Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Episode 526 (5-25-20): Here Comes the 2020 Atlantic Tropical Cyclone Season, Led Off by Arthur in May

Click to listen to episode (5:22)

Sections below are the following:
Transcript of Audio
Audio Notes and Acknowledgments
Extra Information
Related Water Radio Episodes
For Virginia Teachers (Relevant SOLs, etc.)

Unless otherwise noted, all Web addresses mentioned were functional as of 5-22-20.


From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of May 25, 2020.

MUSIC – ~10 seconds - instrumental

That’s part of “DBW,” by The Faux Paws, from a 2018 collection called “The Hurricane EP” because it resulted when plans changed due to Hurricane Florence, which struck the Atlantic coast in September 2018.  That makes the tune a fitting opening for our annual preview of the Atlantic tropical cyclone season.  Have a listen for about 30 seconds to 21 names that we hope will NOT become infamous this summer or fall.

GUEST VOICES and INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC - ~26 sec – “Arthur.  Bertha.  Cristobal.  Dolly.  Edouard.  Fay.  Gonzalo.  Hanna.   Isaias.  Josephine.  Kyle.  Laura.  Marco.  Nana.  Omar.  Paulette.  Rene.  Sally.  Teddy.  Vicky.  Wilfred.”

You heard the names planned for storms that may occur during the 2020 tropical cyclone season in the Atlantic Basin.  The names were accompanied by “Tropical Tantrum,” by Torrin Hallett.  The Atlantic basin includes the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico, and the Atlantic tropical cyclone season runs officially from June 1 through November 30.  But tropical weather doesn’t always abide by the official dates.  For the past five years in the Atlantic basin, named storms have formed before June 1: Hurricane Alex in mid-January 2016; Tropical Storm Arlene in April 2017; Subtropical Storm Alberto in May 2018; Subtropical Storm Andrea in May 2019; and this year, Tropical Storm Arthur on May 17.

[Editor’s correction and note, not in the audio: Named storms have formed before June 1 in the past six (not five) years, including this year; besides the ones mentioned in the audio, others were Ana in May 2015, Bonnie in May 2016, and Bertha in May 2020 (occurring after this episode was posted).]

Tropical storms and hurricanes are two categories of tropical cyclones, which are rotating storm systems that start in tropical or sub-tropical latitudes.  A tropical cyclone is called a tropical storm—and gets a name—when sustained wind speeds reach 39 miles per hour; at 74 miles per hour, a tropical cyclone is considered a hurricane.  Tropical depressions—with wind speeds below 39 miles per hour—don’t get named if they never reach tropical storm wind speed,* but they can still bring heavy rainfall and flooding.  Hurricane-force storms are called simply tropical cyclones in some parts of the world and called typhoons in other parts.

[*Editor's note, not in the audio: A tropical system that never gets above the tropical depression wind-speed level won’t be given a name.  But a lingering tropical depression that previously was at the wind speed of a tropical storm or hurricane will have a name associated with it.]

Before a tropical system of any speed or name barges into the Old Dominion, here are some important preparedness steps you can take:
Make a written emergency plan, including an evacuation plan;
Assemble an emergency kit of food, water, medicines, and supplies, including cleaning and sanitation supplies needed in this year of the coronavirus pandemic;
Prepare your home for high winds; and
Establish ways to stay informed, especially if the power goes out.

Detailed safety tips for hurricanes and other severe weather are available from the “Safety” link at the National Weather Service Web site, www.weather.gov.  While the Weather Service’s “Hurricane Preparedness Week” for 2020 was May 3-9, right now is still a good time to start getting ready for the next tropical cyclone!

Thanks to several Blacksburg, Va., friends for lending their voices to this episode, and thanks to Torrin Hallett for composing “Tropical Tantrum” for Virginia Water Radio in 2017.  Thanks also to Andrew VanNorstrand for permission to use this week’s music by The Faux Paws, and we close with about 20 more seconds of “DBW,” from The Hurricane EP.

MUSIC - ~22 sec – instrumental


Virginia Water Radio is produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, part of Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment.  For more Virginia water sounds, music, or information, visit us online at virginiawaterradio.org, or call the Water Center at (540) 231-5624.  Thanks to Stewart Scales for his banjo version of Cripple Creek to open and close this show.  In Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.


“DBW,” from the 2018 album “The Hurricane EP,” is copyright by The Faux Paws, used with permission of Andrew VanNorstrand.  Information about “The Hurricane EP” and The Faux Paws is available online at https://thefauxpaws.bandcamp.com/releases.

The 2020 Atlantic tropical cyclone season names were called out by 11 Blacksburg friends of Virginia Water radio on May 21-22, 2020.  Thanks to those people for participating in this episode.

