2018 Hurricane Season Predictions Coming in Hot
[Updated May 25]
Are the tropics stirring again to dole out more disaster this hurricane season? Early predictions from NOAA forecasters are pointing to a high probability of another active campaign in the Atlantic Basin. According to the government agency’s just-released 2018 Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook, predictions include a 35% chance of an above-normal season, a 40% chance of a near-normal season, and a 25% chance of a below-normal season, which officially runs from June 1 to November 30. And as if on cue, a system that was brewing in the southern Gulf of Mexico at the time of this posting had developed into the season’s first named storm (Alberto).
The Climate Prediction Center’s outlook, which is calling for 10 to 16 named storms; 5 to 9 hurricanes – 1 to 4 potentially major – comes in close to the extended forecast figures released in early April by Phil Klotzbach of Colorado State University.
As usual with hurricane season prognostication, all eyes are on climate patterns. The possibility of a weak El Niño developing, along with near-average sea surface temperatures across the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, are two major factors driving this outlook, according to NOAA.
The current climate phase forecast for the next three months, courtesy of the International Research Institute for Climate and Society, indicates neutral conditions prevailing. Historically, La Niña years are associated with heightened hurricane activity in the Atlantic, compared to the cooling water effect seen during El Niño-dominant years. Of course, hurricanes can and do occur during any climate phase.
In addition to the Atlantic hurricane season outlook, NOAA also issued seasonal hurricane outlooks for the eastern and central Pacific basins. It appears weather watchers will have more than enough to keep them busy in the coming months. An 80% chance of a near- or above-normal season is predicted for both regions.
NOAA is scheduled to update its 2018 Atlantic seasonal outlook in early August.