Published on August 13th, 2012 | by Joshua S Hill
NOAA Increases Hurricane Season Predictions Despite Oncoming El Nino
The Atlantic hurricane season has already gotten off to a flyer, with six named storms already, and according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, may have a pretty hectic second half as well. As a result, the NOAA have updated their hurricane season outlook.
The updated outlook still indicates a 50 percent chance of a near-normal season, but has increased the chance of an above-normal season to 35 percent and decreased the chance of a below-normal season to just 15 percent. (The original stats the NOAA released can be found here.)
Across the entire Atlantic Basin for the season – June 1 to November 30 – NOAA’s updated seasonal outlook projects a total (which includes the activity-to-date of tropical storms Alberto, Beryl, Debbie, Florence and hurricanes Chris and Ernesto) of:
- 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)
This is an update on the predictions released in late May of this year of;
- 9-15 named storms
- 4-8 hurricanes
- 1-3 major hurricanes
An average Atlantic hurricane season will produce 12 named storms, six hurricanes, and three major hurricanes.
“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.”
Surprisingly, NOAA is also predicting El Niño will likely develop in August or September of this year.
“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.
“We have a long way to go until the end of the season, and we shouldn’t let our guard down,” said Laura Furgione, acting director of NOAA’s National Weather Service. “Hurricanes often bring dangerous inland flooding as we saw a year ago in the Northeast with Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee. Even people who live hundreds of miles from the coast need to remain vigilant through the remainder of the season.”
“It is never too early to prepare for a hurricane,” said Tim Manning, FEMA’s deputy administrator for protection and national preparedness. “We are in the middle of hurricane season and now is the time to get ready. There are easy steps you can take to get yourself and your family prepared. Visit www.ready.gov to learn more.”