WEATHER WEEK: Cooler waters could reduce number of named storms


EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Just 39 days into the hurricane season, and already three named storms have developed.

Tropical storm Alberto formed back on May 25, and most recently Beryl, and our current storm Chris off the east coast of the United States. So, what will the 2018 season bring?  

The current outlook from NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) for the remainder of this season calls for 10-16 named storms of which five to nine would be hurricanes. The number of major storms is expected to be one to four.

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Keep in mind this represents the number of storms at sea and not a landfall prediction.

I spoke with Kenneth Graham, the Director of the National Hurricane Center. His message is simple.

“An important sentence is this – it only takes one. If there is one storm on earth and it affects your area – then it’s a busy season. So, preparedness is the same either way,” Graham said.

Prepare, Don’t Panic: Storm Ready Resource Guide »

Sea surface temperatures play a major role in hurricane development, specifically, temperature anomalies. For instance, are the waters running cooler or warmer than average?

Temperature anomalies in the equatorial portion of the Pacific determine if we have an El Niño or La Niña. Last year’s La Niña has disappeared and the waters now may be trending to a weak El Niño.

Storms need warm ocean waters. However, cooler than normal waters currently in the tropical Atlantic could play a major factor.

According to Dr Phil Klotzbach from the University of Colorado these cool waters, along with a weak El Niño expected later in the hurricane season “may” reduce the number of storms. In fact, his updated forecast issued July 2 reduced the number of storms expected to form. This prediction is lower than the current forecast from NOAA. An updated forecast from NOAA will be issued in early August.

So bottom line, we will have to monitor the cooler than average temperatures currently in the tropical Atlantic and the potential for a weak El Niño in the tropical Pacific.

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