A leading hurricane forecast is calling for a slightly above average storm season with 14 named storms, 7 hurricanes and 3 major hurricanes.
The prediction from Colorado State University’s Tropical Meteorology Project was released this morning at the National Tropical Weather Conference in San Antonio.
It follows at least two other forecasts made this month calling for a near average to above average hurricane season.
An average season has 12 named storms, 6 hurricanes and 3 major hurricanes.
The hyperactive 2017 hurricane season had 17 named storms, 10 hurricanes and 6 major hurricanes.
The federal Climate Prediction Center will release its hurricane forecast in late May.
CSU’s April forecast is a much-anticipated annual event because it’s typically one of the first forecasts of the year and is possibly the longest running. It was started in 1984 by William Gray, who passed away in 2016.
Hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach, who was mentored by Gray, is now the lead author of the report.
Klotzbach said the forecast was largely based on a prediction that El Niño will not appear this summer or fall, with the atmosphere instead transitioning to neutral from a current weak La Niña event.
The CSU forecast also considers the probability of hurricanes making landfall. According to today’s prediction, there is a 72 percent chance that a named storm will hit an area that includes Florida’s coastline and the east coast. The average is 61 percent.
The probability of a major hurricane – Category 3-5 – will hit the same region is 39 percent, compared to an average of 31 percent.
“We anticipate a slightly above-average probability for major hurricanes making landfall along the continental U.S. coastline and in the Caribbean,” the CSU forecast notes.
He acknowledges early predictions are notoriously low in confidence. CSU’s 2017 April prediction fell far from target because it anticipated the formation of a summer El Niño that never roared.
El Niño is typically associated with slower hurricane seasons, while La Niña tends to encourage hurricanes.
“Typically in the Atlantic, El Niño is our friend because it increases upper level winds and that increases shear,” Klotzbach said.
The hurricane season begins June 1 and runs through Nov. 30.
“I try to emphasize that June and July are part of the hurricane season but they are generally pretty quiet,” Klotzbach said. “Then August comes around and people think the season is a dud. It’s important to remind everyone June and July are normally quiet.”
AccuWeather is forecasting between 12 and 15 tropical cyclones this season. Of those, it expects 6 to 8 to become hurricanes and 3 to 5 to grow into major hurricanes.
Similar to last year, sea surface temperatures are expected to remain warmer than normal across most of the basin and normal to above normal over the main developmental region, where more than 85 percent of all tropical storms form, according to AccuWeather.
“The thing that’s causing the balance to tip in one direction [this year] is that sea surface temperatures are warmer than normal,” said AccuWeather senior meteorologist Dan Kottlowski.
According to Kottlowski, conditions are ripe for early season development in the Gulf of Mexico due the warm water already in place in that part of the Atlantic basin.
Please check back for more on this breaking news story. A more detailed article will appear in The Palm Beach Post and MyPalmBeachPost.com Friday.