The last two years have produced quieter “than usual” hurricane seasons in the tropical Atlantic. Colorado expert, Phil Klotzbach is forcasting a third straight year with depressed hurricane activity. The forecast includes: 7 named storms, 3 hurricanes, and 1 major hurricane during the season which runs from June 1 to November 30.
An average season produces 12 named storms, 6.5 hurricanes, and 2 major hurricanes.
There are several factors have lined up that are hostile to Atlantic hurricane activity. An El Niño event, which generates upper level winds that disrupt storm formation, has developed and is forecast to strengthen by the fall – possibly to moderate-to-strong levels. Sea surface temperatures that help fuel developing storms when they’re warm, are substantially cooler than normal in the tropical Atlantic.
The concern is that the forecast for a quiet season combined with a lack of hurricane landfalls in the U.S. in recent years is lulling coastal residents into a false sense of security.
A major hurricane has not struck the U.S. coast since Wilma in 2005, almost 10 years – the longest period on record (the previous record spanned the Civil War from 1861-1868). This is despite some active hurricane seasons in this span.
Klotzbach’s seasonal hurricane forecasts, while not perfect, have provided a reasonably good sense of how activity will compare to normal over time. In the last 16 years, dating back to the 1999 hurricane season, the duo has correctly indicated whether activity will be above or below normal 13 times.
NOAA issues their seasonal forecast outlook in May.