Hurricane and Tsunamis can seem like evil forces to most. But, to surfers, these weather systems can have a silver lining. But, after the season 2017, balancing the bad-side of the storms gets increasingly more difficult. In fact, hurricanes have been responsible for more loss of life in the United States than any other natural hazard.
Almost 1/5 of the population of the United States lives in hurricane-exposed counties along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. These storms can take lives and cause billions of dollars in damage with their high winds, storm surges, torrential rainfall and huge waves.
During Hurricane Sandy in 2012, a buoy off the coast of New York registered a wave 32.5 feet high. And, in 2017, forecasts of 60′ swells coming into Deerfield Beach were causing us to get quite nervous. Remember, waves are created when wind blows across the ocean, transferring energy to the water. At first, this leads to a random choppiness, but eventually builds to larger but still irregular waves with no systematic pattern. This kind of wind energy is general not surfable and is what we see when a storm upsets the ocean. But, when those disorganized waves finally reach the shallow water of a distant shore, the friction causes them to slow down. They begin to bunch together and increase in height. And finally. when the water gets too shallow, they topple over. If the slope of the ocean floor is steep enough, you get plunging waves, which are the perfect kind for those of us longing for some “tube-time”.
Surfing too close to a raging storm will never give us the kind of waves we are looking for, but a storm a small distance away will give us both waves and minimal destruction.While storms like Irma and Maris wreaked havoc in the Caribbean and other parts of the world, we saw some of the best swell in years. How do we balance gleefully paddling out while our neighbors are cleaning up from the destruction? For some surfers, rooting for hurricane swells may be increasingly difficult to rationalize.
Hurricane Season in the Future
Hurricanes season is at it’s peak when the ocean water was at its warmest. The warm water gives power to these storms. If our oceans are, in fact, getting warmer will hurricanes will become more powerful in the future? Those who believe in warming oceans wonder if we will see an increase in storms each season or maybe fewer storms with a greater intensity.
But this week, as much of the country sees frigid temps falling into the negatives, we once again reap the benefits with a storm that has caused havoc in some ares but an epic winter swell for us. As, we continue to balance the joys of weather like we balance suffering with an all-loving all-powerful God, maybe the solution is to embrace the swells but dive into helping others on the other end of the storm. And, that we continue being good stewards of our God-given earth, striving to protect the environment for future generations.
2018 Early Predictions
Acorrding to Dan Kottlowski, a meteorologist and hurricane expert at AccuWeather, we have the possibility of a busy 2018 season. “The conditions for tropical development won’t be quite as ideal [as 2017], however with the warm temperatures across the Atlantic Basin we have to assume there will be a better chance we’ll see an above-average number of storms across the Atlantic next year.”
Why? Weather patterns known as El Nino and La Nina refer to temperature phases of the massive stretch of the open Pacific along the equator and both affect the Atlantic hurricane season. El Niño usually brings stronger wind shears and as a result fewer hurricanes, while La Niña usuallly means weaker wind shears which lead to more hurricanes.
Kottlowski said “the La Niña conditions that began to emerge this year and were currently in effect were expected to fade by the spring or summer of 2018 into a neutral weather pattern.” Even if this shift happens in spring the lull would still be more hospitable to tropical storm formation than if El Niño conditions were to develop.
According to reports, Dennis Feltgen, spokesman for the Miami-based National Hurricane Center, the federal government’s hurricane forecasting headquarters, declined to make a prediction for 2018. The official hurricane season forecast from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, is typically released in late May. “We have six months until the next season begins on June 1,” Feltgen said. “Use that time wisely. The farther we get from the last hurricane, the closer we get to the next one.”
According to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the 2017 season was the seventh most active on record. So, we have time to plan now and continue to pray for waves but also pray for mercy from the intensity of these massive storms in 2018.