Alex) didn't actually form until July 31--just like Tropical Storm Chris this year. In terms of the total number of storms, then, we are currently outpacing 2004. The upshot: Nobody expects this year to be like 2005. But we could still be in for a bad, bad year...

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