Tropics Still Active

<B>(5:30 pm Wednesday October 17th)</B> We are just two weeks from Halloween and there is still some activity to talk about in the tropics. It's not all that unusual in the mid October and is actually to be expected.
We may have had some bouts of chilly fall weather here in central New York recently but the tropics are still percolating.  We had Hurricane Paul out in the Pacific Ocean flirting with the Baja Peninsula the last few days and now Hurricane Rafael moving north past Bermuda. It should come as no surprise as there is typically a second peak in tropical activity at this point in October.

Rafael is an interesting storm. Earlier today it was still classified as a hurricane but as of the 5 pm update it is now an extra-tropical storm.  Rafael came in contact with a frontal boundary and ,although the winds are still strong ( 75 mph),  it is behaving more like a mid latitude cyclone.  The storm is forecast to take an interesting track over the next 5 days.  On this forecast track map from the National Hurricane Center I’ve included some arrows to show the loop that Rafael will likely take this weekend.

I bring up Rafael because it is the 15th named storm of the hurricane season in the Atlantic. While there weren’t many storms that directly impacted the United States mainland it has been an active year.  Here are the tracks of all the tropical systems this year (not including Rafael)

there may be a connection with our upcoming winter.  Several years ago I looked at the number of tropical systems during the hurricane season (since 1949) and Syracuse snowfall during the following winters. It seems that the more tropical systems the snowier our winter is:

Number of Atlantic StormsPct. of following winters with 130”+ of snow
5-9 Storms32%
10-14 Storms34%
15+ Storms50%

I will, however, strongly caution you before reading too much into these numbers.  The years with large numbers of Atlantic systems is skewed heavily to the years from 1995 to the present when there were a large number of heavy snowfall years.  And even when you take that into account, two of the 10 active years ended up with winters that had some of the least seasonal snowfall in Syracuse history:  2001-02 (59.4”) and last year (50.6”).  Certainly far from a slam dunk if you are trying to use this solely as predictor of our winter weather.  Don’t worry, we are pouring through other data and keeping an eye on developing patterns this fall and will come out with our winter forecast next month.
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