An above-average hurricane season – meaning more intense storms – and more of them – is likely.
That’s a slight up-tick from earlier predictions about this year’s season. WHQR’s Rachel Lewis Hilburn reports that experts at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration say several new factors are coming into play.
A normal Atlantic hurricane season produces about 12 named storms, six hurricanes, and three major hurricanes.
But Dr. Gerry Bell, lead seasonal forecaster at NOAA’s climate prediction center, says storm-conducive wind patterns and warmer-than-normal ocean temperatures are having an effect.
“The updated predicted ranges are 12-17 named storms, of which 5-8 are expected to become hurricanes. And 2-3 of those are expected to become major hurricanes.”
Forecasters also expected El Niño – which suppresses storm development –to be a factor earlier in the game.
“Now we have a high confidence that El Nino will develop this month or next – but also that its influence on the hurricane activity will be delayed until later in the season. This is another reason why we’re increasing the likelihood of an above-normal season.”
Laura Furgione, Acting Director of the National Weather Service, says she worries that because the East Coast hasn’t seen a major hurricane in years, complacency could scuttle plans for hurricane readiness.
“The preparedness that folks take is often directly correlated with their experiences and the things that they remember… It only takes one hurricane, and we can’t determine where that’s going to be or when it’s going to occur.”