Mild or Wild? Here Is Your 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook

Hurricane Matthew-Damaged trellises of Asian vegetables
Even though it wasn’t a direct hit on Florida, Hurricane Matthew wreaked plenty of havoc not only along the Sunshine State’s coastal spots, but also on some of its major farming areas. This planting of Asian vegetables near Hastings, FL, took a serious blow from the storm. Scenes like this were common on farms around the Northeast part of the state.
Photo by Bonnie C. Wells

The 2016 Atlantic Hurricane Season was one to remember, thanks to Hurricane Matthew. The major landfalling storm defined the season that was originally predicted to be just slightly more active than previous campaigns.

For 2017, conditions might swing the other way if El Niño has something to say about it. According to the just-released Extended Range Forecast from Colorado State University Climatologist Phil Klotzbach, the Atlantic basin will experience slightly below-average activity, due in part to the likeliness of the current neutral climate phase transitioning to either a weak or moderate El Niño by the peak (mid-September) of the Atlantic hurricane season.

Wind-sheer patterns over the Atlantic basin and cooler-than-normal water temperatures typical of an El Niño phase tend to thwart tropical activity. To that end, Klotzbach notes in his outlook that the tropical Atlantic has “anomalously cooled over the past month and the far North Atlantic is relatively cold.”

2017 Extended Atlantic Basin Seasonal Hurricane Forecast

  • Named Storms: 11
  • Hurricanes: 4
  • Major Hurricanes (Categories 3-5): 2

How Florida Agriculture Weathered Hurricane Matthew’s Greatest Hits [Slideshow]

With the chance for lesser tropical activity, Klotzbach follows suit with his prediction of a lower-than-average chance for major hurricanes making landfall along the U.S. and Caribbean coastlines.

Probabilities For At Least One Major Hurricane Landfall On Each Of The Following Coastal Areas

  • Entire U.S. coastline – 42% (average for last century is 52%)
  • U.S. East Coast including Florida Peninsula – 24% (average for last century is 31%)
  • Gulf Coast from the Florida Panhandle westward to Brownsville, TX – 24% (average for last century is 30%)
  • Caribbean — 34% (average for last century is 42%)

This forecast is slated to be updated in early June. Stay tuned.

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