1126: Epsilon and Zeta
Randall is imagining the situation in the National Hurricane Center towards the end of 2005 (and the 2005 hurricane season). The monospaced text in most of the panels is material taken from actual NHC reports  from that season. The commentary has been edited to fit the comic's format, but it's otherwise faithful to the actual reports.
The last report of the 2005 season was issued on January 6, 2006.
A full analysis of the 2005 hurricane season can be found here.
Sources for quotes
Not atypical of Randall's sense of humor, the quotes in this comic came from real weather advisories.
"<...> MORNING SATELLITE IMAGES INDICATE THAT EPSILON HAS RESTRENGTHENED. <...> THERE ARE NO CLEAR REASONS...AND I AM NOT GOING TO MAKE ONE UP...TO EXPLAIN THE RECENT STRENGTHENING OF EPSILON AND I AM JUST DESCRIBING THE FACTS. HOWEVER...I STILL HAVE TO MAKE AN INTENSITY FORECAST AND THE BEST BET AT THIS TIME IS TO PREDICT WEAKENING <...> EPSILON WILL LIKELY BECOME A REMNANT LOW. I HEARD THAT BEFORE ABOUT EPSILON...HAVEN'T YOU?"
"WE HAVE SAID THIS BEFORE <...> BUT EPSILON REALLY DOES NOT APPEAR AS STRONG THIS EVENING AS IT DID THIS AFTERNOON." (this is likely the only case where the text was changed a bit from its original meaning. The original quote reads: "WE HAVE SAID THIS BEFORE AT TIMES DURING THE PAST SEVERAL NIGHTS... ONLY TO HAVE EPSILON MAKE A COMEBACK THE FOLLOWING MORNING... BUT EPSILON REALLY DOES NOT APPEAR AS STRONG THIS EVENING AS IT DID THIS AFTERNOON.")
Missing Zeta quotes TBD
- Caption: The 2005 atlantic hurricane season saw devastating storms like Katrina and Rita. But less well-remembered is just how strange the season got toward the end. The forecasters at the National Hurricane Center are the best of the best. Their predictions are masterpieces of professional analysis. But in November 2005, out in the center of the Atlantic -- far from any land -- the atmosphere stopped making sense. And the forcasters -- who'd expected the season to be long over by now -- started to get a little ... unhinged. This is their story, as seen through the actual 2005 NHC advisories:
- Tuesday, November 29th, 2005:
- Tropical storm Epsilon... The 26th named storm of apparently never ending 2005 Atlantic hurricane season.
- 10 PM Wed: The window of opportunity for strengthening should close in 12-24 hr.
- 4 PM Thu: Slow but steady weakening is expected to begin in 12-23 hours.
- 4 AM Fri: Epsilon does not appear weaker.
- 10 AM Fri: Epsilon has been upgraded to a 65-kt hurricane.
- 4 PM Sat: Epsilon has continued to strengthen against all odds ... [but] can not maintain the current intensity much longer since the environment is becoming increasingly unfavorable.
- 10 PM Sat: Epsilon might or might not still be a hurricane ... but in any case it likely will not be one on Sunday.
- 4 AM Sun: Epsilon is downgraded to a tropical storm.
- 10 AM Sun: Morning satellite images indicate that Epsilon has restrengthened.
- There are no clear reasons ... and I am not going to make one up ... to explain the recent strengthening of Epsilon and I am just describing the facts.
- However ... I still have to make an intensity forecast and the best bet at this time is to predict weakening ... Epsilon will likely become a remnant low.
- I heard that before about Epsilon ... haven't you?
- 4 PM Mon: The cloud pattern continues to be a remarkably well-organized for a hurricane at such high latitude in December.
- 10 PM Mon: We have said this before ... but Epsilon really does not appear as strong this evening as it did this afternoon.
- 4 AM Tue: I have run out of things to say.
- 10 PM Tue: The end is in sight. It really really is. But in the meantime ... Epsilon continues to maintain hurricane status.
- 4 AM Wed: The end is in sight ... yes ... but not quite yet. I thought I was going to find a weakening system and instead I found that Epsilon is still a hurricane.
- 10 AM Thu: Convection has vanished and Epsilon is now a tight swirl of low clouds.
- I hope this is the end of the long lasting 2005 hurricane season.
- ENTER TROPICAL STORM ZETA
- Friday, December 30th, 2005: An elongated area of low pressure ... which had its origins in an old frontal trough ... began developing organized convection overnight. Advisories are initiated on the 27th tropical storm of 2005.
- ANY NEW STORMS WOULD BE IN THE 2006 SEASON
- 4 PM Fri: Although the atmosphere seems to want to develop tropical storms ad nauseam ... the calendar will shortly put an end to the use of the Greek alphabet to name them.
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