Quiet hurricane forecast doesn’t mean a big one can’t strike

2014 Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook
Image: NOAA

The Atlantic Hurricane Season–which features heightened cyclone activities in the North Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico–begins on June 1, and while forecasters are predicting a normal or below normal season, researchers from the Colorado State University caution that it only takes one strike from a powerfurl storm to wreak havoc.


The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued its latest predictions this past week, calling for “a near-normal or below-normal season.”

“The main driver of this year’s outlook is the anticipated development of El Niño this summer. El Niño causes stronger wind shear, which reduces the number and intensity of tropical storms and hurricanes,” the NOAA statement said.

tracking chart thumbIt added that, “El Niño can also strengthen the trade winds and increase the atmospheric stability across the tropical Atlantic, making it more difficult for cloud systems coming off of Africa to intensify into tropical storms.”


The 2014 Outlook

Storm NamesAccording to NOAA, people living in this part of the hemisphere can expect a 50 percent chance of a below-normal season, a 40 percent chance of a near-normal season, and only a 10 percent chance of an above-normal season.

“For the six-month hurricane season, which begins June 1, NOAA predicts a 70 percent likelihood of 8 to 13 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 3 to 6 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 1 to 2 major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of 111 mph or higher),” it added.

The seasonal averages are 12 named storms, 6 hurricanes and 3 major hurricanes, based on the average from 1981 to 2010.

Philip J. Klotzbach, Research Scientist at the Colorado State University’s Department of Atmospheric Science, and William M. Gray, Professor Emeritus of Atmospheric Science, have issued their annual forecast, saying that, “We anticipate a below-average probability for major hurricanes making landfall along the United States coastline and in the Caribbean. Despite the quiet forecast, coastal residents are reminded that it only takes one hurricane making landfall to make it an active season for them.”

They note that the probability of at least one major hurricane (category 3, 4 or 5) tracking into the Caribbean is 28%, substantially below the century average of 42%.

NOAA says that Sunday, May 25 to Saturday, May 31, is National Hurricane Preparedness Week.

Hurricane preparedness tips, along with video and audio public service announcements in both English and Spanish, featuring NOAA hurricane experts and the FEMA Administrator, can he accessed at http://www.hurricanes.gov/prepare.

The Saffir-Simpson Scale (Category 1 to 5)
The Saffir-Simpson Scale (Category 1 to 5) Image: NHC



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