2018 Hurricane forecast: NOAA Predicts near- or above-average season

2018 Hurricane forecast: NOAA Predicts near- or above-average season

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

The year signals there is a 75 percent chance of being near- or- above normal, and 35 percent chance of above-normal, and a 25 percent chance of a below-normal season.

The forecast calls for having 10 to 16 named storms, five to nine of those could become hurricanes and one to four of those become major hurricanes.

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

There is a possibility of a weak El Niño pattern to develop. El Niño is a pattern that develops over the Eastern Pacific and hinders tropical activity over the Atlantic. In the contrary to El Niño, La Niña would cause much more favorable conditions over the Atlantic for tropical systems to develop. Some research has shown that during the 2017 season, although there was a neutral phase, remnants of La Niña were still present which could have increased activity over the Atlantic.

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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.