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Observed Relationships Between Lunar Tidal Cycles and Formation of Hurricanes and Tropical Storms

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  • 1 Meteorological Statistics Group, NOAA, Silver Spring, Md.
  • | 2 Experimental Meteorology Laboratory, NOAA, Coral Gables, Fla.
  • | 3 University of Miami, Coral Gables, Fla.
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Abstract

To examine the hypothesis of a worldwide relation between some lunar periods and tropical disturbances, we collected first-formation dates for 1,013 hurricanes and typhoons and 2,418 tropical storms in both hemispheres. Using the superposed epoch method, we found a lunar synodic cycle (29.53 days) in North Atlantic hurricane and northwest Pacific typhoon formation dates. About 20 percent more hurricanes and typhoons formed near new and full moon than near the quarters during a 78-yr period, showing a stronger peak at new moon than at full moon. Statistically, the existence of an effect dependent on the lunar synodic cycle is supported by a significance level of 7 percent on unsmoothed data from an analysis of variance for categorical data.

During the same 78 yr. North Atlantic tropical storms that did not later become hurricanes tended to form near the lunar quarters. Several other categories of tropical storms were not clearly related to the synodic month. Severe tropical storms in two portions of the Indian Ocean over 75 yr formed more often several days after syzygy and quadrature, but this and other severe tropical storm results lack definition, probably due to poor data.

Theoretical calculations of the lunar-solar gravitational tide showed that the anomalistic lunar cycle affects only the amplitude and not the timing of extrema. No marked anomalistic or latitude components in hurricane formation were found.

Now affiliated with Center for Experiment Design and Data Analysis, NOAA, Rockville, Md.

Abstract

To examine the hypothesis of a worldwide relation between some lunar periods and tropical disturbances, we collected first-formation dates for 1,013 hurricanes and typhoons and 2,418 tropical storms in both hemispheres. Using the superposed epoch method, we found a lunar synodic cycle (29.53 days) in North Atlantic hurricane and northwest Pacific typhoon formation dates. About 20 percent more hurricanes and typhoons formed near new and full moon than near the quarters during a 78-yr period, showing a stronger peak at new moon than at full moon. Statistically, the existence of an effect dependent on the lunar synodic cycle is supported by a significance level of 7 percent on unsmoothed data from an analysis of variance for categorical data.

During the same 78 yr. North Atlantic tropical storms that did not later become hurricanes tended to form near the lunar quarters. Several other categories of tropical storms were not clearly related to the synodic month. Severe tropical storms in two portions of the Indian Ocean over 75 yr formed more often several days after syzygy and quadrature, but this and other severe tropical storm results lack definition, probably due to poor data.

Theoretical calculations of the lunar-solar gravitational tide showed that the anomalistic lunar cycle affects only the amplitude and not the timing of extrema. No marked anomalistic or latitude components in hurricane formation were found.

Now affiliated with Center for Experiment Design and Data Analysis, NOAA, Rockville, Md.

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