2017 Hurricane Forecast: NOAA predicts above-average Atlantic activity

By: Irene Sans

Updated:

NOAA released its Atlantic hurricane season outlook today, calling for an above-normal hurricane season this year.

An average season consists of 11 storms, of which six are hurricanes and three of those become major hurricanes, category 3 or above.

This year, forecasters announced that there is a 70 percent chance of having 11 to 17 named storms, five to nine of those could become hurricanes and two to four of those become major hurricanes.

It is becoming less favorable for an El Niño Oscillation to develop. El Niño is a pattern that develops over the Eastern Pacific and hinders tropical activity over the Atlantic. If El Niño is weak or there is a neutral phase in the Pacific, the chances of an active hurricane season increases. In the contrary to El Niño, La Niña would cause much more favorable conditions over the Atlantic for tropical systems to develop.

These phases mainly affect the upper-level weather pattern in  the Atlantic. El Niño brings high wind shear, which breaks a storm system´s structure (above) not allowing it to develop or strengthen. Think of it as a tower under construction; if there are very strong winds, the construction cannot happen. Under a La Niña phase, the exact opposite would happen. No winds aloft, construction blooms.

There are other ingredients that contribute to a storm’s formation, too, though, such as dry air or Saharan dust and water temperature. It’s like a recipe; the “dish” can be cooked missing an ingredient, but it might not taste the same.

 

These type of forecast should be used as guidance. Remember, it only takes one tropical storm or hurricane to impact your location to make it a busy season for you. Also, this or any season forecast does not discuss locations of landfall, as those are hard to predict without a system to analyze. 

 


 

 

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Another big news released at a press conference this Thursday was that the newest satellite in space, GOES-16, launched on November 2016 from Cape Canaveral and will be positioned over the Atlantic, becoming GOES-EAST in November. 

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