Two named storms have formed so far this year, and the peak months of the hurricane season, August-October, are underway. NOAA expects 10 to 17 named storms (winds of 39 mph or greater) — five to nine will become hurricanes.
(TNS) — It's two storms down and a predicted eight to 15 more to go this hurricane season as NOAA forecasters updated their seasonal outlook on Thursday, Aug. 8. They called for a greater chance of above-normal hurricane activity than they did at the start of the season in May.
The forecast change is the result of changing conditions in the Pacific Ocean that influence the Atlantic hurricane season. The El Nino in the Pacific ended and neutral conditions have returned.
"El Nino typically suppresses Atlantic hurricane activity but now that it's gone, we could see a busier season ahead," Gerry Bell, lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA's Climate Prediction Center, said in a press release. "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."
Two named storms have formed so far this year and the peak months of the hurricane season, August through October, are now underway. NOAA is now expecting a total of 10 to 17 named storms (winds of 39 mph or greater), of which five to nine will become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or greater), including two to four major hurricanes (winds of 111 mph or greater). This updated outlook is for the entire six-month hurricane season, which ends Nov. 30.
"Typically you only see one of two named storms during June or July. August, September, October are when the conditions overall favor hurricane activity," Bell said during a telephone press conference Thursday. "That's why by far the vast bulk of the hurricanes we see are during August, September, October. Seeing little activity in June or July is really irrelevant as far as the season goes."
The May outlook predicted a total of nine to 15 named storms. On average, the Atlantic hurricane season produces 12 named storms, of which six become hurricanes, including three 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.
The updated forecast is a good reminder to be prepared for the upcoming heart of the hurricane season, said Chatham Emergency Management Agency outreach volunteer coordinator Chelsea Sawyer.
"We want to know want the storm season will look like, but it only takes one storm to impact life here in Chatham County," she said.
She suggested that anyone who "works, visits or lives in Chatham County" should sign up for CEMA alerts, an automatic severe weather and hazard notification system that supplies texts, phone calls and/or emails. To sign up, visit chathamemergency.org, and click on the text message icon to find the Swift911 Portal to create an account or to log in.
CEMA used to operate those alerts through Twitter but lost many of the 40,000 followers it had amassed for them when Twitter changed its terms of service last year. The emergency managers have been rebuilding the following for the alerts since then and now have about 4,000 individuals registered for CEMA Alerts, Sawyer said. CEMA also streamlined the kinds of alerts being sent out. Gone from it are Amber alerts and most traffic notices that don't affect the whole county. Instead CEMA uses a more automated system that sends out mainly National Weather Service notices for local hazardous weather including coastal flooding, tornadoes and hurricanes.
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