BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) – Nine days before the start of Atlantic hurricane season June 1st – bad news; we could see another busy summer. That’s the assessment from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) as they released their projection for tropical storms. There could be anywhere from 13 to 20 named storms, of which 7 to 11 could become hurricanes. As many as three to six of those hurricanes could be Category 3 of higher. The graphic above shows that the forecast is above the seasonable average for tropical systems. Hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 1 and as we saw last year, there can be storms as late as October – remember Sandy? There are people in the Northeast still recovering from that monster system.
So, what’s driving the active season? Much of the same factors that made the last three years some of the busiest ever. Since 2010, there have been 19 named storms each year – a new record. Tropical systems thrive on warm ocean water above 80°; Atlantic and Caribbean waters are already heating up. Upper-level winds need to be fairly weak so they don’t tear apart developing storms.
Note that the NOAA forecast does not indicate where the storms will occur nor does it indicate where landfall, if any,will happen. Often, the majority of storms that form in a season meander in the Atlantic and never threaten land. However, all it takes is one land-falling storm in a highly populated coastal area to leave a long-lasting memory of misery. So while many coastal residents mark the “unofficial” start of summer this weekend, they would do well to begin stocking up on supplies in light of this forecast.