And this year’s forecast is for a fairly quiet summer.
On Thursday, forecasters with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released their seasonal outlook for 2014, predicting eight to 13 named storms would form. This means, most likely, the Atlantic season total will fall below the normal 12 tropical storms and hurricanes during a given year.
Like NOAA’s, other seasonal forecasts issued this spring have predicted 75 to 90 percent of normal activity levels this year. The season runs from June 1 to Nov. 30.
Principally, they expect El Niño to develop this summer in the Pacific Ocean. El Niño, a rise in tropical Pacific sea temperatures, has global weather effects including stronger wind shear in the Atlantic tropics, which reduces the number and intensity of tropical systems.
“Atmospheric and oceanic conditions across the tropical Pacific are already taking on some El Niño characteristics,” said Gerry Bell, NOAA’s lead seasonal forecaster.
Other factors are suggested as well. A number of signs suggest water temperatures in the area of the Atlantic Ocean where storms most commonly form, between Africa and the Caribbean Islands, will be a bit cooler than normal later this summer.
“Cooler water means less heat content available for hurricanes to intensify, resulting in fewer strong hurricanes than normal,” said Chris Hebert, a hurricane forecaster with ImpactWeather, a Houston-based company.
See here for the official NOAA forecast page. Last year’s prediction of a busy season didn’t work out so well, but even the best are going to strike out now and again, and if the process is sound then the results will be there more often than not. Of course as noted even in an otherwise very light season, all it takes is one hurricane to hit where you are and the rest doesn’t matter. So be prepared and remember that if you live in Katy it’s never too early to start evacuating.