August 11, 2016 by Canadian Underwriter
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is now calling for a “higher likelihood of a near-normal or above-normal” Atlantic hurricane season, one that is still expected to be the most active since 2012.
In its updated 2016 Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook, issued on Thursday, NOAA also decreased the chance of a below-normal season to only 15%, from the initial outlook issued in May.
Forecasters now expect a 70% chance of 12 to 17 named storms, of which five to eight are expected to become hurricanes, including two to four major hurricanes, NOAA said in a statement on Thursday. The initial outlook called for 10 to 16 named storms, four to eight hurricanes and one to four major hurricanes.
The seasonal averages are 12 named storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes.
NOAA reports that to date, there have been five named storms, including two hurricanes (Alex and Earl). Four made landfall: Bonnie (in South Carolina), Colin (in western Florida), Danielle (in eastern Mexico) and Earl (in Belize and Mexico).
Related: NOAA predicts below-normal Atlantic hurricane season in the United States
“We’ve raised the numbers because some conditions now in place are indicative of a more active hurricane season, such as El Niño ending, weaker vertical wind shear and weaker trade winds over the central tropical Atlantic, and a stronger west African monsoon,” said Gerry Bell, the lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. “However, less conducive ocean temperature patterns in both the Atlantic and eastern subtropical North Pacific, combined with stronger wind shear and sinking motion in the atmosphere over the Caribbean Sea, are expected to prevent the season from becoming extremely active,” Bell said in the statement.
“Given these competing conditions, La Niña, if it develops, will most likely be weak and have little impact on the hurricane season,” added Bell. NOAA also announced on Thursday that La Niña is “slightly favoured” to develop during August and October, with about a 55% to 60% chance of La Niña during the fall and winter of 2016 to 2017.
Tropical Storm Risk (TSR), part of Aon Benfield Research’s academic and industry collaboration, updated its 2016 Atlantic hurricane season forecast on Aug. 5, forecasting 15 named storms between June and November. TSR’s Professor Mark Saunders and Dr. Adam Lea forecasted 15 named storms, seven hurricanes and three major (Category 3+) hurricanes. They also said at the time that “there is still a 71% likelihood that the 2016 season will be the most active since 2012.”
Dr. Philip Klotzbach of Colorado State also predicted 15 named storms, but six hurricanes and two major hurricanes between June and November.
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