Computer Forecasts Indicate A Historic Atlantic Hurricane Season

There is a 90 percent chance of at least one named storm forming in the Atlantic this year, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said. A season that saw 23 named storms, nine hurricanes and two major hurricanes (Category 3, Category 4), ranked in the top five years for a damaging Atlantic hurricane season. Florida and neighboring states were devastated by Hurricane Andrew (1991) and Hurricane Katrina (2005). This year we’ve been well ahead of the average of 11.4 named storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes, which may extend well beyond our peak of hurricane season. No doubt, record droughts have contributed to a subdued Hurricane season. Below the tropics, large areas of high pressure are keeping steering patterns and low pressure in check. As a result, warm tropical air is moving further northward over the Atlantic, resulting in widespread monsoon activity. Most forecasts are predicting above-average rainfall for an extensive part of the eastern and central Atlantic. This activity is no doubt linked to more intense El Niño events. While the official outlook from NOAA and the NHC is for a near-average season, we should be cautious with our predictions, since everyone had hoped the storms would appear the year before and this happened. This year, the active weather pattern is expected to shift towards the north across the Caribbean and towards eastern Africa. This should play a part in keeping larger area of low pressure and steering patterns over the deep ocean. Ultimately, while the El Niño pattern has disappeared, the high pressure pattern has only moved east across the Atlantic. In the meantime, water temperatures remain in the warm to near-normal range for the region. Recent rapid-fire development along the equator in the Pacific Ocean has caused the total count of tropical cyclones to rapidly increase. Projected strength at tropical storm intensity could place more storms in the seven- to ten-day range. Overall, this storm season could be on track to be the most damaging since the Great 2005 Hurricane Storm, with the two strongest hurricanes Irma and Florence. Florida is likely to be slightly worse-off than 2017. More local issues: Category 4 Hurricane Florence threatened at least 3 states when it devastated North Carolina and southeastern Virginia. The twisters had the potential to kill 20 people. The width of storm surge and winds exceeded historic proportions. On October 3, Hurricane Michael made landfall and brought catastrophic damage to the areas north of Tallahassee, Florida. Incredibly, the strongest storm ever to hit the U.S. made landfall in Florida for the first time in October. Hurricane Michael occurred 3 years after Hurricane Irma. Most recently, Hurricane Charley battered the Florida Panhandle and southwest Georgia in August of 2004.

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