“Tropical Tantrum” is copyright 2017 by Torrin Hallett, used with permission.  Torrin is a 2018 graduate of Oberlin College and Conservatory in Oberlin, Ohio; as of 2020, he is a graduate student in Horn Performance at Manhattan School of Music in New York.  More information about Torrin is available online at https://www.facebook.com/torrin.hallett. Thanks to Torrin for composing “Tropical Tantrum” especially for Virginia Water Radio; to hear the complete piece (28 seconds), please click here.

Click here if you’d like to hear the full version (1 min./11 sec.) of the “Cripple Creek” arrangement/performance by Stewart Scales that opens and closes this episode.  More information about Mr. Scales and the group New Standard, with which Mr. Scales plays, is available online at http://newstandardbluegrass.com.


Map showing the names, dates, and tracks of named Atlantic basin tropical cyclones (tropical storms and hurricanes) in 2019. Map from the National Hurricane Center, “2019 Atlantic Hurricane Season,” online at https://www.nhc.noaa.gov/data/tcr/index.php?season=2019&basin=atl.

Satellite image of Hurricane Dorian, just prior to the storm’s landfall over Cape Hatteras, N.C., on September 6, 2019. Image from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), accessed online at https://www.nesdis.noaa.gov/content/goes-east-sees-dorian-moments-making-landfall-over-cape-hatteras-nc, 5/26/20.


On Tropical Cyclone Preparedness

The following information is quoted from the National Weather Service’s “Hurricane Preparedness Week 2020” list of tips for each day of a week, online at http://www.weather.gov/wrn/hurricane-preparedness#prepweek.

“Day 1 - Determine your risk.
Find out today what types of wind and water hazards could happen where you live, and then start preparing how to handle them. Hurricanes are not just a coastal problem.  Their impacts can be felt hundreds of miles inland, and significant impacts can occur without it being a major hurricane.

“Day 2 - Develop an evacuation plan.
The first thing you need to do is find out if you live in a hurricane evacuation zone.  If you do, now is the time to begin planning where you would go and how you would get there.  You do not need to travel hundreds of miles, but have multiple options.  Your destination could be a friend or relative who doesn’t live in an evacuation zone.  If you live in a well-built home outside the evacuation zone, your safest place may be to remain home.  Be sure to account for your pets in your plan.  As hurricane season approaches, listen to local officials on questions related to how you may need to adjust any evacuation plans based on the latest health and safety guidelines from the CDC [U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] and your local officials.

“Day 3 - Assemble disaster supplies.
You’re going to need supplies not just to get through the storm but for the potentially lengthy and unpleasant aftermath.  Have enough non-perishable food, water and medicine to last each person in your family a minimum of three days.  Electricity and water could be out for at least that long.  You’ll need extra cash, a battery-powered radio and flashlights.  You may need a portable crank or solar-powered USB charger for your cell phones.  The CDC recommends [that] if you need to go to a public shelter, bring at least two cloth face coverings for each person and, if possible, hand sanitizer.  (Children under two years old and people having trouble breathing should not wear face coverings).

“Day 4 – Get an insurance check-up.
Call your insurance company or agent and ask for an insurance check-up to make sure you have enough homeowners insurance to repair or even replace your home.  Don’t forget coverage for your car or boat.  Remember, standard homeowners insurance doesn’t cover flooding.  Whether you’re a homeowner or renter, you’ll need a separate policy for it, and it’s available through your company, agent or the National Flood Insurance Program at floodsmart.gov.  Act now as flood insurance requires a 30-day waiting period.

“Day 5 - Strengthen your home.
If you plan to ride out the storm in your home, make sure it is in good repair and up to local hurricane building code specifications.  Many retrofits are not as costly or time consuming as you may think.  Have the proper plywood, steel or aluminum panels to board up the windows and doors.  Remember, the garage door is the most vulnerable part of the home, so it must be able to withstand the winds.

“Day 6 – Help your neighbor.
Many Americans rely on their neighbors after a disaster, but there are also many ways you can help your neighbors before a hurricane approaches.  Learn about all the different actions you and your neighbors can take to prepare and recover from the hazards associated with hurricanes.  Start the conversation now...[and] remember you may need to adjust your preparedness plans based on the latest health and safety guidelines from the CDC and your local officials.

“Day 7 - Complete a written plan.
The time to prepare for a hurricane is before the season begins, when you have the time and are not under pressure.  If you wait until a hurricane is on your doorstep, the odds are that you will be under duress and will make the wrong decisions.  Take the time now to write down your hurricane plan.  Know who issues evacuation orders for your area, determine locations on where you will ride out the storm, and start to get your supplies now.  Being prepared before a hurricane threatens makes you resilient to the hurricane impacts of wind and water.  It will mean the difference between being a hurricane victim or a hurricane survivor.”

