The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released its 2019 hurricane season forecast Thursday morning; it calls for a near-average season with 9-15 named storms, 4-8 of which may become hurricanes and 2-4 that may become major hurricanes.
According to data from data from 1981 to 2010, an “average” season consists of 12 named storms, six of which are hurricanes and three are major hurricanes.
DO YOU KNOW THE DIFFERENCE? Disturbance, depression, storm, hurricane
A big driving factor for this season’s forecast is El Niño Southern Oscillation, also known as ENSO. El Niño is a pattern that develops over the Eastern Pacific, where ocean water is warmer than average, and hinders tropical activity over the Atlantic, developing strong wind shear over the Atlantic.
NOAA’s climate forecast calls for a 70 percent chance for El Niño conditions to continue through summer 2019 in the Northern Hemisphere.
ENSO, although a big driver, is just one ingredient in a storm’s formation recipe. Dry air, Saharan dust and water temperatures also contribute to tropical storm development and intensification.
Good day to bring this up: Hurricane outlooks do not show when/where one would strike. It only takes one to go under that wind shear "soft spot" & fueled by warmer than average sea surface temps-- a storm rapidly intensifies, bring heavier downpours & higher storm surge. pic.twitter.com/T3ZJeKC4xk— Irene Sans (@IreneSans) May 23, 2019
Other factors considered by NOAA for this forecast are a combination of expected warmer-than-average sea-surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, and an enhanced west African monsoon, both of which favor increased hurricane activity. This is the main reason why the forecast calls for a near average season instead of a below-average season.
NOAA officials emphasized the fact that an average season is still "a lot of storms".
"9-15 named storms, are a a lot of storms, 4-8 hurricanes are a lot of hurricanes, 2 to 4 major hurricanes are a lot of major hurricanes, " said Gerry Bell, lead hurricane season forecaster with NOAA's Climate Prediction Center. Please be prepared.
A forecast as such this far out tends to have a large margin of error. These types of forecasts 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 impossible to predict without a current system to analyze.
This is the list of names for the 2019 Atlantic #Hurricane Season. @NOAA releases the forecast for this season later today! Remember regardless of forecast activity, it ONLY TAKES ONE storm to make it an active season for you. #HurricaneOutlook pic.twitter.com/vVpYackfio— Irene Sans (@IreneSans) May 23, 2019
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