The National Oceanic Atmospheric and Atmospheric Climate Prediction Center are calling for a near-normal 2019 Atlantic hurricane season, which begins June 1 and continues until Nov. 30.
The center is forecasting a 40 percent chance of a near-normal season, but added that there is a 30 percent chance for an above-normal season and a 30 percent chance for a below-normal season.
An average hurricane season produces 12 named storms, of which six become hurricanes, including three major hurricanes.
NOAA predicts a range of nine to 15 named storms, with winds of 39 mph or higher. It said between four and eight of those storms could become hurricanes, including two to four Category 3, 4 or 5 storms. NOAA said it is providing these ranges with a 70 percent confidence level.
“New satellite data and other upgrades to products and services from NOAA enable a more weather-ready nation by providing the public and decision makers with the information needed to take action before, during and after a hurricane,” acting NOAA administrator Neil Jacobs said in a statement.
Gerry Bell, lead forecaster at the Atmospheric Climate Prediction Center, discusses the forecast.
This year marks the first time NOAA’s Earth-observing satellites includes three operational next-generation satellites. NOAA said this provides “unique and valuable data” that will feed hurricane forecast models and help users make critical decisions days in advance.
NOAA’s National Weather Service is upgrading its Global Forecast System flagship weather model — the so-called American model — early in the season. It’s the first major upgrade to the core of the model in almost 40 years, and NWS said it will improve cyclone track and intensity forecasts.
“NOAA is driving toward a community-based development program for future weather and climate modeling to deliver the very best forecasts by leveraging new investments in research and working with the weather enterprise,” Jacobs said.
The agency will also expand the coastal storm surge watches and warnings to include Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
NOAA also predicts a 70 percent chance of an above-normal season for the eastern and central Pacific regions.