Forecasters See Quiet Atlantic Hurricane Season

By Brian K. Sullivan | April 10, 2014
hurricane

Rising heat in the equatorial Pacific Ocean portends the quietest Atlantic hurricane season in five years, Colorado State University researchers said.

Nine named storms, with winds of at least 39 miles (63 kilometers) per hour, are expected to develop this year, with three of them growing into hurricanes and one becoming a major storm, said Phil Klotzbach, lead author of the forecast.

“The low forecast is due to El Nino’s likely development” in the Pacific and “cool sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic,” Klotzbach said in an e-mail interview.

The Atlantic hurricane season is watched closely by the energy, commodity and insurance industries because of the effect hurricanes have on lives, property and markets in the U.S., Mexico and the Caribbean.

The Gulf of Mexico is home to about 6 percent of U.S. natural gas output, 23 percent of oil production and more than 45 percent of petroleum refining capacity, according to the Energy Department.

In 2001, Gulf waters accounted for 24 percent of U.S. marketed gas production. Florida, which has been struck by more tropical systems than any other state, is the second-largest producer of oranges behind Brazil.

Quiet Seasons

The last time the Atlantic produced only nine named storms was 2009, which was also a year in which an El Nino formed, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami. That was the least number of such storms since 1997, which had eight.

El Nino is important to the forecast because warm waters in the equatorial Pacific trigger atmospheric changes that lead to more wind shear across the tropical Atlantic.

Shear is when winds at different altitudes blow in multiple directions or speeds. That can tear apart the structure of a budding tropical system, rip the top off a hurricane or knock a storm over, weakening it or breaking it apart.

The U.S. Climate Prediction Center has issued an El Nino watch this year, and the Australian Bureau of Meteorology says the chances are greater than 70 percent that one will form.

Colorado State’s hurricane outlook is one of the leading forecasts because William Gray, now professor emeritus of atmospheric science, pioneered seasonal predictions.

Last year, the researchers expected 18 storms, eight of them hurricanes and three of them major systems with winds of at least 111 mph. There were 14, two of which became hurricanes. None was major. One of the storms was added to the seasonal total in February after the hurricane center reanalyzed data.

The 30-year average is 12 named storms, six hurricanes and three major systems, according to the center. The six-month Atlantic season begins June 1.

 

Subscribe Insurance news headlines delivered to your email.
Get a free subscription to our popular email newsletter.

Latest Comments

  • April 14, 2014 at 9:46 am
    Agent says:
    Local weathermen cannot get it right two days in advance and these people try to predict months into the future. They are like mini global warming people who say the ice cap ... read more
  • April 11, 2014 at 4:21 pm
    Thom says:
    The methodology Dr. Gray used in the past was the look back method. What has happened in the past will most likely happen in the future. I'm not kidding. That is how good we a... read more
  • April 11, 2014 at 2:30 pm
    Dave says:
    Cheetoh, I was going to say the same thing but you beat me to the punch.
See all comments

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

More News
More News Features