Reports by the leading US forecasting team from Colorado State University predicted that the US hurricane seasons will see above-average activity this year, but also stated that the cooler ocean waters will make it difficult to for storms to develop.
In June, the team predicted nine hurricanes this season. Last week however, they lowered their forecast from nine hurricanes to eight. Three hurricanes are predicted to become major hurricanes. Furthermore, they lowered their previous forecast on the probability for a major hurricane to make landfall in the US coastline from 72% to 64%.
According to the CSU team, an average season will see 12 tropical storms. Six of them are hurricanes, including three major hurricanes in the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. This year four tropical storms have formed so far, but not one has strengthened into a hurricane as reported by the National Hurricane Center.
Comparing Last Year’s Hurricane Season
If we look back to last year’s hurricane season, 19 tropical storms were recorded and 10 of them strengthened to become hurricanes. Two became major hurricanes, one of which is Superstorm Sandy – the hurricane that cost the lives of 200 and cost the United States more than $50 billion in damages, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or NOAA.
Phil Klotzbach of CSU explains that despite the fact that the tropical Atlantic remains warmer than average, the eastern portion on the other hand has cooled. But he further explains that there is a low probability for El Nino this summer and fall. El Nino is identified as the warming of the tropical Pacific. When there is El Nino, hurricane formations in the Atlantic are deterred because of the shearing winds that El Nino brings.
CCU Teams Forecasts 2 Hurricane Landfalls
On the other hand, scientists from the Coastal Carolina University in Conway, S.C. released another forecast, specifying the specific number of hurricane landfalls in the US. According to Len Pietrafesa of the CCU team, the nation will see two hurricanes this season. One will hit in the East Coast and the other somewhere in the Gulf Coast. The forecast however, does not state exactly where it will hit and when. But if we look at past weather reports dating back to 1950, hurricanes hit the East Coast and the Gulf Coast once a year.
The team used a new computer model, known as the HUGO (Hurricane Genesis and Outlook) project for this forecast. Pietrafesa explains that the system works by using the current oceanic and atmospheric conditions and taking into account the recorded hurricane history. The objective is to find a year with similar weather conditions compared to the current weather conditions and use it to predict the number of hurricanes that will make landfall in the season.
However, the CCU team admits that predicting the number of hurricane landfalls is difficult compared to predicting the activity of hurricanes. Either way, the HUGO model can help emergency management officials in their preparations in the event that evacuation is necessary as it is said to provide data on a likely storm surge as well as inundation once a hurricane approaches.