Conditions in the ocean and the atmosphere are producing a less active Atlantic hurricane season than initially predicted in May.
Forecasters with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center said on Aug. 9 the likelihood of a below-normal Atlantic hurricane season is now 60 percent, up from 25 percent in May. The likelihood of a near-normal season is now at 30 percent, and the chance of an above-normal season has dropped from 35 percent to 10 percent.
For the entire season, which ends Nov. 30, NOAA predicts a total of 9-13 named storms (winds of 39 mph or greater) of which 4-7 will become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or greater), including 0-2 major hurricanes (winds of 111 mph or greater).
Even with the lower forecast, NOAA warned there could still be activity as the season enters its peak month.
So far, the season has seen four named storms, including two hurricanes. An average six-month hurricane season produces 12 named storms, of which six become hurricanes, including three major hurricanes.
To produce the update, forecasters take several factors into account. El Nino is now more likely to develop with enough strength to suppress storm development during the latter part of the season. Sea surface temperatures across the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea have remained much cooler than average. A combination of stronger wind shear, drier air and increased stability of the atmosphere in the region where storms typically develop will further suppress hurricanes. Storm activity to-date and recent model predictions also contribute to this update.
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