The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released an updated outlook for the 2016 Atlantic Hurricane Season Thursday. NOAA has now decreased the likelihood of a below-normal season by 15 percent, meaning a higher probability of an at-or-above normal season. If this forecast verifies, it will be the most active tropical season since 2012.
Here’s how it breaks down:
12-17 Named Storms
2-4 Major Hurricanes
10-16 Named Storms
1-4 Major Hurricanes
12 Named Storms
3 Major Hurricanes
The reason for the upgrade? Multiple factors. “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, Ph.D., 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. Given these competing conditions, La Niña, if it develops, will most likely be weak and have little impact on the hurricane season,” added Bell.
The Atlantic Basin got off to a quick start in January, when Alex became a category 1 hurricane. It was followed by three tropical storms in late May and June. Tropical Storm Colin was the earliest occurrence of a season’s third named storm on record. Tropical Storm Danielle quickly followed as the earliest ever fourth named storm. Category 1 Hurricane Earl made landfall near Belize City, Belize in early August.
The peak of the Atlantic hurricane season peaks on September 10, when systems are generally more frequent and with greater intensity. If you live in a coastal area, now is the time to gather your hurricane preparedness kit.