2015 Atlantic Hurricane Season ForecastPOSTED: 05/11/15 5:43 PM
St. Maarten/USA—The first named storm for the year Ana, made an earlier than usual appearance over the weekend. The yearly active tropical period starts June 1st and lasts through the end of November. Since 1981, the average hurricane season consists of 12 named storms, 6 hurricanes and 3 major ones of Category 3 strength or 111 mph and greater winds. The storms tend to form in the Gulf of Mexico and far western Caribbean during June, July, the birthplaces spread east toward the Leeward Islands.
The August through September peak covers the gulf, Caribbean and the Atlantic Ocean. By October, the tropical storm genesis locations shift back toward North America and end there by November 30th. Climatogically speaking, the Atlantic Hurricane Season thrives when the ocean temperatures are above 80 degrees Fahrenheit, the Saharan Dust is at a minimum and the environmental winds over the tropics are light. So with a normal season in mind, what’s 2015 looking like? Dr. William Gray and Philip Klotzbach, the well known hurricane forecasters at Colorado State University are calling for a quiet season with only 7 named storms, 3 hurricanes with one at Category 3 intensity or better (Figure 5). Their reasoning for a 50% reduction blames El Nino and cool Atlantic ocean waters left over from the cold 2014-15 Winter.
If you recall, El Nino occurs when ocean surface temperatures become abnormally warm in the Pacific Ocean. The warm water’s interaction with the atmosphere causes the weather patterns to change across the world. Thus, the environmental winds over the Atlantic Ocean may be stronger than usual this hurricane season which weakens or keeps the storms from forming altogether. And, the faster winds could cool the ocean waters even more due to up welling. If the CSU tropical forecast pans out, more than one trip to the beach may be in the cards! Although, Hurricane Andrew in 1992 came during a quiet, El Nino season wreaking all kinds of havoc in South Florida and Louisiana.
So, how did these scientists at land locked Colorado State University way up in Fort Collins, Colorado arrive at these forecast numbers? Very carefully, I’m sure. Seriously, the team used statistical data from the last 29 hurricane seasons, dynamic computer forecast models and the El Nino forecast for the rest of the year.