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Old 22-11-2015, 04:10   #1
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Has the weather gone bonkers?

My wife and I are planning to move back onto a yacht in a year or so. We spent 2 years in the Med and have swallowed the anchor 12 months ago.
My concern, based on my experience and that of friends still living aboard in the Med is that the weather is getting less seasonal, less predictable and more extreme. This concern is so great that we are seriously questioning our decision. Examples include tornados in Mallorca in the summer, hurricane warnings in Sicily in the early autumn etc etc...
We would like to circumnavigate. My question is... Am I over worrying? Is the weather always this quirky? Or, have other members here experienced the same thing?
Obviously, if the weather becomes less seasonal, who is to say that there won't be out of season tropical storms? How much would you not like to see one in the south Atlantic in December?
Any personal insights would be most welcome.
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Old 22-11-2015, 05:57   #2
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Re: Has the weather gone bonkers?

Nothing new or different. It's just that any severe weather these days is seized on as an example of "climate change" and hyped in the media so people are more aware of these events.

Does your experience tell you what it is like compared to the 1930s or 1950s?

It's hard to get solid historical data but there's nothing new about tornadoes in the Balearics: Tornadoes_Balearics

And for Sicilian hurricanes, how about September 1902. San Francisco Call 30 September 1902 — California Digital Newspaper Collection
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Old 22-11-2015, 06:22   #3
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Re: Has the weather gone bonkers?

I think it is very hard to pin this down. When we crossed the Indian Ocean toward South Africa a few years ago we wanted to be in Richards Bay by the end of the November before the cyclone season began.Had to bail out of Mauritius because a tropical storm was coming. TS happen - about two every three years in November. It developed into a Cat 3 cyclone - the first cyclone ever in November in that part of the world. You pay your money and take your choice. All you can do is make sure you have done your homework. BTW, Cyclone Anais went exactly on the course predicted and stayed north of Mauritius and pretty much had died out before reaching Madagascar. We did not feel it at all as we headed south and west.
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Old 22-11-2015, 06:52   #4
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Re: Has the weather gone bonkers?

Thanks Guys. Stu... I think that you have the nub of the matter. We all know every time we leave the house that the weather is a matter of statistical probabilities. What I can't decide is whether it is an issue of perception or reality or maybe a bit of both...
My perception is that "unusual" events are becoming more frequent but I am happy to believe that I have been brainwashed by the media!
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Old 22-11-2015, 07:10   #5
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Re: Has the weather gone bonkers?

Information availability is greater is all IMO. Back before the pony express, Suzy Smith in the Midwest US hadn't a clue of the weather (or the historical tendencies of it) in Bangladesh. Now we can be awed with live steam video of {insert wild weather event} from our mobile phone.

The weather changes. When it stops changing, then I'll start worrying.

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Old 22-11-2015, 07:21   #6
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Re: Has the weather gone bonkers?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Thames 4 Blood View Post
My wife and I are planning to move back onto a yacht in a year or so. We spent 2 years in the Med and have swallowed the anchor 12 months ago.
My concern, based on my experience and that of friends still living aboard in the Med is that the weather is getting less seasonal, less predictable and more extreme. This concern is so great that we are seriously questioning our decision. Examples include tornados in Mallorca in the summer, hurricane warnings in Sicily in the early autumn etc etc...
We would like to circumnavigate. My question is... Am I over worrying? Is the weather always this quirky? Or, have other members here experienced the same thing?
Obviously, if the weather becomes less seasonal, who is to say that there won't be out of season tropical storms? How much would you not like to see one in the south Atlantic in December?
Any personal insights would be most welcome.
You are overworrying. Exceptional weather has been the norm since humans started looking to windward. Much of the recent reporting is just that: effect of the internet. Now everything is filmed, recorded, reported. Where hundreds of MAJOR and hundreds of thousands of minor storms would go unreported fifteen or twenty years ago, we now hear of everything and can watch it in real time on many satellite data sites.

Don't let it bother you. Go back to sea if this is your only concern.
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Old 22-11-2015, 07:43   #7
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Re: Has the weather gone bonkers?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Thames 4 Blood View Post
.

