Active or “extremely active” hurricane season predicted by NOAA

WASHINGTON D.C., United States, Monday May 27, 2013 – The United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is forecasting an active or extremely active hurricane season this year.

In its 2013 Atlantic hurricane season outlook, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Centre, said 2013 would be prolific in raising storms out of the Atlantic and the Caribbean. 

For the six-month hurricane season, which begins June 1, NOAA’s Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook says there is a 70 percent likelihood of 13 to 20 named storms, with winds of 39 miles per hour (mph) or higher.

NOAA said seven to 11 of those storms could become hurricanes with winds of 74 mph or higher, including three to six major hurricanes – Category 3, 4 or 5 and  winds of 111 mph or higher. 

“These ranges are well above the seasonal average of 12 named storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes,” it said. 

NOAA acting administrator Dr Kathryn Sullivan said with the devastation of Hurricane Sandy still fresh in many people’s minds and another active season predicted “everyone at NOAA is committed to providing life-saving forecasts in the face of these storms”.

Hurricane Sandy killed many people as it made its way across the Caribbean to the north-east US. 

NOAA said three climate factors that strongly control Atlantic hurricane activity are expected to come together to produce an “active or extremely active 2013 hurricane season”.

It said these comprise a continuation of the atmospheric climate pattern, which includes a strong West African Monsoon, which is “responsible for the ongoing era of high activity for Atlantic hurricanes that began in 1995”.

Warmer-than-average water temperatures in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea also contribute to the “active or extremely active 2013 hurricane season”.

In addition, NOAA said El Niño is not expected to develop and suppress hurricane formation. 

Meteorologists say El Niño is a warming of ocean water off the west coast of South America, which often depresses the Atlantic hurricane season due to higher instances of wind shear as storms develop. 

In its absence, the Atlantic season can be more active, forecasters say.

“This year, oceanic and atmospheric conditions in the Atlantic basin are expected to produce more and stronger hurricanes,” said Dr Gerry Bell, lead seasonal hurricane forecaster with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Centre. 

“These conditions include weaker wind shear, warmer Atlantic waters and conducive wind patterns coming from Africa,” he added. 

NOAA’s seasonal hurricane outlook comes as Colorado State University (CSU) predicts four major hurricanes and nine hurricanes for the 2013 hurricane season.(CMC) Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)