(KMSP) - The Atlantic hurricane season officially begins June 1 and runs through November and the meteorologists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) think it could be a busy year. But like everything else in the weather world, it comes with factors of probability. I mean after all, they’re trying to predict the future.
Right now they’re calling for a 80 percent probability of normal or above normal activity with 11-17 named storms, 5-9 of those likely hurricanes, with 2-4 of those becoming major hurricanes at Category 3 strength or stronger. This current forecast is a wider range than what is typically given because of some unknown factors in the current long range weather models. However, with El Nino and/or La Nina conditions likely not a factor this year, the atmosphere is likely to see less overall wind shear combined with warmer than normal water temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean, and you have the recipe for a very active season. But the question remains, will it actually take shape?
But before you hope for as few tropical systems as possible, understand that these large storms are a necessary part of life in that part of the world. Much of the Caribbean receives more than 40 percent of their average annual rainfall from tropical systems. Even much of the eastern U.S. gets much needed moisture from these powerful storms. So the issue isn’t the tropical systems themselves, it’s just the really strong ones that we want to stay away from.
The 2016 season saw some very strong hurricanes. One hurricane stayed in the major category status for more than a week straight, a new Atlantic record. 15 total storms were observed making it the most active season since 2012. This season appears like it will be equally as active.
The eastern Pacific forecast is out as well with 14 to 20 named storms expected, which would be an above normal season as well. Six to 11 of those are expected to be hurricanes with three to 7 major hurricanes.