The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: a book review

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 12:48 PM GMT em 16 de Maio de 2012

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No climate scientist has been subject to more attacks on their science and character than Penn State's Michael Mann, originator of the famed "hockey stick" graph of Earth's temperature history. Dr. Mann has an excellent new book called "The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines" that takes the reader on a fascinating journey to the front lines the high-stakes battles between climate scientists and their detractors. It's a must-read for every serious student of Earth's climate. Along the way, you'll learn about tree rings, the IPCC process, the fossil fuel industry's savvy PR campaigns to discredit climate change science, and get an insider's view of the notorious stolen emails of "climategate."

For those unfamiliar with the "hockey stick", the shape of the graph showing Earth's temperature has a long, relatively flat portion representing the period 1000 AD - 1800 AD--the shaft of the hockey stick--followed by a sharp upward rise that began in the late 1800s and continues to this day--the blade of the hockey stick. When Dr. Mann first published the hockey stick graph in papers he wrote in 1998 and 1999, it quickly became a central icon in the climate change debate. As he writes in "The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars," the hockey stick graph "told an easily understood story with a simple picture: that a sharp and highly unusual rise in atmospheric warming was occurring on Earth." Contrarians bent on discrediting the science of climate change have fiercely attacked the hockey stick, attempting to portray it as the key piece of evidence upon which all of climate change science depends (which is not correct, since many different data sets unrelated to the tree ring studies under attack show a hockey stick-like shape.) The contrarians have adopted "the Serengeti strategy" towards Dr. Mann--"a tried-and-true tactic of the climate change denial campaign...isolate individual scientists just as predators on the Serengeti Plain of Africa hunt their prey: picking off vulnerable individuals from the rest of the herd."

The history of the hockey stick
The book starts with some interesting background on Dr. Mann's career. He got into climate science by accident--while working on his Ph.D. in physics at Yale, funding got tight, and he elected to switch to the Department of Geology and Geophysics, where funding to perform research on natural climate cycles was available. In the mid-1990s, while working on his Ph.D., he helped discover the decades-long natural cycle of alternating warm and cool ocean temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean thought to be responsible for the active hurricane period that began in 1995. He gave the phenomenon the now widely-used name, the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO), during an impromptu interview with science writer Dick Kerr. After receiving his Ph.D. in 1996, Dr. Mann moved on into using statistical methods to study past climate, as gleaned from tree ring studies. He takes the reader on a 5-page college-level discussion of the main technique used, Principal Component Analysis (PCA), and shows how his famed "hockey stick" graph came about. It's one of the best descriptions I've seen on how PCA works (though it will be too technical for some.) His inaugural PCA work showing that the 1990s were likely the warmest decade in at least the past 600 years was published in 1998. Since the paper coincidentally happened to be published on Earth Day during the warmest year in Earth's history, the paper received a huge amount of media attention. His follow-up 1999 paper went further, suggesting that the 1990s were the warmest decade in the past 1,000 years, and 1998 was the warmest year. Dr. Mann was appointed as one of the lead authors of the 2001 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, the massive United Nations summary of climate change science that comes out every six years. We learn some interesting details about the approval process for the 2001 IPCC report, like the fact for two days, the scientists haggled with the Saudi Arabian delegation about one word in the Summary for Policy Makers. The IPCC report's summary requires unanimous approval by all nations, and the Saudis objected to the language that said, "the balance of evidence suggests an appreciable human influence on climate." They debated 30 different alternatives before finally settling on the language, "the balance of evidence suggests a discernible human influence on climate."


Figure 1. The hockey stick graph as it appeared in the IPCC Third Assessment Report WG1 (2001) summary, Figure 2.20, Northern Hemisphere temperature reconstruction. Tree rings, corals, ice cores, and historical records are shown in blue, and instrumental data in red, from AD 1000 to 1999. The grey shaded region indicates the uncertainty in the annual temperature estimates (there is a 95% certainty that the temperature for any given year lies in the gray shaded region.) The thick black line is a smoothed version which highlights the long-term variations. A similar version of this graph appeared in Dr. Mann's original 1999 paper. Climate scientist Dr. Jerry Mahlman was responsible for giving this graph the nickname, the "hockey stick".

