Just after Colorado State University’s Department of Atmospheric Science said earlier this week that it expects a reduction in hurricane activity this year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration countered with its own report. NOAA said that it expects increased activity in the next few months.
“Conditions are now more favorable for above-normal hurricane activity since El Nino has now ended,” said a NOAA statement. Forecasters with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center have increased the likelihood of an above-normal Atlantic hurricane season to 45 percent, from the original 30 percent prediction in May. The likelihood of near-normal activity is at 35 percent and the chance of below-normal activity has been lowered to 20 percent.
NOAA now predicts 10 to 17 named events with winds stronger than 39 mph and is expecting that between five and nine of those will become hurricanes with winds stronger than 74 mph. Up to four of those storms will be “major hurricanes” with winds of 111 mph or more. The outlook extends through November 30. Colorado State predicted 12 named storms and six hurricanes.
“NOAA will continue to deliver the information that the public depends on before, during and after any storms throughout the hurricane season,” Neil Jacobs, Ph.D. and acting NOAA administrator, said in the statement. “Armed with our next-generation satellites, sophisticated weather models, hurricane hunter aircraft, and the expertise of our forecasters, we are prepared to keep communities informed to help save lives and livelihoods.”
NOAA announced that the El Nino condition in the Pacific Ocean ended and neutral conditions have returned.
“El Nino typically suppresses Atlantic hurricane activity but now that it’s gone, we could see a busier season ahead,” Gerry Bell, Ph.D, lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, said in the statement. “This evolution, combined with the more conducive conditions associated with the ongoing high-activity era for Atlantic hurricanes that began in 1995, increases the likelihood of above-normal activity this year.”