National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center predicts that the East Coast is likely to get off easy this Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to Nov. 30. The same can’t be said, however, on the Pacific.
NOAA is predicting that along the Atlantic, there will be a 70 percent likelihood of:
- Six to 11 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher),
- Three to six could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher)
- At most, two of those are expected to become major hurricanes, defined as Category 3, 4 or 5, characterized by winds of 111 mph or higher.
The main factor expected to suppress the hurricane season this year is El Niño, which is already affecting wind and pressure patterns, and is forecast to last through the hurricane season. El Niño is a cyclic climate phenomenon that involves both the ocean and the atmosphere. One of its hallmarks is warmer-than-average sea-surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean. Although the El Niño fizzled last winter, the pool of warm water stuck around this spring and strengthened into a full-blown event.
This season’s first storm, Tropical Storm Ana came ashore in the Carolinas earlier this month, bringing rain from Virginia to South Carolina. It did not cause any major problems While a below-normal season is likely in Atlantic, there is still a 10 percent chance of an above-normal season.
It will be a different story for the Eastern Pacific and Central Pacific basins this year.
For the Eastern Pacific hurricane basin, NOAA’s 2015 outlook is for a 70 percent chance of an above-normal hurricane season.
- 70 percent probability of 15 to 22 named storms
- Seven to 12 are expected to become hurricanes
- With five to eight likely to become major hurricanes.
For the Central Pacific hurricane basin, NOAA’s outlook is for a 70 percent chance of an above-normal season with five to eight tropical cyclones likely.
FEMA officials, meanwhile, used the arrival of the hurricane season to advise coastal residents to be prepared. Among other things it called for people to “develop a family communications plan, build an emergency supply kit for your home and take time to learn evacuation routes for your area.”