The battle begins
The majority of the book focuses on the battles over the hockey stick that ensued in 1998, as soon as Dr. Mann published his research. He writes: For more than a decade, the scientific community, in its effort to communicate the threat of climate change, has had to fight against the headwind of this industry-funded disinformation effort. The collective battles are what I term the "Climate wars". The battle raged furiously through 2006, when an extensive review of the hockey stick was performed by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS)--an organization founded in 1863 by Abraham Lincoln to "investigate, examine, experiment, and report upon any subject of science" for the purpose of informing government policy. The NAS reaffirmed the validity of the hockey stick, concluding: "based on the analyses presented in the original papers by Mann et al. and this new supporting evidence, the committee finds it plausible that the Northern Hemisphere was warmer during the last few decades of the 20th century than during any comparable period over the preceding millennium." Dr. Mann writes, "One might think that this would have put an end to the accusations once and for all. But one would be wrong."

In November 2009, a few weeks before the December international climate summit in Copenhagen, the RealClimate.org website that Dr. Mann contributes to was hacked into, and a file with emails stolen from the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit (CRU) was posted. Dr. Mann explains in detail how these "climategate" emails were taken out context and distorted to appear scandalous by "a massive public relations campaign conducted by major players in the climate change denial movement." To illustrate, he gives the example of Isaac Newton's writings, which can easily be taken out context and distorted to give the impression that he was guilty of "conspiring to avoid public scrutiny," "insulting dissenting scientists," "manipulation of evidence," "knowingly publishing scientific fraud," "suppression of evidence," "abusing the peer review system," and "insulting critics." In the end, no evidence of scientific misconduct was found by any of the five independent reviews of the affair, conducted by the UK Parliament, a CRU commission led by eminent geoscientist Lord Oxburgh, Penn State University, the National Science Foundation Office of the Inspector General, and the University of East Anglia. As a result of "climategate", nothing at all changed in the peer-reviewed scientific literature on climate change. It was a phony scandal.

A fierce advocate of good science
As I read the book, I was impressed by Dr. Mann's tremendous passion for science and knowledge that comes through. He loves figuring out how things work, and stands in fierce opposition to shoddy science and anti-science political attacks. I had the opportunity to sit down over a beer and talk with him at a recent conference, and he had little interest in talking politics. He'd much rather talk about science, and we had a great discussion about hurricanes--he's published several papers that use statistical techniques to estimate how many tropical storms we missed counting in the Atlantic before the advent of satellites. He frequently talks about how science works and the importance of following the scientific method in his book: "The scientific process--left to operate freely--is inherently self-correcting, even if the gears may at times turn more slowly than we would like...Scientists must be allowed to follow the path along which their intellectual inquiries take them, even if their findings and views might appear inconvenient to outside special interests." In the end, Dr. Mann is "cautiously optimistic" that humanity can meet the challenge of climate change, but acknowledges that climate scientists are in a "street fight" against well-funded climate change disinformers bent on obscuring the science.

Conclusion: five stars out of five
The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines is a must-read for every serious student of climate change science, and gets my highest rating: five stars out of five. The book is $17.78 at Amazon.com. True to its title, the book has spawned its own mini-war in the ratings section of Amazon, where readers either loved it or hated it--75% of the reviews were 4 or 5 stars, while 21% were 1 star reviews. Only 4% of the readers gave it a mediocre 2 or 3 star rating. Some of the 1 star reviews are no doubt there because “Watt’s Up With That,” one of the most prominent climate science confusion sites, put up a post calling on readers to attack Mann’s book and to attack positive reviews.

Links
Besieged by Climate Deniers, A Scientist Decides to Fight Back, an opinion piece by Dr. Mann that appeared on the Yale Environment 360 site on April 12.

Much-vindicated Michael Mann and Hockey Stick get final exoneration from Penn State — time for some major media apologies and retractions. Climateprogress.org blog post by Joe Romm.

An interview with Dr. Mann about his book, "The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars", appeared on Andy Revkin's Dot Earth blog in the New York Times on May 3.