On Tropical Cyclone Names

The following information is quoted from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, “Tropical Cyclone Names,” online at http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/aboutnames.shtml.

“Since 1953, Atlantic tropical storms had been named from lists originated by the National Hurricane Center.  They are now maintained and updated through a strict procedure by an international committee of the World Meteorological Organization [online at http://www.wmo.int/pages/prog/www/tcp/].

“[Six lists] are used in rotation and re-cycled every six years, i.e., the 2019 list will be used again in 2025.  The only time that there is a change in the list is if a storm is so deadly or costly that the future use of its name on a different storm would be inappropriate for reasons of sensitivity.  If that occurs, then at an annual meeting by the WMO committee (called primarily to discuss many other issues) the offending name is stricken from the list and another name is selected to replace it.  Several names have been retired since the lists were created.  [More information on the history of naming tropical cyclones and retired names is available online at https://www.nhc.noaa.gov/aboutnames_history.shtml.]

“If a storm forms in the off-season, it will take the next name in the list based on the current calendar date.  For example, if a tropical cyclone formed on December 28th, it would take the name from the previous season's list of names.  If a storm formed in February, it would be named from the subsequent season's list of names.  In the event that more than twenty-one named tropical cyclones occur in the Atlantic basin in a season, additional storms will take names from the Greek alphabet.”


Used for Audio

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), “NASA Provides in-Depth Analysis of Unusual Tropical Storm Alex,” 1/15/16, online at http://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2016/alex-atlantic-ocean.

National Hurricane Center (NHC):
Main Web page, online at https://www.nhc.noaa.gov/?atlc. This site provides bulletins, maps, and other information on tropical storms as they are occurring.
“Glossary,” online at https://www.nhc.noaa.gov/aboutgloss.shtml. This site includes the wind-scale designations for tropical depression, tropical storm, and hurricane.
“Hurricane Preparedness Week, May 3-9, 2020” online at https://www.weather.gov/wrn/hurricane-preparedness (as of 5/22/20).
“NHC Data Archive,” online at http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/data/.
“Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale,” online at https://www.nhc.noaa.gov/aboutsshws.php.
“2016 Hurricane Alex Advisory Archive,” online at https://www.nhc.noaa.gov/archive/2016/ALEX.shtml?.
“2017 Tropical Storm Arlene Advisory Archive,” online at https://www.nhc.noaa.gov/archive/2017/ARLENE.shtml?.
“2018 Hurricane Florence Advisory Archive,” online at https://www.nhc.noaa.gov/archive/2018/FLORENCE.shtml?.
“2018 Subtropical Storm Alberto Advisory Archive,” online at https://www.nhc.noaa.gov/archive/2018/ALBERTO.shtml?.
“2019 Subtropical Storm Andrea Advisory Archive” online at https://www.nhc.noaa.gov/archive/2019/ANDREA.shtml?.
“2020 Tropical Storm Arthur Advisory Archive,” online at https://www.nhc.noaa.gov/archive/2020/ARTHUR.shtml?.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA):
“Busy Atlantic hurricane season predicted for 2020,” 5/21/20, online at https://www.noaa.gov/media-release/noaa-predicts-near-normal-2019-atlantic-hurricane-season.
“Tropical Cyclone Names,” online at http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/aboutnames.shtml.
“What’s the difference between a hurricane and a typhoon?” online at https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/cyclone.html.

National Weather Service:
“Historic Hurricane Florence, September 12-15, 2018,” online at https://www.weather.gov/mhx/Florence2018.
“Hurricane Safety Tips and Resources,” online at https://www.weather.gov/safety/hurricane.
“Tropical Cyclone Climatology,” online at https://www.nhc.noaa.gov/climo/.

For More Information on Tropical Cyclones and Emergency Preparedness

American Red Cross, “Hurricane Safety,” online at http://www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster/hurricane.

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), “Hurricanes,” online at http://www.ready.gov/hurricanes.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA)/Climate Prediction Center, “Atlantic Hurricane Outlook and Summary Archive,” http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/outlooks/hurricane-archive.shtml.

Virginia Department of Emergency Management “Know Your Zone” Web site for evacuation planning, online at http://www.vaemergency.gov/hurricane-evacuation-zone-lookup/.

Virginia Department of Transportation, “VDOT and Emergency Response” (including hurricane evacuation information), online at http://www.virginiadot.org/about/emer_response.asp.


All Water Radio episodes are listed by category at the Index link above (http://www.virginiawaterradio.org/p/index.html).  See particularly the “Weather/Climate/Natural Disasters” subject category.

Following are links to other episodes on tropical cyclones.

