Below average tropical season looking more likely
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Climate Prediction Center forecasters have increased the likelihood for a below normal tropical season with Thursday's updated Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook.
Experts are now projecting a 70% chance of a below normal season, while at season's beginning that chance stood at 50%.
Specifically, forecasters are now calling for 7-12 named storms, 3-6 hurricanes and 0-2 major hurricanes compared to the pre-season prediction of 8-13 named storms, 3-6 hurricanes and 1-2 major hurricanes. The updated numbers include Arthur and Bertha which have already come and gone.
There are a few reasons for increased confidence in a below normal season.
Atmospheric conditions remain unfavorable for tropical cyclone development. Strong vertical wind shear, a weaker West African monsoon, increased atmospheric stability and sinking air motions all contribute to fewer storms coming off of the African Coast. Plus, these conditions mean those that do develop will have a tougher time reaching hurricane status.
Oceanic conditions are not favorable for storm development either. Below-average water temperatures are extremely cool when compared to the remainder of the global tropics.
The unfavorable atmosphere and cooler waters are even more exaggerated now that initially projected to be in May.
In addition, El Nino is still likely to develop later this year and suppress storm development by enhancing the aforementioned conditions. El Nino is anticipated to emerge sometime between August and October, peaking in late fall or early winter. Of course, the emergence time frame falls in the peak of hurricane season.
Still, Gerry Bell, Ph.D., lead seasonal forecaster at NOAA's CPC advises coastal residents to remain on alert as storms can still strike the U.S. despite below average activity-evidencing Arthur which made landfall in North Carolina during early July.
It only takes one.
You can get forecasts from Meteorologist Josh Eachus weekdays on 2une-In from 5-7am and News 2 at Noon from 12-1pm. Additionally, you can get the fastest and latest forecasts and weather news by checking in with wbrz.com/weather, connecting with Josh on Google+ and following him on Twitter.