My favorite climate science blog is realclimate.org, which Dr. Mann co-founded. You can see one of the latest challenges to the hockey stick answered in a May 11 post discussing tree ring records from Siberia.

I'll have a new post by Friday at the latest.

Jeff Masters

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I know we're not quite there yet, but it shows you that it's not out of the realm of possibility we get something to form down there.

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Quoting MTWX:


I remember Ivan! First Hurricane I witnessed first hand!


Ivan was a strange storm.

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Quoting wunderkidcayman:

so true I can hear Invest 93L calling soon

We may have something to watch in that area in the coming days. Do any of the models pick up on it?
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Later all
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Quoting Grothar:


Not quite the same, see above.

really? oh Im sorry. I think the main thing that fueled 2004 was the Negative PDO, which prevent the EPAC from generating strong equatorial convection, (which results in the shearing of the Tropical Atlantic), this event might also happen this year, so our best Decadal analogs, basically, are 2002, and 2004.
Edit: Just an educated guess ^^^ sorry if im wrong.
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880. MTWX
Quoting Grothar:
2004 a weak el Nino year.



I remember Ivan! First Hurricane I witnessed first hand!
Member Since: Julho 20, 2009 Posts: 23 Comments: 1393
Quoting WxGeekVA:






Aletta is blowing up some strong convection again.

Seems to be trying to make a run at tropical storm status again.
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Quoting HurricaneDean07:

Modoki ;D


Not quite the same, see above. but good thinking.
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Wiki:

El Niño "Modoki" and Central-Pacific El Niño
Map showing Nino3.4 and other index regions
Map of Atlantic major hurricanes during post-"Modoki" seasons, including 1987, 1992, 1995, 2003 and 2005.The traditional Niño, also called Eastern Pacific (EP) El Niño,[57] involves temperature anomalies in the Eastern Pacific. However, in the last two decades non-traditional El Niños were observed, in which the usual place of the temperature anomaly (Nino 1 and 2) is not affected, but an anomaly arises in the central Pacific (Nino 3.4).[58] The phenomenon is called Central Pacific (CP) El Niño,[57] "dateline" El Niño (because the anomaly arises near the dateline), or El Niño "Modoki" (Modoki is Japanese for "similar, but different").[59]

The effects of the CP El Niño are different from those of the traditional EP El Niño — e.g., the new El Niño leads to more hurricanes more frequently making landfall in the Atlantic.[60]

The recent discovery of El Niño Modoki has some scientists believing it to be linked to global warming.[61] However, Satellite data goes back only to 1979. More research must be done to find the correlation and study past El Niño episodes.

The first recorded El Niño that originated in the central Pacific and moved toward the east was in 1986.[62]

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Quoting Grothar:
2004 a weak el Nino year.


Modoki ;D
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Quoting GTcooliebai:
Oh ok, cause that year the storm tracks favored the central gulf coast, and as MississippiWx just showed the 500mb mean heights shows a trough over the Central US with a ridge over the Northeast US.

Bad thing about it is... Were looking at a season that is witnessing(right now) Above average Water temps, upper-level Instability, and low shear in the gulf.
The pattern is set to have many storms in the vicinity of that area, and more of the energy is going to be focused in that area. Foreshadowing much?
Do the math. And it equals UGLY Mothernature. Be prepared Gulf coast, were in for a rough ride this year, it appears.
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2004 a weak el Nino year.

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The 18z Surface Analysis has 92E stationary.

Member Since: Abril 29, 2009 Posts: 75 Comments: 14574






Aletta is blowing up some strong convection again.
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TD Aletta
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Quoting LargoFl:
funny thing yesterday, by my house as i was walking the dogs, it was raining good but three blocks away it was just a light drizzle,mother nature is funny that was..so i take these reporting station reports..with a grain of salt..they may report 1 inch..and a mile away at my house it may well have been over 2 inches or more.



Yeah it all depends on where you live, for example at my house, I was lucky enough to get just under 2 inches yesterday recorded in the rain gauge, we had around 1.09 inches from a strong thunderstorm around noon yesterday, and then 0.89 later on last night withg that nixe shield of long steady rain, we needed that, and, we still need a lot more. My yearly total is now 8.64, that's still around half of average.
Hopefully a wetter pattern will return next week.

