This year’s June 1- Nov. 30 hurricane season should produce fewer storms than average. The forecast is for a total of 9 named storms to form with 3 of them growing into hurricanes. Only 1 is expected to become a major hurricane (category 3 or higher on the Saffir-Simpson wind scale). An average season produces 12 named storms, 6.5 hurricanes, and 2 major hurricanes. A wimpy year?
A lot of this has to due with the El Niño that is also forecast. An El Niño refers to warmer than average water in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean, which affects global weather patterns. These changes included faster-than-usual high-altitude winds over the tropical Atlantic Ocean that can rip apart growing storms. In addition to the good odds for a strong El Niño to form this year, the tropical Atlantic Ocean is now “quite cool,” which would hamper hurricane formation if the cool pattern continues.
Take heart, forecasters expected the 2013 Atlantic hurricane season to be really busy — NOAA told Americans that there was a 70 percent likelihood of 13 to 20 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 7 to 11 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 3 to 6 major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of 111 mph or higher). But it turned out to be one of the quietest on record (only two weak hurricanes). Why were the predictions so far off? The culprit was said to be the very dry air that spread across the heart of the tropical Atlantic.
Time for those emergency and business continuity managers in the Southeast to take up knitting?