Episode 134, 10-29-12 – Hurricane Sandy and storm surge.
Episode 163, 5-27-13 – annual season-preview episode.
Episode 215, 5-26-14 – annual season-preview episode, with storm names for 2014.
Episode 226, 8-11-14 – mid-season update.
Episode 266, 5-18-15 – annual season-preview episode, with storm names for 2015.
Episode 317, 5-27-16 – annual season-preview episode, with storm names for 2016.
Episode 330, 8-22-16 – mid-season update.
Episode 337, 10-10-16 – Hurricane Matthew and storm surge.
Episode 345, 12-5-16 – season-review episode.
Episode 369, 5-22-17 – annual season-preview episode, with storm names for 2017.
Episode 385, 9-11-17 – Hurricane Irma and storm surge.
Episode 423, 6-2-18 – annual season-preview episode, with storm names for 2018.
Episode 438, 9-17-18 – basic hurricane facts and history.
Episode 474, 5-27-19 – annual season-preview episode, with storm names for 2019.

Following are other music pieces composed by Torrin Hallett for Virginia Water Radio, with episodes featuring the music.

“Beetle Ballet” – used in Episode 525, 5-18-20, on aquatic beetles.
“Corona Cue” – used in Episode 517, 3-23-20, on the coronavirus pandemic.
“Geese Piece” – used most recently in Episode 440, 10-1-18, on E-bird.
“Lizard Lied” – used in Episode 514, 3-2-20, on lizards.
“New Year’s Water” – used in Episode 349, 1-2-17, on the New Year.
“Rain Refrain” – used most recently in Episode 455, 1-14-19, on record Virginia precipitation in 2019.
“Spider Strike” – used in Episode 523, 5-4-20, on fishing spiders.
“Turkey Tune” – used in Episode 343, 11-21-16, on the Wild Turkey.

Following are some Virginia Standards of Learning (SOLs) that may be supported by this episode’s audio/transcript, sources of information, or other materials in the Show Notes.

2013 Music SOLs

SOLs at various grade levels that call for “examining the relationship of music to the other fine arts and other fields of knowledge.”

2010 Science SOLs

Grades K-6 Earth/Space Interrelationships Theme
2.6 – identification of common storms and other weather phenomena.
4.6 – weather conditions, phenomena, and measurements.
5.6 – characteristics of the ocean environment.

Grades K-6 Living Systems Theme
6.7 – natural processes and human interactions that affect watershed systems; Va. watersheds, water bodies, and wetlands; health and safety issues; and water monitoring.

Grades K-6 Matter Theme
6.6 – Properties of air (including pressure, temperature, and humidity) and structure/dynamics of earth’s atmosphere.

Life Science Course
LS.10 - changes over time in ecosystems, communities, and populations, and factors affecting those changes, including climate changes and catastrophic disturbances.
LS.11 – relationships between ecosystem dynamics and human activity.

Earth Science Course
ES.11 – origin, evolution, and dynamics of the atmosphere, including human influences on climate.
ES.12 – energy, atmosphere, weather, and climate.

Biology Course
BIO.8 – dynamic equilibria and interactions within populations, communities, and ecosystems; including nutrient cycling, succession, effects of natural events and human activities, and analysis of the flora, fauna, and microorganisms of Virginia ecosystems.

2015 Social Studies SOLs

Civics and Economics Course
CE.6 – government at the national level.

World Geography Course
WG.2 - how selected physical and ecological processes shape the Earth’s surface, including climate, weather, and how humans influence their environment and are influenced by it.

Government Course
GOVT.7 – national government organization and powers.

Virginia’s SOLs are available from the Virginia Department of Education, online at http://www.doe.virginia.gov/testing/.

Following are links to Water Radio episodes (various topics) designed especially for certain K-12 grade levels.

Episode 250, 1-26-15 – on boiling, for kindergarten through 3rd grade.
Episode 255, 3-2-15 – on density, for 5th and 6th grade.
Episode 282, 9-21-15 – on living vs. non-living, for kindergarten.
Episode 309, 3-28-16 – on temperature regulation in animals, for kindergarten through 12th grade.
Episode 333, 9-12-16 – on dissolved gases, especially dissolved oxygen in aquatic habitats, for 5th grade.
Episode 403, 1-15-18 – on freezing and ice, for kindergarten through 3rd grade.
Episode 404, 1-22-18 – on ice on ponds and lakes, for 4th through 8th grade.
Episode 406, 2-5-18 – on ice on rivers, for middle school.
Episode 407, 2-12-18 – on snow chemistry and physics, for high school.
Episode 483, 7-29-19 – on buoyancy and drag, for middle school and high school.
Episode 524, 5-11-20 – on sounds by water-related animals, for elementary school through high school.