BTW, I didn't report last night because i came down with a terrible illness, its stomach flu that behaves like malaria... I've never been this ill before, I started wondering if I would pass out and go to the hospital this morning. It's the first stomach virus I've gotten in many years, doesn't it figure it is pretty much the prince of stomach viruses, lol.


I can see how more severe flu's like this can be fatal to the very young and old and sometimes adults with poor health/diet. Not all flu viruses are created equal, and some apparently feel like severe diseases. I'm a very athletic person and I rarely get sick, that being said I hate to see this virus pass on to someone in poor health, I can barely get up and walk I am so "beaten up" from this thing...
Somehow projectile vomiting literally at least 50 to 60 times since last night and vomiting blood at times just seems a bit beyond the typical stomach flu. At any rate, I'm recovering a bit, from earlier, enough to be able to type. At least I know I'll survive, lol.



My guess is I picked up the virus thanks to some filthy unhygienic person at work who probably wipes his butt without washing his hands, I touched some normal surface not knowing what was on it, and boom.'

Why are so many people so filthy? I remember hearing disturbing study on national news that found that roughly 70 to 80% of men don't wash their hands after using the bathroom, even after taking a crap. Yuck, filthy Americans...
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
2010:



2011:



2012:


Show's you what back-back La Nina Season will do to a basin.
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What it looks like to me, according to the ENSO forcasts, is that Weak El Nino will persist through the rest of 2012(Once it arrives around September), and it's presense will be felt by Late October-November. Then The El Nino will continue on to 2013, not budging much, which leads me to believe that 2013 will be a El Nino year in which there's not near as much activity.
2012- Will be Averagely or slight above averagely active,
and
2013- Will be much less active.
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Quoting HurricaneDean07:

I believe it was an analog.
Oh ok, cause that year the storm tracks favored the central gulf coast, and as MississippiWx just showed the 500mb mean heights shows a trough over the Central US with a ridge over the Northeast US.
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Quoting GTcooliebai:
Anybody know is 2002 an analog year for this season? I just read where that was an EL-Nino year and that no storms formed after Oct. 6.

2002 is the best analogue year I could come up with.
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2010:



2011:



2012:

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Quoting MississippiWx:
The waters off the coast of Africa have quietly gone well above average. Still too early in the game to discount strong African systems. While I am in the El Nino camp, I've been pretty iffy all along on the arrival of its effects. The slower it takes, the longer we will have for a more favorable atmosphere for hurricanes.

Today's Anomalies:



I see that parts of the Central Atlantic are starting to warm up a bit. Quite the change from a few months back when that area had some below average temps.
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TCHP... So any storm that would like to make a run through the caribbean, should get a WARRMMMM welcome.
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Quoting GTcooliebai:
Anybody know is 2002 an analog year for this season? I just read where that was an EL-Nino year and that no storms formed after Oct. 6.

I believe it was an analog.
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860. MTWX
Quoting MAweatherboy1:

As I mentioned earlier by the time it got to 92E's area there wouldn't be much of it left so it would probably have very little effect

Just saw that as my screen refreshed... Thank You.

I see from a post earlier too, the wave train seems to be starting to pull out of the station.
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Anybody know is 2002 an analog year for this season? I just read where that was an EL-Nino year and that no storms formed after Oct. 6.
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NCEP Ensemble Models.



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"Seasons"® in the Sun
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Quoting HurricaneDean07:

This only means that the El Nino's Affects won't arrive until October, November or December. Unless the PDO Takes a tank in September.

With this said, I could see possibly upping up my numbers. Just need to see how the pattern begins to set-up for June before I lock it it.
Current Numbers:
14-6-2

Possible New Numbers:
15-7-4
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Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:
The May ENSO models update has the majority of them at Weak El Nino by August,September and October.



Link

This only means that the El Nino's Affects won't arrive until October, November or December. Unless the PDO Takes a tank in September.
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Quoting MTWX:

If Aletta were to regress back eastward, would it help or hinder 92E??? Just curious on y'alls thoughts...

