For over thirty years, every spring, weather forecasters and weather watchers wait to hear from the Colorado State University Tropical Meteorology Project at Colorado State University (CSU) about how many hurricanes we will have that season. Many meteorologists consider them to be the most credible and comprehensive forecast out there. In April they released their latest forecast predicting near average activity this year.
The group led by Dr. Phil Klotzbach and other experts from Colorado State University calls for a total of 16 named storms, eight of which will become major hurricanes. An average season has 12 tropical storms, six of which are hurricanes. In 2019, there were 18 named storms, six of which were hurricanes.
The official Atlantic hurricane season runs from June through November.
The CSU outlook is based on more than 30 years of statistical predictors, combined with seasons exhibiting similar features of sea-level pressure and sea-surface temperatures in the Atlantic and eastern Pacific Oceans.
A major determining factors in hurricane forecasting is whether we are in an El Niño or La Niña climate pattern.
The terms El Niño and La Niña refer to periodic changes in Pacific Ocean sea surface temperatures that have impacts on weather all over the globe. El Niño is a natural warming of tropical Pacific Ocean water, which tends to suppress the development of Atlantic hurricanes. Its opposite, La Niña, marked by cooler ocean water, tends to increase hurricanes in the Atlantic.
“One of the reasons for the above-average seasonal hurricane forecast from CSU is due to the likely lack of El Niño this summer/fall,” Klotzbach tweeted Thursday. “El Niño generally increases vertical wind shear in the Atlantic, tearing apart hurricanes.”
Colorado State forecasters will update their predictions three times over the next few months.
AccuWeather also released its hurricane forecast predicting that 14-18 named storms would form, of which seven to nine will be hurricanes. The firm said two to four are likely to hit the U.S.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will issue its forecast in late May.
The World Meteorological Organization is responsible for developing the names for both Northern Pacific and Atlantic storms. They use six lists of names for Atlantic Ocean and Eastern North Pacific storms. These lists rotate, one each year. This year’s names are: Arthur, Bertha, Cristobal, Dolly, Edouard, Fay, Gonzalo, Hanna, Isaias, Josephine, Kyle, Laura, Marco, Nana, Omar, Paulette, Rene, Sally, Teddy, Vicky and Wilfred.