Officials: Prepare now, season starts Thursday
Forecasters at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center say the Atlantic could see another above-normal hurricane season this year.
For the upcoming Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1 through November 30, forecasters predict a 45 percent chance of an above-normal season, a 35 percent chance of a near-normal season, and only a 20 percent chance of a below-normal season.
Forecasters predict a 70 percent likelihood of 11 to 17 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 5 to 9 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 2 to 4 major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of 111 mph or higher).
An average season produces 12 named storms of which six become hurricanes, including three major hurricanes.
These numbers include Tropical Storm Arlene, a rare pre-season storm that formed over the eastern Atlantic in April.
“The outlook reflects our expectation of a weak or non-existent El Nino, near- or above-average sea-surface temperatures across the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, and average or weaker-than-average vertical wind shear in that same region,” said Gerry Bell, Ph.D., lead seasonal hurricane forecaster with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.
Strong El Ninos and wind shear typically suppress development of Atlantic hurricanes, so the prediction for weak conditions points to more hurricane activity this year. Also, warmer sea surface temperatures tend to fuel hurricanes as they move across the ocean.
However, the climate models are showing considerable uncertainty, which is reflected in the comparable probabilities for an above-normal and near-normal season.
"Regardless of how many storms develop this year, it only takes one to disrupt our lives," said Acting FEMA Administrator Robert J. Fenton, Jr. "Get ready now. Have a family discussion about what you will do, where you will go and how you will communicate with each other when a storm threatens. Know your evacuation route; tune into your local news or download the FEMA app to get alerts, and finally – listen to local authorities as a storm approaches.”
The 2017 season follows the deadliest and costliest in over 10 years for the Atlantic basin. The 2016 season was the most active since 2012, with 15 named storms, including 7 hurricanes and 4 major hurricanes.
A couple of classic examples of why you need to be prepared each year occurred in 1992 and 1983.
The 1992 season produced only six named storms and one subtropical storm. However, one of those named storms was Hurricane Andrew, which devastated South Florida as a Category 5 hurricane.
In 1983 there were only four named storms, but one of them was Alicia. The Category 3 hurricane hit the Houston-Galveston area and caused almost as many direct fatalities there as Andrew did in South Florida.
In contrast, the 2010 season was active. There were 19 named storms and 12 hurricanes that formed in the Atlantic Basin. But despite the large number of storms that year, not a single hurricane and only one tropical storm made landfall in the United States.
In other words, a season can deliver many storms, but have little impact, or deliver few storms and have one or more hitting the U.S. coast with major impact.
NOAA will update this outlook in early August, just prior to the peak of the season.
Posted on Tue, May 30, 2017
by The Lafourche Gazette