As I mentioned earlier by the time it got to 92E's area there wouldn't be much of it left so it would probably have very little effect
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851. MTWX
Quoting MAweatherboy1:
Excellent model agreement on the future path of Aletta



(Sarcasm On)

If Aletta were to regress back eastward, would it help or hinder 92E??? Just curious on y'alls thoughts...
Member Since: Julho 20, 2009 Posts: 23 Comments: 1393
Quoting MississippiWx:


I'm thinking something like 12, 6, 3. Arrival of El Nino in the middle/late portion of the year should shutdown the season earlier than normal. However, I think we can manage those numbers (plus or minus 1) before conditions become to unfavorable.

Ha, that's what I had in my hurricane season forecast from May 8.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

Yeah, there are going to need to be some adjustments. Good chance we're going to be looking at an above average season season now, as opposed to a normal or slightly below normal year.


I'm thinking something like 12, 6, 3. Arrival of El Nino in the middle/late portion of the year should shutdown the season earlier than normal. However, I think we can manage those numbers (plus or minus 1) before conditions become too unfavorable.
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Quoting MississippiWx:


Looks like the majority want it to get eaten by future Bud.

That would be interesting to see but unfortunately it probably won't be much more than a weak remnant low by then
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Quoting MAweatherboy1:
Excellent model agreement on the future path of Aletta



(Sarcasm On)


Looks like the majority want it to get eaten by future Bud.
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Quoting ProgressivePulse:
Afternoon All.

I see T-Waves are making their presence on the maps once again. Wonder if future numbers adjustments will be made for the Atlantic. Seems most are hedging the preseason numbers on an El Nino developing, which it may. However, maybe not till it's too late to have an impact looking at recent ENSO models.

Yeah, there are going to need to be some adjustments. Good chance we're going to be looking at an above average season season now, as opposed to a normal or slightly below normal year.
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Caribbean
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Afternoon All.

I see T-Waves are making their presence on the maps once again. Wonder if future numbers adjustments will be made for the Atlantic. Seems most are hedging the preseason numbers on an El Nino developing, which it may. However, maybe not till it's too late to have an impact looking at recent ENSO models.
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843. txjac

Link

Solar panel pricing on its way up?

Saw this on CNN and thought about the discussions earlier this week concerning solar energy
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Quoting MississippiWx:
Will be interesting if this type of pattern persists into the meat of the hurricane season. This is the 8-10 day 500mb mean heights. Notice the trough in the Central US with a ridge over the Northeast US.

Not a good pattern...
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Excellent model agreement on the future path of Aletta



(Sarcasm On)
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Will be interesting if this type of pattern persists into the meat of the hurricane season. This is the 8-10 day 500mb mean heights. Notice the trough in the Central US with a ridge over the Northeast US.

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Notice that 92E will have great influence on the track and the big disturbance will suck what is left of Aletta into it's circulation.


TROPICAL DEPRESSION ALETTA DISCUSSION NUMBER 14
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL EP012012
200 PM PDT THU MAY 17 2012

CONVECTION HAS PERSISTED IN RAGGED BANDS NEAR THE CENTER OF ALETTA
DURING THE PAST SEVERAL HOURS. HOW LONG THIS CONVECTION CAN
PERSIST IS UNCERTAIN...SINCE ALETTA CONTINUES TO EXPERIENCE
20 KT OF SOUTH-SOUTHWESTERLY VERTICAL WIND SHEAR AND DRY AIR
ENTRAINMENT. IT IS EXPECTED THAT THIS COMBINATION OF INGREDIENTS
SHOULD CAUSE ALETTA TO DEGENERATE INTO A REMNANT LOW IN 36 HOURS OR
LESS. FINAL DISSIPATION IS LIKELY IN 72-96 HOURS AS THE REMNANT LOW
BECOMES ABSORBED BY A LARGER DISTURBANCE TO THE EAST.

