NOAA Predicts Near-Normal Atlantic Hurricane Season

By RICK MELLERUP | May 29, 2019

Surf City, NJ — The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Climate Prediction Center released its 2019 Atlantic basin hurricane forecast last Thursday and the news was good. Well, pretty good. Decent. It could be worse.

It predicted the Atlantic would have a near-normal season, with a 40 percent chance of a near-normal year while there was a 30 percent chance of its being above-normal and a 30 percent probability it would be a below-normal season.

To be a little more exacting, NOAA called for nine to 15 named storms including four to eight hurricanes, two to four of which would be of the major variety, Category 3 or above. According to NOAA, an average Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to Nov. 30, features 12 named storms and six hurricanes, three of which would reach the Cat 3 level.

NOAA’s prediction fits in rather well with academic and commercial weather company forecasts issued earlier this spring. Colorado State University’s Tropical Meteorology Project expected 13 named storms with five reaching hurricane strength and two developing into major blows. AccuWeather predicted 12 to 14 storms and five to seven hurricanes with two to four vaulting the major hurricane wind bar of 111 miles per hour.

NOAA said its outlook “reflects competing climate factors. The ongoing El Niño is expected to persist and suppress the intensity of the hurricane season. Countering El Niño is the expected combination of 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.”

With such forces pushing against each other it is easy to see how NOAA came up with its near-normal forecast.

Near-normal. Not too bad. You can bet folks living near the Pacific Ocean would enjoy that forecast. The Pacific Ocean isn’t going to fit its peaceful name in 2019 according to NOAA, which predicted a 70 percent probability of an above-normal hurricane season for both the eastern and central Pacific basins.

— Rick Mellerup

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