Hurricane Forecast Update: More Hurricanes Likely

Hurricane Michael         Photo: NOAA

On Thursday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center updated its hurricane outlook for the rest of the season (which goes through November) and determined that because the summer’s weak El Niño has faded, the season will be more active than previously forecast.  The Associated Press reported that as the “peak” of hurricane season begins they are now expecting 10 to 17 named storms, with five to nine hurricanes and two to four major ones, up from their May forecast of one or two fewer named storms and hurricanes. Yikes!

Why This Matters:  The “small” change of one or two “more” major storms could mean a huge difference in lives lost (Hurricane Maria) or financial losses (Hurricane Michael).  The good news is that the forecast precision is improving — with more time to prepare and more accurate prediction of where a storm will make landfall.  The bad news is that each of these storms has the potential to be debilitating — particularly if one were to hit a major metropolitan area.

So Far, So Good.

Only two named storms have already formed this year, according to The New York Times, including Barry, which made landfall last month on the Gulf Coast.

  • The Climate Prediction Center had said it expected 12 named storms and three major hurricanes based on the continued presence of an El Niño, which is the warm Pacific Ocean water pattern that tends to suppress hurricane activity — they expected the El Niño to persist into October.
  • Specifically, the Prediction Center “raised the likelihood of an above-normal season in the Atlantic to 45 percent, up from 30 percent in the May forecast” and “the chances of a below-normal season have dropped to just 20 percent,” The Times reported.

Climate Change Supercharging Hurricanes

The connection between more frequent El Niño conditions and hurricanes is now more clear to climate scientists and weather forecasters.  In addition, as The Times explains, “some effects of a warming world can suppress hurricane formation by increasing wind shear, a rapid change in wind direction. But, once storms do form, the trend of warming oceans can make those storms more powerful and can cause them to intensify quickly.”  In addition, in coastal areas like Miami and New York, rising sea levels contribute to more damaging storm surges and “wetter” storms with greater rainfall totals which are caused in part by climate change.

Extreme Weather Around the World: Just this week monsoons in India and Pakistan killed hundreds while Typhoon Lekima has affected millions as it swept across China.

Up Next

Deadly Flooding Hitting Japan Just As It Was Beating COVID-19

Deadly Flooding Hitting Japan Just As It Was Beating COVID-19

At least 50 people have died and many others are stranded and unable to get help because of massive flooding in the Southwestern Japan island of Kyushu, where torrential downpours and mudslides turned streets into rivers and washed-out bridges on Monday, with heavy rain expected to continue through Tuesday, Kyodo News reported.

Why This Matters: Torrential downpours and flash floods are increasingly associated with climate change — and the problem is global.

Continue Reading 446 words
Extreme Heat on the Rise in the UK

Extreme Heat on the Rise in the UK

by Julia Fine, ODP Contributing Writer A new study published in Nature Communications reported that UK summer temperatures could soon reach and exceed 40°C (104°F). As Olivia Rosane reported in EcoWatch, UK summers, at present, only hit this high temperature every 100-300 years. However, according to the new study, which was released by the UK […]

Continue Reading 564 words
“Godzilla” Saharan Dust Cloud Reaches U.S. Shores, Decreasing Air Quality in the South

“Godzilla” Saharan Dust Cloud Reaches U.S. Shores, Decreasing Air Quality in the South

Satellite images show a thick dust plume that is more than 5000 miles long, which originates in the African Saraha Desert, has reached South Florida and is expected to have noticeable negative impacts on air quality across the Gulf states this weekend. 

Why This Matters:  A dust cloud this long is rare but it can be quite serious for people with lung conditions.  Many Caribbean islands have experienced dangerous air quality and forecasters are giving the same warnings now in Florida and other southern states.

Continue Reading 523 words