Early-season storms one indicator of active Atlantic hurricane season ahead

NOAA-updateSILVER SPRING, Md., Aug. 9, 2017–The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued its scheduled update for its 2017 hurricane season outlook Aug. 9.

Forecasters are now predicting a higher likelihood of an above-normal season and they increased the predicted number of named storms and major hurricanes.

The season has the potential to be extremely active, and could be the most active since 2010.

Forecasters now say there is a 60-percent chance of an above-normal season (compared to the May prediction of 45 percent chance), with 14-to-19 named storms (increased from the May predicted range of 11-to-17) and two-to-five major hurricanes (increased from the May predicted range of two-to-four).

A prediction for five-to-nine hurricanes remains unchanged from the initial May outlook.

“We’re now entering the peak of the season when the bulk of the storms usually form,” said Dr. Gerry Bell, 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.”

Warmer waters across the tropical Atlantic than models previously predicted points to an above-normal season, among other indicators, Bell said.

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.

An average Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to Nov. 30, produces 12 named storms, of which six become hurricanes, including three major hurricanes.

The updated outlook is based on the current and evolving atmospheric and oceanic conditions, the most recent model predictions, and pre- and early-season storm activity.

The updated numbers include the season activity to date.

The Atlantic basin has 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.

Cindy made landfall June 22 at the Louisiana-Texas border and caused heavy rain, inland flooding and multiple tornado outbreaks.

Emily made landfall July 31 in Anna Maria Island, Fla.

Franklin is predicted to make landfall in Mexico overnight Aug. 8 as a hurricane, the first of the season.

NOAA news release

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