Wednesday, 10 January 2018
Exhibit Hall 3 (ACC) (Austin, Texas)
In June 1933, a Category One hurricane made landfall on the southeastern coast of Trinidad. This was the first and only hurricane to make landfall on the island during modern climate records, i.e., since the middle 19th century. The storm caused thirteen fatalities on Trinidad and yielded $55.1 million (in 2016 dollars) in damage. With twenty named tropical systems, 1933 was the second most active tropical season on record for the Atlantic basin. This is not entirely surprising since there were a developing La Niña over the equatorial Pacific and there was a positive phase on the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation in place, both of which are positive factors for an active season for the tropical Atlantic. However, neither of these factors would yield such a southerly track. A preliminary examination of reanalysis data indicated the 500 mb geopotential heights across tropical Atlantic during late June 1933 were well above the 1921-1950 climate normal. This uncharacteristic feature may have contributed to this southerly track and the cyclone’s landfall on Trinidad, as the 500 mb winds are a proxy for the hurricane steering flow. Further research is being conducted by examining reanalysis data to determine the statistical likelihood of the anomalous ridge, both in its contemporaneous era, as well as the Climate Change (1981-2010) era.
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