NOAA Predicts Near-Normal Hurricane Season

COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION

COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION

BARNSTABLE – The Atlantic hurricane season gets underway Wednesday and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is predicting near-normal activity.

NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center said there is a 70 percent likelihood of 10 to 16 named storms, of which four to eight could become hurricanes. One to four of those potential hurricanes could be major hurricanes of category 3 strength of higher with winds of at least 111 mph.

“This predicted activity suggests that the season could be more active than we’ve seen during the last three years,” said Dr. Gerry Bell, a hurricane forecaster with NOAA, in a video released by NOAA.

Predictions indicate a 45 percent chance of near-normal activity this season with a 30 percent chance of being above-normal and a 25 percent chance of being below-normal.

The Atlantic Ocean has been in a high activity era for hurricanes since 1995. Bell said there is uncertainty as to whether that era has ended after the last few below-normal seasons.

The high activity era has been marked by warmer ocean temperatures and a stronger West African monsoon, or the warm phase of the Atlantic Multi-Decadal Oscillation, or AMO.

“However, during the last three years weaker hurricane seasons have been accompanied by a shift toward the cool AMO phase, marked by cooler Atlantic Ocean temperatures and a weaker West African monsoon,” Bell said.

If this shift in the climate continues into the future it could usher in a low-activity era for Atlantic hurricanes. The high and low-activity eras typically last between 25 and 40 years.

Researchers also said El Nino is dissipating and the prediction center is forecasting a 70 percent chance that La Nina, which favors more hurricane activity, will have a presence during peak hurricane months from August through October.

“However, current model predictions show uncertainty as to how strong La Nina and its impacts will be,” Bell said.

A near-normal season does not mean that there will not be impacts and that action should be taken now to get ready for the season.

“Once a storm approaches it’s often too late to get ready,” Bell said. “Update your family evacuation plans and communication plans and restock your emergency supply kit and also re-evaluate your flood insurance needs.”

The official hurricane season runs through November 30.

By BRIAN MERCHANT, CapeCod.com NewsCenter

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