In the updated outlook, forecasters are now predicting a 60-percent chance of an above-normal season, with 14-19 named storms and 2-5 major hurricanes. NOAA’s initial outlook in May predicted only 45 percent chance of an above-normal season and 2-4 major hurricanes. A prediction for 5-9 hurricanes remains unchanged from the intial May outlook.
NOAA said this season has the potential to be extremely active, and could be the most active since 2010.
“We’re now entering the peak of the season when the bulk of the storms usually form,” said Gerry Bell, Ph.D., lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. “The wind and air patterns in the area of the tropical Atlantic and Caribbean where many storms develop are very conducive to an above-normal season. This is in part because the chance of an El Nino forming, which tends to prevent storms from strengthening, has dropped significantly from May.”
Bell noted other factors that point to an above-normal season include warmer waters across the tropical Atlantic than models previously predicted and higher predicted activity from available models.
In just the first nine weeks of this season there have been six named storms, which is half the number of storms during an average six-month season and double the number of storms that would typically form by early August, according to NOAA. An average Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1-November 30, produces 12 named storms, of which six become hurricanes, including three major hurricanes.
“Today’s updated outlook underscores the need for everyone to know their true vulnerabilities to storms and storm surge,” said FEMA Administrator Brock Long. “As we enter the height of hurricane season, it’s important for everyone to know who issues evacuation orders in their community, heed the warnings, update their insurance and have a preparedness plan.”
The numbers announced today include the season activity to-date.
The Atlantic basin has already seen six named storms (Arlene in April; Bret and Cindy in June; Don and Emily in July; and Franklin in August). Two of these storms, Cindy and Emily, struck the United States, with Cindy making landfall on June 22 at the Louisiana-Texas border and causing heavy rain, inland flooding and multiple tornado outbreaks. Emily made landfall on July 31 in Anna Maria Island, Florida.
Meanwhile, TS Franklin is predicted to make landfall tonight in Mexico as a hurricane.
Today’s update also decreases the chance of a near-normal season from 35 percent to 30 percent, and a below-normal season from 20 percent to only 10 percent from the initial outlook issued in May.