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Fantastically Wet Weather and a Fantasy Forecast for Hurricane Season

The Long-Range Forecast for Hurricane Season 2019, a New Competition, and Wet Weeks
By JON COEN | May 15, 2019
Photo by: Trevor Murphy A crew of local boys just scored on a boat trip to Indonesia. Now they're home and wishing for better weather and waves with the rest of us.

Hey, you found us over here in Section II. Awesome. Can you please take off your jacket and boots? You're dripping all over the place.

Well, that was just a fantastic weekend. I hope everyone got to celebrate a traditional Mother’s Day of cozying around the fireplace and singing Mother’s Day carols before layering up with a waterproof and an insulating layer to take Mom out into the howling wind and buckets of rain. Hot cocoa, anyone?

For the record, that is why you don’t plant your summer veg garden before Mother’s Day, no matter when the second Sunday falls. It still boggles my mind that we think of “spring” as something positive and cheerful. The wind chill on LBI Monday morning was 40 as we’re all trying to prepare for a summer that’s coming whether we get springtime or not.

The rain stopped for two hours on Monday. I was waiting for the drought advisory.

And while we’re on the subject of wind and water, Hurricane Season Forecasts are out for 2019.

This is the part where I would say “drum roll, please …” But I don’t need a drum roll. Let’s save the dramatics. How about an eggroll?

Each spring, the tropical weather experts get together, pore over hundreds of years of records, examine current data from around the globe and come up with their best predictions of what the upcoming season will bring.

Or maybe they just look at some averages and flip a coin? Heads it will be an average season, tails it will be below average and if the coin rolls off the desk, then they tell us to start filling sandbags.

The big odds makers are Tropical Storm Risk, Colorado State University, Accuweather, NC State and the Weather Channel, all looking into crystal balls to tell us what the weather is going to be like … on Sept. 10.

This year, they’re telling us it will be an average year. Some say slightly higher than average. Some say slightly lower than average. So then we take an average of all the averages and put them together. I’m sure there’s a term for that, but I was miserable at math, so I never got that far. But across all these sources, the median is looking like about 13 named storms with six hurricanes and three major hurricanes.

It’s easy to rag on these egg-headed data crunchers who mostly live in landlocked states and wouldn’t know the first thing about hiking three blocks in muck boots to the highest spot in the neighborhood where you parked your car before a storm, but in reality, it’s a complicated job.

So what the hell, I figure I’ll just put my own crystal balls out on the table. Here’s the JC forecast for Hurricane Season 2019. (What’s taking so long with that eggroll?)

I predict that we will have 16 named storms. Ten of those will become hurricanes. And I’m going to take it a step farther. Starting at the end of July, we will have about one tropical storm or hurricane each week. There will be no major storms and none will make landfall. Each storm will form somewhere between the Cape Verde Islands and the Caribbean, then sweep up to the northwest, eventually taking a northerly track and delivering surf to the islands and the East Coast. They will all stall out east of Long Island, just far enough so that we are in the southwest quadrant and have straight offshore winds. They will sit for a few days and then stroll out to the North Atlantic.

No one will have their garage flooded this season. Each storm will send clean swell (not super long period) back to LBI. They’ll never get close enough to threaten landfall and as each storm heads away, we will get a combination of the fading and rising swell.

I mean, that’s what we want to hear, isn’t it?

But in reality, there are so many factors at play, I have no idea how they can come up with concrete numbers. This year, the science dudes are taking the development of an El Niño pattern into consideration. Not to get into the whole phenomenon of the water temp in the Pacific, but when El Niño is present, winds in the tropical Atlantic don’t tend to lie down like they do in normal years. You might think that would lead to more storms, but it’s the opposite. Trade winds are separate from hurricanes. They actually inhibit tropical storm formation.

It’s hard to think of hurricane season in objective terms. 2017 was a banger hurricane season for us, but the folks in the Caribbean may not remember it as such because they took the beating while we scored waves. But at any rate, we’ll be keeping an eye on things. May and June storms, if they form, tend to not be terribly strong but also close to the East Coast. We’ll watch for what’s brewin’.

A NEW KIND OF COMP:The competition season is back underway in New Jersey. The Eastern Surfing Association Central New Jersey chapter is already a few events into the season. But last Saturday saw something of an exhibition for what could be a new type of event in New Jersey.

The South Jersey Boardriders contest took place in Atlantic City on Saturday in decent 2- to 3-foot surf. This is a brand new event and brand new format, modeled off the Australian tradition of boardriders clubs where each coastal town has a club of surfers and competes against others. In this event, it was each of the eight barrier islands in South Jersey competing against each other with one surfer each 14 and under, 15-19, over 20, over 30, over 40, over 50 and one female of any age. Randy Townsend, Harvey Cedars Beach Patrol captain, pro surfer and director of the NSSA Northeast, was the local team’s captain.

