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August 14th, 2013

NOAA outlook calls for quieter Atlantic hurricane season


 team of hurricane specialists from the Virginia-Key based National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) say this year’s season, which runs through November 30, would most likely be marked by a near-normal or below-normal level of storm activity.
The outlook calls for a 40 percent chance of a near-normal season, a 50 percent chance of a below- normal season and only a 10 percent chance for an above-normal season. Overall, NOAA predicts a 70 percent likelihood that between 8 to 13 named storms will develop (winds of 39 mph and higher), of which three to six could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph and higher), including one or two major hurricanes (category 3, 4, or 5 on the Saffir-Simpson scale) with winds above 110 mph.
These numbers are near or below the seasonal average of 12 named storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes, based on the averages from 1981 to 2010. The Atlantic hurricane region includes the North Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico.
The main driver of this year’s outlook is the anticipated development of El Niño conditions during the summer months, characterized by warmer than average sea surface temperatures across the tropical Pacific Ocean that globally impact weather and climate. The El Niño phenomenon causes stronger wind shear in the Atlantic, which reduces the number and intensity of tropical storms and hurricanes. El Niño also strengthens the trade winds and increases atmospheric stability across the tropical Atlantic, making it more difficult for cloud systems coming off the West African coast to intensify into tropical storms.
NOAA’s outlook provides the public with only a general guide to the expected overall activity for the upcoming hurricane season. It is not a seasonal hurricane landfall forecast, and does not imply levels of activity for any particular region. NOAA will reassess climatic conditions later in the season and issue an updated forecast for the Atlantic basin in early August.
In spite of the forecast for a calmer hurricane season, coastal residents and communities in areas potentially impacted by land falling storms are urged to remain vigilant in monitoring the tropics and to have preparedness measures and action plans in place. Below-average seasons can still produce hurricane disasters.
The 2014 Atlantic pre-season hurricane outlook is an official product of the NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, produced in collaboration with the National Hurricane Center and AOML’s Hurricane Research Division (HRD). Stanley Goldenberg, an HRD meteorologist has been a member of the seasonal hurricane forecast team since its inception in 1998.

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