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First tropical storm of season forms in Atlantic

Posted by David Epstein  May 20, 2012 01:29 PM

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Alberto, the first named storm of the season formed this weekend of the southeast coast. This storm, will give some rain and a bit of wind to portions of South Carolina but is a non-event as tropical systems go. Around our area, fine May weather continues with warm afternoon temperatures and plenty of sunshine through some high clouds. A few showers will cross the area later Monday into Tuesday before drier weather returns for the second half of the week. There is also a partial solar eclipse occurring in some parts of the world today and tomorrow. SE2012May20A.gifAlong the east coast, we miss out as the sun sets just before the eclipse starts. The shadow moving west to east is the eclipse, the shadow moving east to west is the sunset. The sunset happens first along the eastern seaboard. Next time astronomy lovers.

Alberto is this years first tropical storm and radar is already picking up some rain off the southeast coast. (image below). Alberto is expected to stay off the coast and not make landfall. Some moisture from Alberto could get pulled into our area Monday and enhance our showers just a bit. Anytime you get a tropical system involved with another low pressure area, the rainfall from the non-tropical storm can be higher. Most of the heaviest rain should stay off the coast Monday night.

Alberto rain.jpg

Marketing vs. science
While listening to one of the morning talk shows today, I heard the on-air weather person mention how early it was for a tropical system to form. She kept saying how unusual this storm was since it wasn't even hurricane season yet. You would have thought, by listening to her, that this had never happened before in our lifetime. We, as humans, have this incessant need to categorize everything and when something falls out of our made-up rules, we go on and on about it as if it's the most unusual thing in the world. Hurricane season runs from June 1st through November 30th. However, no one tells the storms when to start. This so-called season is based on when most tropical systems occur. We are only 11 days from the start of the "official season" and Alberto's formation, while out of the normal range, is not unprecedented.

Take a look at the chart below, tropical systems have formed in the Atlantic basin in every month of the year, at some point, since 1851. Admittedly, if we started getting routine hurricanes in January, something would have had to have changed quite drastically in the ocean. However, we do get tropical systems about every 10 years in May, and Alberto is the earliest to form since 2003, about average.

hurricane numbers.jpg

So, what's my point? As consumers of information, we need to constantly ask ourselves what is true and what is said for the sake of shock value, marketing, or other agenda. Recently, a friend posted a poster on their Facebook page that stated, "since 1950, humans have consumed 1/3rd of all the world's resources" The intent of the post was to get us to consume less, a wonderful idea and one I embrace. However, as a scientist, my hackles go up when I see these statements made as if they are science. Think about what that is saying for a second. That means that since 1962, 33% of every natural resource in the world is gone. 33% less water, fewer trees, gold, natural gas, soil, salt, oil, etc. Have some natural resources declined since 1950? Absolutely. Have all of them gone down by 1/3rd? 100%, unequivocally, no. I constantly challenge my college students to back up their statements, as well as those they read, hear etc. with facts. Find research that supports the hypothesis, then put it out there for others to consume. By the way, Alberto is expected to stay offshore. (see image below)

Alberto track.jpg

Back to the weather

Ok, I am stepping off my soap box now to let you know the rest of the day will be mainly sunny and warm. Temperatures will be in the lower 80s, except within a few miles of the water where temperatures will hold in the lower 70s. Tomorrow, an area of clouds and showers will move along the coast giving us some more rain. Temperatures will be cooler only in the 60s in the afternoon. After 5 days of dry weather this is perfect timing and it's a Monday. There may be a few leftover showers Tuesday, but I am not expecting a washout. Wednesday looks to be partly sunny with a shower possible, but not likely. No chance of rain is in the forecast for the end of the week.

Gardening this week-Container gardening
Many of you would love to get your containers planted for Memorial Day this weekend. Have you ever thought about planting native plants in your container and mixing it up a bit? Check out this video and learn more about using native plants in containers.

Follow me on Twitter at @growingwisdom and check out my latest videos at GrowingWisdom.com

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author

David Epstein has been a professional meteorologist and horticulturalist for three decades. David spent 16 years at WCVB in Boston and currently freelances for WGME in Portland, ME. In 2006, More »
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