Researchers Predict Light Hurricane Season

NOAA hurricane hunter WP-3D Orion and Gulfstream IV aircraft in flight. (Photo By: NOAA)

NOAA hurricane hunter WP-3D Orion and Gulfstream IV aircraft in flight. (Photo By: NOAA)

Researchers Predict Light Hurricane Season
By Derrill Holly | ECT Staff Writer Published: May 20th, 2014Meteorologists are pointing toward cooling water temperatures in the tropical Atlantic and the possibility of a moderate to strong El Niño effect as indications that a relatively quiet hurricane season lies ahead for 2014.

“Historical data indicate fewer storms form in these conditions,” said Philip Klotzbach, a meteorologist on staff at Colorado State University.

Klotzbach and colleague William Gray of the university’s Tropical Meteorology Project recently released their predictions for the Atlantic basin hurricane season, which begins June 1 and continues through Nov. 30.

The team, which has produced seasonal forecasts since 1984, is predicting nine tropical storms, but only three reaching hurricane strength.

Of the three predicted hurricanes, only one should be a major hurricane—Category 3, 4 or 5 with sustained winds of at least 111 mph.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is expected to release its seasonal outlook in Brooklyn, N.Y., May 22, but some notable private sector meteorological consulting firms have issued predictions similar to Colorado State.

AccuWeather, which supplies weather information to many utilities, including some electric cooperatives, has predicted a below-normal season, with the onset of an El Niño occurring in late summer or fall.

“This could be one of the least active years in recent memory,” said Dan Kottlowski, AccuWeather.com senior meteorologist. If the 2014 season falls short of normal, it would be the fourth below-normal season in 20 years, according to government meteorologists.

“Just because we are saying this is going to be an inactive season doesn’t mean we couldn’t have a couple of very intense hurricanes,” said Kottlowski.

At Weather Service International, which operates The Weather Channel, forecasters are calling for 11 named storms, including five hurricanes, with two reaching Category 3 or stronger.

“It is important that our forecasts are for the total number of storms that may occur anywhere within the Atlantic Ocean,” said Dr. Peter Neilley, Weather Service’s vice president of global forecasting services.

But forecasters who’ve contributed to the predictions already offered some observations:

  • Meteorologists at the Colorado State Tropical Meteorology Project predict a 35 percent chance of a major hurricane crossing the United States coastline in 2014, with a 20 percent chance of a major landfall along the East Coast, including Florida. The chance along the Gulf Coast between Brownsville, Texas, and the Florida Panhandle is 19 percent.
  • AccuWeather.com suggests that the area extending from eastern Louisiana to the Florida peninsula and the coasts of the Carolinas and Virginia should be closely watched this summer.

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