Atlantic hurricane season: What to expect

The Atlantic basin is expected to have a below normal season of 7-12 named storms, with an average season of 12-18. Seasonal forecasts are more than just a bit of entertainment, even more to…

Atlantic hurricane season: What to expect

The Atlantic basin is expected to have a below normal season of 7-12 named storms, with an average season of 12-18.

Seasonal forecasts are more than just a bit of entertainment, even more to a fault in reality. Hurricanes are predicted and predicted, as are snowstorms and tornadoes, as far in advance as week before it happens. The season is notoriously unpredictable and needs to be monitored — but also followed with a critical eye toward how accurate the forecasts were at the beginning of a particularly stormy season. It’s important to keep your eye on what’s happening now, and how it fits into seasonal projections of future activity. Not everything we’re hearing this time around seems to be an accurate measure of the upcoming season.

The 2016 Atlantic season, for example, saw 14 named storms, 3 of which were hurricanes. The Atlantic basin was short on hurricanes, and the prior season is also estimated to have been below average with 14 named storms, 4 of which were hurricanes. In 2011, there were just 8 named storms in the Atlantic, 3 of which were hurricanes. So we’re up on the number of storms but not the number of hurricanes.

Last season, though, was actually worse, thanks to 2016’s outcome, combined with this year’s forecast. That included even the Australian climate record’s own data coming in. If the season was, in fact, off-to-a-bad start, a weakening El Niño likely contributed to that, as Atlantic tropical cyclones will often track across warm ocean waters, which is what is predicted in a more active season.

So, is the pattern concerning? No. Expect one to two hurricanes this season, and with an average season of 2.5 hurricanes there was a 17 percent chance of 6 or more. See this article by Todd S. Purdum on how the front-running models predict the Atlantic’s hurricane seasons.

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