..... My question is... Am I over worrying? Is the weather always this quirky? Or, have other members here experienced the same thing?.....
People whose lives and livelihood are directly affected by the weather (like Farmers and Sailors) have a heightened awareness of weather changes and as such....we worry.

That is not a bad thing as there are better and better forecasting models and trending data with which to adjust your schedule based on real time data.

So my answer is "Yes and No"

Yes....be worried as it will stimulate you to become a better meteorologist.

No.....because..... until the polar caps completely disappear , there will always be a ying and yang with navigable weather windows.
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Old 22-11-2015, 07:45   #8
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Re: Has the weather gone bonkers?

I would tend to agree in general with above comments as far as severe weather occurrences. Pretty much the same number of storms per year recorded over many years, especially if data is adjusted for the fact that detection tools have improved much over the years so that storms are more likely to be recorded.

One item of concern however, is that the intensity of cyclones has been shown to have a correlation with ocean water surface temperatures. And of course ocean water surface temperatures have risen and are predicted to continue to rise in the future. On the plus side, the science of cyclone prediction has improved greatly, so that I would think that one's risk is actually reduced as long as one pays attention to the forecasts.

Regarding cyclone intensity look at:
http://www3.epa.gov/climatechange/im...load3-2015.png
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Old 22-11-2015, 10:44   #9
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Re: Has the weather gone bonkers?

All good thoughts above. But - there will always be some parts of the ocean which are more affected by changing weather patterns than others. And it can definitely mean the difference to you enjoying where you are or your passages or hating everything. Our weather here is rapidly cycling between extremes - warmest, driest summer to wettest, coldest fall/winter on record. In between we will have some of the same ol' "normal" weather we always have.

But as one example, the hurricane "season" for the Mexican Pacific may be longer than in the past (or not). The "normal" "safe" start to go south has been October 31st each year. That was the date that my insurance would either protect me or not protect me as I went south. Now there is a significant chance that major hurricanes will happen after that date. It may not happen, but it is trending that way. Next year will be an important data point on that issue. Cruising routes all over the world have their own "normal" "safest" times, as do over-summering spots to avoid cyclones and hurricanes.

But it is what it is and right now the scientists are still learning. The Pacific may have the strongest, or close to strongest, El Nino's ever. That might make passage-making along the US coast harder, with more time spent holed up in ports to avoid a series of big storms (or not).

Some other places may see significant changes in sailing and moorage conditions too. So you just have to learn as much about weather as you can, pay attention, get more info/data as you go, and plan accordingly. One thing about weather - it will always change.
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Old 22-11-2015, 11:09   #10
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Re: Has the weather gone bonkers?

If you think the weather is going bonkers, you're correct, and yes, it does cycle. However the sampling of the period you addressed didn't incorporate a significantly longer cycle period. Here is your chart

http://www3.epa.gov/climatechange/im...load3-2015.png

Click on the linky thing below from the US EPA to note the historical data of the 1880's and the 1940's, which had severe peaks.

Tropical Cyclone Activity | Climate Change | US EPA









Quote:
Originally Posted by Thames 4 Blood View Post
My wife and I are planning to move back onto a yacht in a year or so. We spent 2 years in the Med and have swallowed the anchor 12 months ago.
My concern, based on my experience and that of friends still living aboard in the Med is that the weather is getting less seasonal, less predictable and more extreme. This concern is so great that we are seriously questioning our decision. Examples include tornados in Mallorca in the summer, hurricane warnings in Sicily in the early autumn etc etc...
We would like to circumnavigate. My question is... Am I over worrying? Is the weather always this quirky? Or, have other members here experienced the same thing?
Obviously, if the weather becomes less seasonal, who is to say that there won't be out of season tropical storms? How much would you not like to see one in the south Atlantic in December?
Any personal insights would be most welcome.
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Old 22-11-2015, 13:40   #11
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Re: Has the weather gone bonkers?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Thames 4 Blood View Post
Thanks Guys. Stu... I think that you have the nub of the matter. We all know every time we leave the house that the weather is a matter of statistical probabilities. What I can't decide is whether it is an issue of perception or reality or maybe a bit of both...
My perception is that "unusual" events are becoming more frequent but I am happy to believe that I have been brainwashed by the media!
"The media" act less in service of unbiased reportage and more in service of the profit motive of their corporate masters. It could hardly be otherwise.