ALETTA HAS TURNED TO THE RIGHT DURING THE PAST SEVERAL HOURS AND THE
THE INITIAL MOTION IS NOW 360/5. ALETTA IS EMBEDDED IN AN AREA OF
WEAK STEERING CURRENTS SOUTH OF A MID-LEVEL TROUGH OVER
NORTHWESTERN MEXICO. THE TRACK GUIDANCE SUGGESTS THAT THE CYCLONE
OR ITS REMNANTS SHOULD MOVE SLOWLY NORTHEASTWARD AND EASTWARD
DURING THE NEXT 48 HOURS...FOLLOWED BY A TURN TOWARD THE SOUTHEAST
OR SOUTH AS THE LARGER DISTURBANCE BECOMES THE MAIN STEERING
MECHANISM. THE NEW FORECAST TRACK IS ADJUSTED A LITTLE TO THE EAST
OF THE PREVIOUS TRACK BASED ON THE INITIAL POSITION AND MOTION.

FORECAST POSITIONS AND MAX WINDS

INIT 17/2100Z 13.1N 114.7W 30 KT 35 MPH
12H 18/0600Z 13.4N 114.7W 25 KT 30 MPH
24H 18/1800Z 13.8N 114.6W 25 KT 30 MPH
36H 19/0600Z 14.0N 114.1W 20 KT 25 MPH...POST-TROP/REMNT LOW
48H 19/1800Z 13.9N 113.5W 20 KT 25 MPH...POST-TROP/REMNT LOW
72H 20/1800Z 13.0N 112.5W 20 KT 25 MPH...POST-TROP/REMNT LOW
96H 21/1800Z 12.0N 112.0W 20 KT 25 MPH...POST-TROP/REMNT LOW
120H 22/1800Z...DISSIPATED

$$
FORECASTER BEVEN

Member Since: Abril 29, 2009 Posts: 75 Comments: 14574
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The safest place for development would have to be in its current location, give or take 50-75 miles. Once it makes it into the Gulf or SW Atlantic (if it ever does), it's over as the subtropical jet is forecast to race through there for the next week at least:

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Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:
The May ENSO models update has the majority of them at Weak El Nino by August,September and October.



Link
Yeah notice "weak".And it'll maybe take awhile for us to feel the effects.I'm sorta hoping for a weak one so that i can have an interesting hurricane season and a snowy winter...
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000
WTPZ31 KNHC 172045
TCPEP1

BULLETIN
TROPICAL DEPRESSION ALETTA ADVISORY NUMBER 14
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL EP012012
200 PM PDT THU MAY 17 2012

...ALETTA TURNS NORTHWARD...


SUMMARY OF 200 PM PDT...2100 UTC...INFORMATION
----------------------------------------------
LOCATION...13.1N 114.7W
ABOUT 745 MI...1200 KM SSW OF THE SOUTHERN TIP OF BAJA CALIFORNIA
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...35 MPH...55 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT...N OR 360 DEGREES AT 6 MPH...9 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...1006 MB...29.71 INCHES


WATCHES AND WARNINGS
--------------------
THERE ARE NO COASTAL WATCHES OR WARNINGS IN EFFECT.


DISCUSSION AND 48-HOUR OUTLOOK
------------------------------
AT 200 PM PDT...2100 UTC...THE CENTER OF TROPICAL DEPRESSION ALETTA
WAS LOCATED NEAR LATITUDE 13.1 NORTH...LONGITUDE 114.7 WEST. THE
DEPRESSION IS NOW MOVING TOWARD THE NORTH NEAR 6 MPH...9 KM/H. A
TURN TOWARD THE NORTHEAST AND EAST AT A SLOW FORWARD SPEED IS
EXPECTED DURING THE NEXT COUPLE OF DAYS.

MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS ARE NEAR 35 MPH...55 KM/H...WITH HIGHER
GUSTS. WEAKENING IS FORECAST DURING THE NEXT 48 HOURS...AND ALETTA
IS EXPECTED TO DEGENERATE TO A REMNANT LOW PRESSURE AREA FRIDAY OR
FRIDAY NIGHT.

ESTIMATED MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE IS 1006 MB...29.71 INCHES.


HAZARDS AFFECTING LAND
----------------------
NONE


NEXT ADVISORY
-------------
NEXT COMPLETE ADVISORY...800 PM PDT.

$$
FORECASTER BEVEN
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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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