Increase in chance of busy hurricane season

  • Fema official: Pete Gaynor

    Fema official: Pete Gaynor

The chances of a busy hurricane season have increased, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the United States.

Noaa has forecast ten to 17 named storms for 2019, of which between five and nine will reach hurricane strength.

Of those, two to four are expected to reach major hurricane status with winds of 111mph or greater.

Conditions have become more favourable for hurricane growth as the El Niño phenomenon had ended, forecasters said in their midseason update.

Noaa’s Climate Prediction Centre said the likelihood of an above-normal Atlantic hurricane season had grown to 45 per cent, from 30 per cent in its May forecast.

The likelihood of near-normal activity fell from 40 per cent to 35 per cent, and the chance of below-normal activity dropped from 30 per cent to 20 per cent.

So far this season, subtropical storm Andrea dissipated before making landfall in May, while Hurricane Barry hit Louisiana as a Category 1 in July.

The Atlantic experiences 12 named storms and six hurricanes in an average season, of which three become major hurricanes.

Gerry Bell, the lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at Noaa’s Climate Prediction Centre, said: “El Niño typically suppresses Atlantic hurricane activity, but now that it’s gone, we could see a busier season ahead.

“This evolution, combined with the more conducive conditions associated with the ongoing high-activity era for Atlantic hurricanes that began in 1995, increases the likelihood of above normal activity this year.”

Pete Gaynor, the acting Fema administrator, said: “Today’s updated outlook is a reminder to be prepared.

“We urge everyone to learn more about hurricane hazards and prepare now, ahead of time, so that if state and local authorities announce evacuations in advance of a storm, you and your family will have planned where to go and what to do to stay safe.”

Kim Zuill, a meteorologist at the Bermuda Weather Service, said the waters around the island have been warmer than usual for the time of the year — something that can encourage storm growth.

She said: “The sea temperature around us is running at least a couple of degrees above normal for this time of year.

“If a tropical system approaches our area, it will have an increased heat source to aid in intensifying the system — remembering that this is only one ingredient in the recipe of tropical system evolution.”

She added that, regardless of the outlook, only one storm is needed to make the season busy for Bermuda.

Ms Zuill said: “Bermuda has experienced damage from tropical systems that have formed in seasons where the actual seasonal statistics are below average, normal as well as above average.

“There is not a direct correlation between any forecast or changes to a seasonal forecast and landfall statistics for any landmass in our region, including Bermuda.

“As always, the best advice we can give is to keep informed through BWS about the tropical activity in our region, and once a tropical system forms, keep updated on its progress and community effects.”

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Published Aug 9, 2019 at 8:00 am (Updated Aug 9, 2019 at 7:34 am)

Increase in chance of busy hurricane season

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