FIRST ALERT: NOAA increases hurricane season forecast in latest update

FIRST ALERT: NOAA increases hurricane season forecast in latest update
(Source: NOAA)

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - In the latest update from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the forecast for the rest of the hurricane season now calls for the chance of above-normal tropical activity.

In the report released Thursday, NOAA states that “forecasters monitoring oceanic and atmospheric patterns say conditions are now more favorable for above-normal hurricane activity since El Nino has now ended. Two named storms have formed so far this year and the peak months of the hurricane season, August through October, are now underway.”

The report went on to say that “seasonal forecasters with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center have increased the likelihood of an above-normal Atlantic hurricane season to 45% (up from 30% from the outlook issued in May). The likelihood of near-normal activity is now at 35%, and the chance of below-normal activity has dropped to 20%. The number of predicted storms is also greater with NOAA now expecting 10-17 named storms (winds of 39 mph or greater), of which 5-9 will become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or greater), including 2-4 major hurricanes (winds of 111 mph or greater). This updated outlook is for the entire six-month hurricane season, which ends Nov. 30. "

The reason for the increased chance of an above-normal season is the collapse of El Nino in the Pacific Ocean. “El Nino typically suppresses Atlantic hurricane activity but now that it’s gone, we could see a busier season ahead,” said Gerry Bell, Ph.D., lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. “This evolution, combined with the more conducive conditions associated with the ongoing high-activity era for Atlantic hurricanes that began in 1995, increases the likelihood of above-normal activity this year.”

In a typical year, the Atlantic hurricane season produces 12 named storms. Six become hurricanes, and of those, three become major hurricanes. NOAA’s hurricane season outlook is for overall seasonal activity and is not a landfall forecast. Landfalls are largely determined by short-term weather patterns, which are only predictable within about a week of a storm potentially reaching a coastline.

“Today’s updated outlook is a reminder to be prepared,” said Pete Gaynor, acting FEMA administrator. “We urge everyone to learn more about hurricane hazards and prepare now, ahead of time, so that if state and local authorities announce evacuations in advance of a storm, you and your family will have planned where to go and what to do to stay safe.”

It’s important to remember that both busy and quiet seasons can produce landfalling hurricanes. Some of the costliest and most damaging hurricanes in U.S. history have hit during below-normal hurricane seasons, while some of most active hurricane seasons have produced no landfalling storms.

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