DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – While the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says more storms are still expected to develop in the Atlantic Ocean this Hurricane Season, there won’t be nearly as many as previously thought. In fact, there may be less hurricanes than normal.
“Seasonal forecasters with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center have increased the likelihood of a below-normal Atlantic hurricane season to 60 % – up from 25 % in May,” NOAA officials said in a statement released today.
“Conditions in the ocean and the atmosphere are conspiring to produce a less active Atlantic hurricane season than initially predicted in May,” officials said. “Though NOAA and FEMA are raising caution as the season enters its peak months,” the statement continued.
“There are still more storms to come – the hurricane season is far from being over. We urge continued preparedness and vigilance,” said Gerry Bell, Ph.D., lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.
Back in May, forecasters predicted a 75% chance that the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season would be near or above normal.
Hurricane season extends from June 1 to November 30.
NOAA predicts there will be between nine and thirteen named storms. Named storms have winds of 39 mph or greater. Of those, NOAA says between four and seven could become hurricanes. A tropical storm is considered a hurricane when it has winds of 74 mph or greater. NOAA thinks at least two could become major hurricanes with winds of 111 mph or greater.
“So far, the season has seen four named storms, including two hurricanes,” said NOAA officials. “An average six-month hurricane season produces 12 named storms, of which six become hurricanes, including three major hurricanes.”
Officials stress that the forecast is for the entire seasonal activity in the Atlantic. This forecast does not predict the amount of storms that will make landfall.
“Landfalls are largely determined by short-term weather patterns, which are only predictable within about one week of a storm potentially reaching a coastline,” said officials.
“Today’s updated outlook is a reminder that we are entering the height of hurricane season and everyone needs to know their true vulnerabilities to storms and storm surge,” said FEMA Administrator Brock Long. “Now is the time to know who issues evacuation orders in their community, heed the warnings, update your insurance and have a preparedness plan. Don’t let down your guard, late season storms are always a possibility, always keep your plans updated.”
NOAA says there are several reasons for the change. “Sea surface temperatures across the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea have remained much cooler than average,” said officials. ” A combination of stronger wind shear, drier air and increased stability of the atmosphere in the region where storms typically develop will further suppress hurricanes,” the statement continued.
NOAA also said there is a high likelihood of El Nino during the latter part of hurricane season. Experts say El Nino could have enough strength to hinder storm development.