Active Hurricane Season Ahead, NOAA Says


Mindy Weisberger (Live Science, 24 May 2018) writes, “Brace yourself for the 2018 hurricane season — it’s going to be more active than usual, though less intense than last year’s.” According to this article, NOAA will issue an update to its forecast in early August, when hurricane season reaches its peak.

Today (May 24), experts with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued their forecast for the Atlantic hurricane season, which begins June 1 and lasts until Nov. 30. The 2018 season is anticipated to be slightly more active than usual, with a 75 percent chance of an above-normal or near-normal season, NOAA representatives announced at a news conference. [Hurricane Season 2018: How Long It Lasts and What to Expect]

During the upcoming season, there is a 70 percent chance of 10 to 16 named storms developing, with winds of 39 mph (63 km/h) or higher. Of those named storms, five to nine could achieve hurricane strength, with winds of at least 74 mph (119 km/h) or higher, and one to four storms could develop into major hurricanes (category 3, 4 or 5, with winds reaching at least 111 mph, or 179 km/h), according to NOAA. [. . .]

[. . .] Last year, three exceptionally powerful hurricanes made landfall: Harvey struck Texas; Irma devastated the Caribbean and southeastern U.S. — creating a massive “tree graveyard” in the Everglades; and Maria walloped the Caribbean and Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico is still reeling from Maria’s destructive impact. Eight months after the hurricane, approximately 14,500 people still don’t have access to electricity, ABC News reported yesterday (May 23).

While the 2018 hurricane season is expected to be less intense than in 2017, there is still a heightened hurricane risk for the mainland U.S. and islands in the Caribbean, Gerry Bell, a hurricane climate specialist and research meteorologist at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center (CPC), said at the news conference. “Typically, with a more active season, the entire region around the Caribbean Sea, as well as both the Gulf and Atlantic coasts of the United States, are at an increased threat,” Bell said. “When you have a more active season, that’s when you have more storms forming in the tropical Atlantic. Those storms tend to track farther westward, and that’s why the Caribbean and the continental United States are more at risk.” Bell added, “We know certain areas have been compromised from last year’s storms, and that makes hurricane preparedness even more important this year.”

NOAA’s predictions for 2018 follow a forecast issued April 5 by scientists with the Tropical Meteorology Project at Colorado State University (CSU). At the time, the CSU scientists predicted that the 2018 hurricane season would be slightly above average, producing 14 named storms. According to the CSU forecast, about seven storms are anticipated to reach hurricane strength, and three will likely be powerful, destructive hurricanes, Live Science previously reported.

NOAA will issue an update to its forecast in early August, when hurricane season reaches its peak, the agency announced in the statement. [. . .]

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