A team of Chinese scientists modeled a ‘space hurricane’ on observations taken in 2014. CONTRIBUTED

Earlier this week, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said it will meet this spring to decide whether or not to start the Atlantic hurricane season — which typically begins on June 1 — earlier. Insiders say the idea being considered is for a May 15 start. 

It makes sense. Over the past six years, the first storms of the season have formed before June 1. In 2020, Tropical Storm Arthur formed on May 16. In 2019, Subtropical Storm Andrea got its act together by May 20. In 2018, Tropical Storm Albert came to life on May 25. 

“This shift is going to take a little time,” said National Weather Service’s Jon Rizzo. 

Rizzo said NOAA can’t just “call it,” the agency needs buy-in from other countries that will be affected and the supervisory agency of the World Meteorological Organization. 

What will happen this year, though, is an earlier start to Tropical Weather Outlook reports. Those will begin May 15 and are designed to keep tabs on disturbances that might develop. In 2020, NOAA issued 36 of those. 

And then there are space hurricanes. Oh, yes. Earlier this week, a Chinese scientist released modeling of observations taken in 2014 over the North Pole. The storm they analyzed was reportedly 1,000 kilometers across and was “raining electrons” as it turned counterclockwise. 

This ought to be pretty exciting news at NOAA’s Space Weather Center in Colorado. Yes, it exists. According to Rizzo, their job is to monitor the sun, watching for solar flares that can cause electromagnetic storms. The discovery of the space hurricane has the same implications as solar flares on Earth — messed-up electric power transmission, plus jinky radio, satellite and GPS connections.

The good news, Rizzo said, is that those stellar disruptions don’t have as much affect in the Keys. The impacts, he said, are felt more in the upper part of the U.S. and Canada. No word yet on the formation of a space hurricane season.

Sara Matthis thinks community journalism is important, but not serious; likes weird and wonderful children (she has two); and occasionally tortures herself with sprint-distance triathlons, but only if she has a good chance of beating her sister.