If there is arguably more warmth in the atmosphere, and we have just passed 1 degree Celsius worldwide since records have been broadly kept (the last 150 years or so), then it is helpful to consider that heat as energy that is analogous to pushing a swing slightly harder. The swing will go higher on the up (hotter) and the down (colder) stroke, thanks to the energy input of that single degree.

This makes the likelihood of both weather extremes (too strong, too weak, wrong time of year) and lessening seasonality (short or brutal winters and summers at mid-latitudes) more pronounced.

Should you throw out your pilot charts? No, but a couple of decades will possibly make them less useful, as most of them are predicated from the past readings going back 200 years and the effect of, say, the weather reports of the last 50 will take time to alter those wind roses.

I've noticed (mostly benign) changes where I live in Canada, but they've been more severe or "weird" elsewhere. It's one of the reasons we bought a steel full-keeler: if we are going to be surprised by wonky weather, heaving to is a good tactic.

But you're not wrong. A hotter atmosphere means more energy to alter patterns. I don't care who gets blamed for it, because it's only going to continue even if we turned off every car and chimney tomorrow. So to me, the question as a cruiser is how to factor weird, worse or wonky weather into the game plan.
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Old 22-11-2015, 14:23   #12
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Re: Has the weather gone bonkers?

Quote:
Originally Posted by S/V Alchemy View Post
"The media" act less in service of unbiased reportage and more in service of the profit motive of their corporate masters. It could hardly be otherwise.

If there is arguably more warmth in the atmosphere, and we have just passed 1 degree Celsius worldwide since records have been broadly kept (the last 150 years or so), then it is helpful to consider that heat as energy that is analogous to pushing a swing slightly harder. The swing will go higher on the up (hotter) and the down (colder) stroke, thanks to the energy input of that single degree.

This makes the likelihood of both weather extremes (too strong, too weak, wrong time of year) and lessening seasonality (short or brutal winters and summers at mid-latitudes) more pronounced.

Should you throw out your pilot charts? No, but a couple of decades will possibly make them less useful, as most of them are predicated from the past readings going back 200 years and the effect of, say, the weather reports of the last 50 will take time to alter those wind roses.

I've noticed (mostly benign) changes where I live in Canada, but they've been more severe or "weird" elsewhere. It's one of the reasons we bought a steel full-keeler: if we are going to be surprised by wonky weather, heaving to is a good tactic.

But you're not wrong. A hotter atmosphere means more energy to alter patterns. I don't care who gets blamed for it, because it's only going to continue even if we turned off every car and chimney tomorrow. So to me, the question as a cruiser is how to factor weird, worse or wonky weather into the game plan.
A sensible response (though I'm guessing I wouldn't be so agreeable to the philosphy behind it). From what I've observed in my own little world there's definately been a weather shift down here. It's not really deniable. Though many might dispute the cause. But for 'sailing', S/V Alchemy has summed it up nicely. Pilot charts are still reliable. Expect a little change in depth markings on charts. And pick up local knowledge on the severe's of storms and when they are likely to be.
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Old 22-11-2015, 14:28   #13
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Re: Has the weather gone bonkers?

second el nino in sequence and is labelled a super el nino... that should answer that climate question.
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Old 22-11-2015, 15:37   #14
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Re: Has the weather gone bonkers?

Bonkers? no, it's just better documented I think. The weather is always variable. It's fun to look at the world's sailing atlases to see averages or (by the stats recorded over time) expected weather patterns in certian months--realizing nothing is absolute. The more recent Cornell's Ocean Atlas for cruisers weights data towards more recent weather patterns as well.

We tend to think we're experiencing "odd" weather when we're faced with something besides the average, I suppose.

Enjoy your boat and your travels! as we're enjoying ours. -- Brenda
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