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BY GEORGE: Hurricane Outlook and Discussion
Submitted by George Elliott on Sun, 06/02/2013 - 8:58am.
Here we are again into another official hurricane season. I’d like to expand on the current forecasts that are circulating, and add my scientific perspective to what I believe will ultimately be the type of season it will be.
The first word that comes to mind is “active.” Yes, another season of well above normal tropical weather activity will be with us in the Atlantic Basin into the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico.
The official forecast from The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) calls for between 13 and 20 named storms, i.e., tropical storms (39 mph sustained winds or great) or stronger. The group also predicts between 7 and 11 hurricanes (sustained winds 74 mph or higher), three to six of those becoming powerful category three or higher (111 mph sustained winds or higher).
Those are quite some ranges, owing to NOAA’s more conservative approach to long-term forecasting. The group from Colorado State University (Dr. Gray’s people) also have an active season forecast, with some 18 named storms likely they say, nine of which are likely to become hurricanes, and four of those category three of higher.
I concur with the active season we are likely to have. I believe we will have about 17-21 named storms, with about 10 of them becoming hurricanes, while four could be the strong category three or higher type storms. Sometimes the actual observed numbers are skewed due to short-lived brief tropical storms and/or hurricanes that form over the open waters, and no one really even hears much about. That’s happened the past couple of years. At any rate, look for a lot of activity.
This years’ pattern that is conducive to an active season include an active monsoon thunderstorm and rainy season over the western parts of Africa, which thunderstorm disturbances move off of into the eastern Atlantic setting the stage to potential tropical formation as the disturbances move west across the ocean.
In addition, average sea surface temperatures are running above normal for much of the Atlantic into the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. Tropical systems feed on waters of 80 degrees or higher, and there’s plenty of that again this year.
There is also lower than average air pressures that are dominating the Atlantic Basin this year. This can lead to easier formation of lower pressure disturbances which could become tropical storms and potentially hurricanes.
Lastly, the water temperatures over the eastern Pacific are close to the long-term averages. This being said, when water temperatures are in this range, the subsequent upper air circulation over that region, and extending over much of North America and Atlantic Basis does not inhibit the flow necessary for tropical formation. During periods of unusually warm eastern Pacific water (El Nino), upper air conditions are not favorable to tropical development over the Atlantic Basin.
All this said, no one knows where any storm will travel until once it’s formed, so if you ask who will be hit, if anybody, all we can say at this point is that the chances are pretty high the U.S. will be hit. But, we’ve had very active years with no land falling storms as well. Let’s hope for one of those kind of years.
By: George Elliott