NOAA predicts 4-8 hurricanes this year, including 2-4 major hurricanes

Near-normal hurricane season’s intensity will be shaped by El Nino and warmer-than-average Atlantic

NOAA predicts 4-8 hurricanes this year, including 2-4 major hurricanes

SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - Ahead of hurricane season, which runs June 1 through November 30, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center is releasing its prediction on what we can expect this year.

According to NOAA, there is a 40% chance of a near-normal season, a 30% chance of an above-normal season and a 30% chance of a below-normal season. NOAA predicts a likely range of 9 to 15 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 4 to 8 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 2 to 4 major hurricanes (category 3, 4 or 5; with winds of 111 mph or higher). NOAA provides these ranges with a 70% confidence. An average hurricane season produces 12 named storms, of which 6 become hurricanes, including 3 major hurricanes.

2019 Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook
2019 Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook (Source: NOAA)

NOAA says their outlook reflects competing climate factors. The ongoing El Nino is expected to persist and suppress the intensity of the hurricane season. Countering El Nino is the expected combination of warmer-than-average sea-surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, and an enhanced west African monsoon, both of which favor increased hurricane activity.

This season, NOAA will have a new fleet of Earth-observing satellites, including three operational next-generation satellites, to provide more data for creating hurricane models. Also, NOAA’s Hurricane Hunter aircraft will collect higher-resolution data from upgraded onboard radar systems, which will be transmitted in near-real time to hurricane specialists at the National Hurricane Center, the Central Pacific Hurricane Center and forecasters at NWS Weather Forecast Offices.

Finally, NOAA’s National Weather Service is making a planned upgrade to its Global Forecast System flagship weather model – often called the American model – early in the 2019 hurricane season. This marks the first major upgrade to the dynamical core of the model in almost 40 years and NOAA says it will improve tropical cyclone track and intensity forecasts.

NOAA says improvements in their ability to forecast means more time for those in the affected areas to make critical decisions.

2019 Atlantic Tropical Cyclone Names
2019 Atlantic Tropical Cyclone Names (Source: NOAA)

In addition to the Atlantic hurricane season outlook, NOAA also issued seasonal hurricane outlooks for the eastern and central Pacific basins. A 70% chance of an above-normal season is predicted for both the eastern and central Pacific regions. The eastern Pacific outlook calls for a 70% probability of 15 to 22 named storms, of which 8 to 13 are expected to become hurricanes, including 4 to 8 major hurricanes. The central Pacific outlook calls for a 70% probability of 5 to 8 tropical cyclones, which includes tropical depressions, tropical storms, and hurricanes.

NOAA’s outlook is for overall seasonal activity and is not a landfall forecast. Hurricane preparedness is critically important for the 2019 hurricane season, just as it is every year. Visit the National Hurricane Center’s website at hurricanes.gov throughout the season to stay current on any watches and warnings.

“Preparing ahead of a disaster is the responsibility of all levels of government, the private sector, and the public," said Daniel Kaniewski, Ph.D., FEMA deputy administrator for resilience. “It only takes one event to devastate a community so now is the time to prepare. Do you have cash on hand? Do you have adequate insurance, including flood insurance? Does your family have communication and evacuation plans? Stay tuned to your local news and download the FEMA app to get alerts, and make sure you heed any warnings issued by local officials.”

NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center will update the 2019 Atlantic seasonal outlook in August just prior to the historical peak of the season.

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