NOAA predicts near-normal hurricane season

Conditions in both the atmosphere and the ocean favor a near-normal hurricane season in the Atlantic Basin this season, according to NOAA.

Beginning June 1, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center says there is a 70 percent chance of nine to 15 named storms  with winds topping 39 mph or higher  for the entire six-month hurricane season. Of the storms, four to eight will strengthen to a hurricane with winds topping 74 mph or higher  and of those, one to three will become major hurricanes with winds topping 111 mph or higher, ranking Category 3, 4 or 5.

Based on the period between 1981 to 2010, an average season produces 12 named storms with six hurricanes, including three major hurricanes, according to Science Daily.

According to the article, the continuation of the overall conditions associated with the Atlantic high-activity era that began in 1995, in addition to near-average sea surface temperatures across much of the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea show a favoring in the predicted hurricane season. However, strong wind shear, which is hostile to hurricane formation in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, and cooler sea surface temperatures in the far eastern Atlantic can limit future storm development if they persist.

“NOAA’s outlook predicts a less active season compared to recent years,” NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D, told Science Daily. “But regardless of the outlook, it’s vital for anyone living or vacationing in hurricane-prone locations to be prepared. We have a stark reminder this year with the 20th anniversary of Hurricane Andrew.”

Andrew, the Category 5 hurricane that devastated South Florida on August 24, 1992, was the first storm in a late-starting season that produced only six named storms.