Atlantic hurricane season expected to be strongest since 2012; forecasters now expect 70 percent chance of 12 to 17 named storms
In its updated 2016 Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)calls for a higher likelihood of a near-normal or above-normal season, and decreases the chance of a below-normal season to only 15 percent, from the initial outlook issued in May. The season is expected to be the most active since 2012.
Forecasters now expect a 70 percent chance of 12 to 17 named storms, of which five to eight are expected to become hurricanes, including two to four major hurricanes. The initial outlook called for 10 to 16 named storms, four to eight hurricanes and one to four major hurricanes. The seasonal averages are 12 named storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes.
“We’ve raised the numbers because some conditions now in place are indicative of a more active hurricane season, such as El Niño ending, weaker vertical wind shear and weaker trade winds over the central tropical Atlantic, and a stronger west African monsoon,” said Gerry Bell, Ph.D., lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. “However, less conducive ocean temperature patterns in both the Atlantic and eastern subtropical North Pacific, combined with stronger wind shear and sinking motion in the atmosphere over the Caribbean Sea, are expected to prevent the season from becoming extremely active.”
"Given these competing conditions, La Niña, if it develops, will most likely be weak and have little impact on the hurricane season,” added Bell. NOAA announced today that La Niña is slightly favored to develop during the hurricane season.
To date, there have been five named storms, including two hurricanes (Alex and Earl). Four made landfall: Bonnie in South Carolina, Colin in western Florida, Danielle in eastern Mexico and Earl in Belize and Mexico.