NOAA predicts fewer storms for this year's Atlantic hurricane season
NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, now forecasts an even quieter hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean than they predicted in May.
In an average hurricane season, there are typically 12 named storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes -- “major” meaning storms that are Category 3 or higher. The recent report from NOAA says there’s a 70 percent chance that, at most, there would be 10 named storms, four hurricanes, and perhaps one storm that will turn into a major hurricane.
The factors that make a hurricane season more active involve three things: first an initial disturbance, which usually happens off the coast of Africa, warm sea surface temperatures, and light wind activity in the upper atmosphere. State climatologist Dan Leathers says that this year, the probability is low, considering that there have been relatively cool sea surface temperatures and strong winds in the upper atmosphere.
“And that tends to take any system that tries to get going and tries to build. It’s shearing it off the thunderstorms that make the hurricane. It really disrupts those thunderstorms and doesn’t allow those hurricanes to come together and develop further," said Leathers.
So far this year, there have been three named tropical storms. That was Ana, which hit South Carolina, and Bill, which hit Texas. Claudette formed off the coast of Virginia last month.
But even with the low probability of storms, Leathers says there’s still a chance that a damaging hurricane can happen this year.
“Even though [NOAA's] predicting a “below-normal” season, as far as number of storms and even their intensity -- it only takes one, from that 6 to 10 [storms], that hits a populated area and causes a huge amount of damage," said Leathers.
For example, Hurricane Andrew, one of the costliest storms in U.S. history, occurred during 1992's quiet hurricane season. The Atlantic hurricane season typically peaks around September 10th. The storm season will end at November 30th.