While we might still be waiting for a storm delivering significant surf to the US East Coast a relatively busy start to the season is likely to continue with the NOAA issuing a forecast for an above normal season.
“We are increasing the likelihood of an above-normal season because storm-conducive wind patterns and warmer-than-normal sea surface temperatures are now in place in the Atlantic,” said Gerry Bell, Ph.D., lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at the Climate Prediction Center. “These conditions are linked to the ongoing high activity era for Atlantic hurricanes that began in 1995. Also, strong early-season activity is generally indicative of a more active season.”
To counter these positive factors the likelihood of a developing El Nino is a factor in the forecast:
“El Niño is a competing factor, because it strengthens the vertical wind shear over the Atlantic, which suppresses storm development. However, we don’t expect El Niño’s influence until later in the season,” Bell said.
To conclude the latest outlook calls for:
- 12 to 17 named storms (top winds of 39 mph or higher), including:
- 5 to 8 hurricanes (top winds of 74 mph or higher), of which:
- 2 to 3 could be major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of at least 111 mph)
and a 35% chance of an above average season.
The full NOAA update is available here.