Experts predict “near average” hurricane season

    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 2016 Atlantic hurricane season will feature “near average” activity, according to a prediction by atmospheric scientists. 

    The report issued by Colorado State University anticipates 12 named storms, including six hurricanes and two major hurricanes, or cyclones that reach Category 3 strength or higher on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale

    Released today at the National Tropical Weather Conference in South Padre Island, Texas, author Dr. Phil Klotzbach, a research scientist, along with noted hurricane expert Dr. William Gray, call for a 50 percent probability of at least one major hurricane striking the United States and a 30% chance of an Eastern seaboard strike.

    Both percentages are around the yearly average. 

    The forecasters cite the “quite cold” North Atlantic Ocean as an inhibiting factor that tends to “force atmospheric conditions that are less conducive for Atlantic hurricane formation and intensification.” 

    But the forecasters emphasize that “there is large uncertainty” in the prediction, particularly due to a a current weakening El Niño likely to transition to either neutral or La Niña conditions by September, 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 2016 Atlantic basin hurricane season begins on June 1 and continues through November 30. The season began before the official date with the formation of Hurricane Alex in January. The upcoming names include Bonnie, Colin, Danielle, Earl, and Fiona.

    NOAA offers a comprehensive guide on storm preparations. The agency’s “Hurricane Preparedness Week” runs from May 15 through May 21.  

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