The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has released their predictions for the 2013 Atlantic hurricane season and the news is not good.
The forecast calls for 13-20 named storms, 7-11 of which are expected to become hurricanes, including 3-6 major hurricanes (Category 3 or higher on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale). NOAA’s forecast specifies a “70% likelihood” of a range of storms, hurricanes and major hurricanes.
These forecast numbers are above the long-term average from 1950-2012 (12 named storms, 7 hurricanes, 3 major hurricanes) and slightly above the averages for the current active era from 1995-2012 (15 named storms, 8 hurricanes, 4 major hurricanes).
Factors that hindered hurricane activity in the Atlantic in recent years will not be present this year.
“There are no mitigating factors that would suppress the activity,” said Gerry Bell, lead outlook forecaster. “El Nino is not expected to develop this year. All factors point to an active or very active hurricane season.”
Factors in favor of a busy season include above average Atlantic and Caribbean ocean temperatures, lower than average pressures and wind shear, and a present multi-decadal pattern of elevated hurricane activity that commenced in 1995 (and expected to last 25-40 years) according to acting NOAA administrator Kathryn Sullivan, who unveiled the outlook.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that more storms will make landfall in the U.S., however factors that prevented some storms from making landfall over the past several years won’t be around to protect us this time.