LBI was the most northern barrier island, and we were represented by Mason Lessor, Pete Machotka, Townsend, Jamie Whitesell, Paul Boardman and Kali Emery. In the end, our locals took fourth place out of eight teams. Ocean City was the big winner. Those towns around Ocean City and Atlantic City have always had very strong foundations for surf competition.

LBI had to borrow an under-15 surfer from Ocean City since we don’t have many and the one who was lined up had to work. There is already talk of how to start grooming some kids to surf more.

“It was slightly different format from Oz, but the same level of excitement and pressure,” reported Barnegat Light’s Boardman, who grew up surfing this type of competition in Australia. “The contest was great, and I was stoked to be involved.”

Could this be the start of some new point of pride for LBI surfers? Look for more events of this kind as the South Jersey Boardriders look to secure nonprofit organization status and run more events.

HOLD THE OIL: Thankfully, the plan to move ahead with offshore drilling has been put on hold.  After announcing aggressive plans to open 90 percent of the U.S. coast to new oil drilling, the Trump administration is going to delay moving ahead with its plans.

What brought about this change of heart? I wondered if someone upstairs was able to explain to Mr. Trump that most coastal states don’t want to drill for oil because of the risk it causes to the environment and potentially the economy.

But that’s not the case. It was a federal judge who ruled that Trump’s executive order to lift the ban on oil and gas drilling in the Atlantic and Arctic oceans was an overreach.

The majority of Americans know that climate change is real and it’s directly linked to the amount of fossil fuels we burn. Taking more oil out of the ground will only increase our problems.

Fortunately, (well, depends how you look at it) it would seem that Orange 45 has become too interested in Twitter wars and trade wars to push ahead. So no big worries this summer about sea floor testing or oil derricks off the coast. But I’m sure an appeal is imminent.

SAVING SPRING: I don’t know that anyone locally was too happy with the waves and weather before this mid-week sunshine, warm-up and surf cleanup.

The ocean temp continues its slow crawl northward. So the saving grace has been that while the waves have been flat or the wind wrong while we’re not surfing, at least the water is warming up. If it was warmer than average earlier this spring, it’s basically back to average now, thanks to chilly weather patterns. But you can likely lose the gloves, and that’s a big plus this time of year.

We’ve been hurting for waves since April. Tuesday, May 7, had a few decent peaks with light onshore winds. It’s easy to say this has been a miserable spring of cold and rain, but the reality is this is about average. Just when we need the weather for a good start to the business season and nice weather to get things done outside at our homes and businesses, it basically all goes to crap.

The good news is that the second half of May tends to be exponentially better than the first half. The marshes are finally turning green from their full winter brown. Mid-May to mid-July has always been a fantastic time of year here. It still doesn’t hold a candle to September, but eventually (I hope) we’ll get back to days in the 70s. Let’s just hope we get more than one and we don’t go from fireplace to air conditioning in a matter of minutes.

OTHER LOCAL HAPS: The boys scored. Yep, a crew of local boys just did a sold boat trip to Indonesia, and they got it insanely good in the Mentawais. Danny Mears, Ben Raimo, Mike Rogers, Ryan Corcoran, Mason Lessor, Otto Weiler, Mason Lessor, Mike Roth, Dan Muller, Ken Burkhardt and Moose Carey hit all those dreamy spots we’ve seen in magazines and videos and got barreled off their gourds with Bingtang Surf Charters.

“I've been looking forward to the Indonesian surf trip my whole life and it exceeded all expectations,” said commercial fisherman Danny Mears of Barnegat Light. “It was the ultimate surf trip, and to share it with a great group of friends will surely be unforgettable. I will be looking forward to going back and having another go at the surf. I will say it was a bit humbling see Mother Nature in all her glory.”

Every week I say the Island is moving a little closer to summer, but then every week it feels like we’re slipping back toward February.

This weekend is Beach Haven’s Seafood Festival and Night Market. The weather actually looks to hold out.

For those interested in New Jersey surfing then and now, the New Jersey Surfing Hall of Fame will hold its 2019 Induction Ceremony on May 31. At this year’s event, longtime LBI photographer Michael Baytoff will be inducted. You can buy tickets to the event, which is at the Algonquin Theatre in Manasquan.

June 1 is Hop Sauce Fest, which is going to be at Veterans Park in Beach Haven again this year. I don’t know about you, but I definitely liked the feel of the trees last year. The morning of, South-End Surf ’N Paddle will have the Hop Sauce Tune Up on the Taylor Avenue waterfront, also in Beach Haven, at 9 a.m.

Looking ahead at the events deep into summer, the Jetty Coquina Jam is July 28 this year, which promises to be even bigger and better than last year’s record-breaking event and fundraiser for David’s Dream and Believe Cancer Foundation. With the field expanding, there will be a bigger party at the team selection at the Jetty Flagship Store in Manahawkin on July 18.

Beyond that, Alliance for a Living Ocean now has its LBI Longboard Classic on the calendar for Aug.10. Mark your calendar for these.

For now, let’s hang in there and hope we can have at least one or two beach days and dinner on the deck before the Island becomes a parking lot. We deserve it.

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