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Top Five Things to Know for Summer 2013

1. Hurricane Season Ramping Up August through September

"July is an unusual month," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dan Kottlowski. "The tropics don't typically become that active. Early season tropical development is not from true tropic systems."

Water temperatures, westerly winds and African dust are the main components that create the formation of a tropical system. Right now, the water temperatures, strong westerly winds and prevalence of African dust are preventing tropical storms from forming. In Africa right now, water temperatures are still relatively cool and not warm enough to create the necessary environment for tropical development, however, heading into the late summer and early fall the water temperatures will increase. This increase becomes a more positive influence for tropical development out in the ocean as the spring non-tropical waves from Africa begin to transition into tropical waves in August and September and become the driving force behind tropical development out in the ocean. The longer a tropical system is out in the ocean's warm water the more time it has to develop and become a bigger and more dangerous storm.

2. AccuWeather Hurricane Season Forecast

Tropical Storm Andrea was the first of the season this year, pounding Florida with torrential rainfall in the beginning of June. AccuWeather meteorologists predict that no part of the coast will be safe this season, as there probably will not be a storm with one direct path. The storms could be anywhere from the Gulf Coast to the East Coast. "We expect two more direct impacts on the U.S. this season," said AccuWeather Expert Senior Meteorologist, Dan Kottlowski.

3. The Strength of the Summer Sun's UV Rays

Every summer one of the biggest concerns and controversies is sun exposure. Summer days are longer and as a result sun exposure for people outside also increases. During the summer months the UV index is higher due to the sun's rays striking the earth at a greater angle and not bouncing off the atmosphere as they do in the winter," said Expert Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski. However, even in the winter months at higher elevations, such as the Rockies, the UV index can still be higher due to the fact that the air is thinner at higher elevations (think about how thin the air is at the Olympic Training Center). The thinner the air is the stronger the sun's rays are in that location, so the higher the UV index and the less time it takes for sun exposure to cause skin damage. The UV index is at it's highest during summer solstice on Friday, June 21, 2013. In a given day the sun's rays are strongest during the peak daylight hours in midday.

"I always tell my patients to avoid peak hours between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.," said DO, Jennifer Bunch of the Carolina Medical Center - Northeast, one of the largest not-for-profit healthcare systems in the U.S. The easiest way to escape sun damage is to stay out of the sun but if you are outside, especially during peak hours, wearing the proper amount of sunscreen. "Studies show that a majority of people don't put enough sunscreen on in the amounts that are recommended," said Bunch. Studies do show that higher SPFs are in fact more beneficial than lower ones, despite, that common misconception. SPF 70 or higher is the recommended sunscreen, however, even the higher SPFs must still be applied every hour or so if the person is in direct sunlight. To get enough Vitamin D it's suggested to have about 10 minutes of sun exposure a day, however as Bunch tells AccuWeather.com, "Most people get more sun exposure than they think they do by walking in and out of buildings and driving in the car. An article shows that people spend about two hours in the car everyday and they are getting sun damage just by doing that."

Redding of the skin will turn into a tan with time but a tan indicates skin damage, as do freckles. "People freckle when their skin can not tan fast enough to keep up with sun exposure to protect the skin. Permanent freckles can turn into melanoma," said Bunch. Monthly self-exams can help determine and detect suspicious and freckles. Look for shape irregularities and color abnormalities. Keep an eye on the evolution of a new mole and determine if it is growing proportionally bigger than other moles and also watch freckles and moles that are larger in diameter than a pencil eraser.

For more sun safety follow these tips from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention:

- Seek shade during the midday hours.

- Cover up! Apply sunscreen and use clothing to help conceal exposed skin.

- Get a hat to shade your face, scalp, ears and neck all-day long.

- Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes. Sunglasses that wrap around block almost all of the sun's UVA and UVB rays.

- Apply sunscreen generously and frequently with at least SPF 15.

- Don't forget to protect areas of the body that are easily exposed to the sun, such as ears, noses, lips and the tops of feet.

4. The End of Severe Weather Season

Severe weather season or "tornado season" is most common in April, May and June, usually earlier in the spring, when warm clashes of air collide. However, "That is not to say there won't be a time or two when tornadoes will occur during the summer, but the day-after-day type of severe weather is over until at least autumn," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Mike Smith. Tuesday's tornado in Denver was a testament to Smith's point. Last May and June had 232 official tornadoes whereas July and August had only 75 official tornadoes. Despite the customary pop-up tornado during the summer months due to the high pressure systems that have already developed this summer, it's safe to say that "the tornado season has ended for 2013," said Smith.

5. A Potentially Savage Wildfire Season

Even though a large percentage of fires result from man-made causes and it is usually hard to predict how bad the wildfire season will be, this year, "we are expecting a potentially very bad fire season," said AccuWeather Senior Expert Meteorologist Ken Clark. With wildfires already rampaging through areas of the West including California, Utah and Colorado, accompanied by the extreme dry conditions the West has reason for concern. The western region of the country has had wildfires early this year due to the lack of rainfall and snow from the winter and spring seasons. The wettest times of year in this region are typically January, February and early March but the precipitation this year was well below normal. "Rainfall was 15 to 20 percent of the normal rainfall after January 1, 2013 which is incredibly low," said Clark. The lack of precipitation has resulted in very dry vegetation, which can act as accelerant for fire. The worst fire conditions usually come in the late summer and early fall months but this year fire conditions in April were similar to those seen typically in July. With the monsoon season upon us, rain relief could be on the way, however, accompanying that rain is thunderstorms. Thunderstorms mean lightning and again, due to the dry winter, lightning could become a nightmare for the West if it ignites the already dried-out vegetation.

Related:
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Tropical Storm Barry Forms in Southern Gulf of Mexico
Wildfires Ablaze Throughout the West