Forecasters Expect 'Above-normal' Atlantic Hurricane Season

Alvin Kelly
May 26, 2017

Specifically, the NHC is predicting a 45-percent chance of an above-normal season, 35-percent chance of a near-normal season and only a 20-percent chance of a below-normal 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season.

Model forecasts show considerable uncertainty as to whether a potential El Niño (ENSO) becomes strong enough to significantly strengthen the hurricane season.

A tropical storm contains wind speeds of 39 miles per hour or higher and becomes a hurricane when winds reach 74 miles per hour.

Forecasters predict 70 percent chances that 11 to 17 named storms will form; that five to nine of them will become hurricanes; and that two to four of those will become major hurricanes.

A new weather satellite will help forecasters see developing storms in greater detail, especially when it moves later this year into a permanent position over the East Coast with a view over the continental US and tropical waters where hurricanes form, Freidman said.

Forecasters consider an average season one with 12 named storms, including six hurricanes.

There already has been a named tropical storm, Arlene, this April in the Atlantic, but it never reached land. He says we can't prevent hurricanes, but we can prepare.

The latest outlook, released today, calls for 11-17 named storms.

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Friedman said it's been 12 years since the United States was hit by a major hurricane, but pointed to storms such as last year's Matthew that did more than $15 billion in damage to the USA and Caribbean.

Announcing the official season forecast, officials also championed technological advances such as storm surge watches and warning, storm track and intensity forecast improvements, drones and a new "hurricane hunter" aircraft.

Those forecasts predicted relatively cooler Atlantic waters and the emergence of El Nino winds that tend to disrupt hurricanes among other factors.

The October storm caused millions of dollars in damages in some areas across southeastern Virginia and northeast North Carolina. The next tropical storm will be named Bret.

When El Niño and vertical winds are more active, they serve as a suppressant for storms.

Robichaud said the Atlantic region has been in an "active period" for hurricanes since 1995.

"But the main point of all of this is preparedness", she said.

The peak of the season comes as summer concludes, so NOAA will release an updated outlook then as well to keep residents well informed.

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