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Matt's World Of Weather: Zombie Comet & Hurricane Season Recap

Zombie Comet ISON
I've held my breath hoping the longer I wait, the better the news. Unfortunately, it looks like Comet ISON will not put on the "bright as the moon" show we expected as far back as last year (Matt's World Of Weather: Want To See A Comet?). As I talked about in November, ISON was too dim to see with the naked-eye on the initial approach. Thus, we would have to wait until the middle of December, after it made a trip around the sun, to get a good view. But like most ice cubes that play chicken with the sun, the 730,000 miles proved too close of an encounter with the 10 million degree heat and caused the comet to, at least presumably, melt away.

I say presumably because the initial feeling was that nothing came around the other side of the sun, when in fact, photos taken soon after did show a small...something still intact. The small fragment that did survive, after many claimed ISON's demise, caused such a stir on Social Media that scientists started to call ISON the Zombie Comet due to it initially being "dead", but then "living" again.

Moral of the story though additional photos proved to be the best zombie killer in this situation and ISON is too little and too dim for our viewing pleasure. As they put it on Spaceweather.com, "a naked-eye spectacle is out of the question." While we lose ISON, we will still have plenty to gaze at in our North Carolina sky this month including the ISS, Venus and the rising of Aquarius. OH! And another nighttime rocket launch on December 15th!

Stay tuned for details...

2013 Hurricane Season
As you've probably heard, but didn't necessarily feel, 2013 was a very quiet hurricane season, the 6th quietest ever with NO major hurricanes. I'll post the graphic with the official numbers, but wanted to at least give you some reasons on why the outlooks heading into this season were so...well, honestly...bad. Three months prior to the start of the season, the forecast data indicated above average sea surface temperatures and a low sheer environment June through November (all signs of a very active season). Technology in conjunction with prior hurricane seasons allow us to "see" and forecast these variables confidently 2/3/4 months ahead of time. We are limited however when forecasting other small, micro-variables. In 2013's case, it was African dust. The variable is too small and our abilities are too limited to forecast how much and where African dust will settle some 120 days out. In turn, this dust was part of the kryptonite that limited tropical development and busted all hurricane season forecasts in 2013.

As disappointing as it was to put together such a bad hurricane outlook, I take some consolation with being on the right side of wrong in this situation. It is my hope that we were prepared for the worst without having to put any plans into action.


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