NOAA Predicts an Active Hurricane Season

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Image courtesy of NOAA NWS National Hurricane Center Facebook page.

The hurricane season that begins next week will be an active one, according to a forecast released Thursday by NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.

NOAA is forecasting a 75 percent chance that the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season will be near- or above-normal.

“With the advances made in hardware and computing over the course of the last year, the ability of NOAA scientists to both predict the path of storms and warn Americans who may find themselves in harm’s way is unprecedented,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration comes under the purview of Commerce. “The devastating hurricane season of 2017 demonstrated the necessity for prompt and accurate hurricane forecasts.”

NOAA’s forecasters predict a 70 percent likelihood of 10 to 16 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher,) of which five to nine could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher.) Of those, one to four are expected to reach the status of major hurricanes (category 3, 4 or 5; with winds of 111 mph or higher.)

An average hurricane season produces 12 named storms, of which six become hurricanes, including three major hurricanes, according to the government science agency.

NOAA forecasters predict a 35 percent chance of an above-normal season, a 40 percent chance of a near-normal season, and a 25 percent chance of a below-normal season for the upcoming hurricane season, which extends from June 1 to Nov. 30.

The NOAA forecast coincides with the prediction in April from Colorado State University’s Tropical Meteorology Project, which called for a “slightly above average” 2018 hurricane season.

A year ago, CSU’s forecasters forecast a slightly below average season in April 2017, then upgraded the forecast to average just before the season started. Similarly, NOAA had predicted an average season for 2017. Those forecasts seem almost amusing now, after three major storms: Harvey, which caused massive flooding in the southern U.S., followed by Hurricanes Irma and Maria, two Category 5 monsters that strafed the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. The islands are still recovering from those blasts.

It’s a reminder of the adage that it only takes one hurricane to ruin your whole season, if you happen to be where it hits.