Forecast: Brace For Average Atlantic Hurricane Season

Forecast: Brace For Average Atlantic Hurricane Season

Satellite image of Hurricane Katrina

Photo courtesy of NOAA

Last year’s Atlantic hurricane season was virtually non-existent, thanks in large part to El Niño. However, with the naughty climate phase fading, this storm season could be a different story, say Colorado State University climatologists Phil Klotzbach and William Gray.

In the team’s just-released extended-range outlook, the overall call for the 2016 Atlantic basin hurricane season is for activity to be average.

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According to the report, the current weakening El Niño is likely to transition to either neutral or La Niña conditions by the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season. This should reduce the wind shear and steering forces that led to last season’s tropical slumber.

In addition, Gray and Klotzbach note in their forecast: While the tropical Atlantic is relatively warm, the far North Atlantic is quite cold, which could sap the energy needed to crank up more storms.

2016 Extended Atlantic Basin Seasonal Hurricane Forecast*

  • Named Storms: 12
  • Hurricanes: 5
  • Major Hurricanes (Categories 3-5): 2

*The above numbers don’t include Hurricane Alex, which formed in January, a rare occurrence.

As a byproduct of on-average hurricane activity, Gray and Klotzbach also foresee probability for major hurricanes making landfall along the U.S. coastline on par with past data.

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

  • Entire U.S. coastline – 50% (average for last century is 52%)
  • U.S. East Coast including Florida Peninsula – 30% (average for last century is 31%)
  • Gulf Coast from the Florida Panhandle westward to Brownsville, TX – 29% (average for last century is 30%)
  • Caribbean — 40% (average for last century is 42%)

This forecast is scheduled to be updated and revised in early June.

[UPDATED April 18, 2016: Dr. William Gray passed away Saturday, April 16 at age 86.]