The Atlantic hurricane season has started, and this year, there is a distinct possibility we will be having a very active season.
There are already seven named storms (Hurricanes and Tropical Storms) and three hurricanes (Hurricanes and Tropical Storms) forming. Storms are likely to continue forming as a large area of high pressure to the east of the Atlantic increases in strength over the eastern Atlantic Ocean. This will likely allow higher wind shear, which will lead to weakened storms becoming stronger.
Despite this, the long-term trend of this year’s year-to-date has been for a much more active hurricane season. It is becoming more likely that we will have the most active Atlantic hurricane season in over a decade. The question is, will this one be as active as 2008?
What is unique about this year, that none of the other three hurricane seasons in this decade has been as active, is the very warm waters in the Atlantic. The 2012 and 2005 seasons and the season of 2011 were all active despite below average sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic.
The average sea surface temperature in the Atlantic is about 1.1 degrees Fahrenheit (0.7 degrees Celsius) warmer than average. At this point, these warm waters indicate an above average hurricane season is likely.
So how active will this year be? The most recent study I saw shows that the active 10 year period was 1998-2003 with 21 named storms (16 hurricanes and 5 major hurricanes). Since then, it is been 13 named storms (6 hurricanes and 2 major hurricanes). Since we are approaching the peak of the season and the more active seasons, I would be surprised if this year were not more active.
So, what happens next? The Atlantic hurricane season ends Nov. 30. For the next few weeks, our attentions will turn to this season, and what the rest of the season will bring.
For those of you going to the beach this summer, remember it is still very early to tell whether this season will be active or not. We really won’t know until late August.
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