In May we told you about the Colorado State University Tropical Meteorology Project at Colorado State University (CSU), who every April forecast how many hurricanes we will have. 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 called for a total of 13 named storms, five hurricanes and two major hurricanes. This is near the 30-year average of 12 named storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes.
On August 8th the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued a statement saying their forecasters monitoring oceanic and atmospheric patterns say conditions are now more favorable for above-normal hurricane activity since El Nino has now ended.
Seasonal forecasters with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center have increased the likelihood of an above-normal Atlantic hurricane season to 45% (up from 30% from the outlook issued in May). The likelihood of near-normal activity is now at 35%, and the chance of below-normal activity has dropped to 20%.
The number of predicted storms is also greater with NOAA now expecting 10-17 named storms (winds of 39 mph or greater), of which 5-9 will become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or greater), including 2-4 major hurricanes (winds of 111 mph or greater). This updated outlook is for the entire six-month hurricane season, which ends Nov. 30.
NOAA also announced that the current El Nino in the Pacific Ocean has ended and neutral conditions have returned. “El Nino typically suppresses Atlantic hurricane activity but now that it’s gone, we could see a busier season ahead,” said Gerry Bell, Ph.D., lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. “This evolution, combined with the more conducive conditions associated with the ongoing high-activity era for Atlantic hurricanes that began in 1995, increases the likelihood of above-normal activity this year.”
On average, the Atlantic hurricane season produces 12 named storms, of which six become hurricanes, including three major hurricanes. NOAA’s hurricane season outlook is for overall seasonal activity and is not a landfall forecast. Landfalls are largely determined by short-term weather patterns, which are only predictable within about a week of a storm potentially reaching a coastline.
Pete Gaynor, acting FEMA administrator, said “we urge everyone to learn more about hurricane hazards and prepare now, ahead of time, so that if state and local authorities announce evacuations in advance of a storm, you and your family will have planned where to go and what to do to stay safe.”