Experts offer hurricane season prediction but say ‘it only takes one’

A NOAA satellite image of Hurricane Isabel taken on Sept. 10, 2003.

A NOAA satellite image of Hurricane Isabel taken on Sept. 10, 2003.

The 2019 Atlantic hurricane season will possibly feature “slightly below” average activity, according to a prediction by atmospheric scientists.

The report issued by Colorado State University anticipates 13 named storms, including five hurricanes and two major hurricanes, or cyclones that reach Category 3 strength or higher on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.

The reports calls for a 28 percent probability of at least one major hurricane striking the Eastern seaboard.

Between 1981 and 2010, the Atlantic basin has on average produced 12.1 named storms, 6.4 hurricanes, and 2.7 major hurricanes annually.

The forecasters cite a high likelihood of a weak El Niño weather pattern and sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic at slightly below average as  inhibiting factors for hurricane development.

But the forecasters emphasize that their earliest prediction in April has only “modest long-term skill,” warning coastal residents that it only takes one hurricane striking the coast “to make it an active season for them.”

Some Atlantic basin seasons feature below average activity but still result in a devastating storm, like Hurricane Andrew in 1992, while others like 2010 — the third most active season on record — did not feature a hurricane making landfall.

The report cautions that while forecasting precision is impossible in April, the general public is curious about what’s possibly in store for them.

“We issue these forecasts to satisfy the curiosity of the general public and to bring attention to the hurricane problem. There is a general interest in knowing what the odds are for an active or inactive season,” the authors note.

The 2019 Atlantic basin hurricane season begins on June 1 and continues through November 30. The first names include Andrea, Barry, Chantal, Dorian, Erin, Fernand, Gabrielle, and Humberto.

NOAA offers a comprehensive guide on storm preparations. The agency’s “Hurricane Preparedness Week” runs from May 5 through May 11.

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