The 2016 Hurricane Season begins today with and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has forecast that there will be a “near average” season.
They predict there will likely see 10 to 16 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher).
Of the named storms, they think 4 to 8 could become hurricanes and between 1 and 4 will develop into major hurricanes – Category 3, 4 or 5 with winds of 111 mph and up.
NOAA said there is a 45-percent chance that there will be a near-normal season, there is also a 30 percent chance of an above-normal season and a 25 percent chance of a below-normal season.
Included in their forecast is Hurricane Alex, a pre-season storm that formed over the far eastern Atlantic in January.
Hurricane researchers at Colorado State University have predicted that there will see 13 named storms (which includes Hurricane Alex), six of which will become hurricanes and two will become major hurricanes.
Below is part of a report by NOAA on the 2016 Hurricane Season
NOAA’s 2016 Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook indicates that a near-normal hurricane season is most likely. The outlook calls for a 45% chance of a near-normal season, a 30% chance of an above-normal season, and a 25% chance of a below-normal season. See NOAA definitions of above-, near-, and below-normal seasons. The Atlantic hurricane region includes the North Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico.
a. Predicted Activity
This is a more challenging hurricane season outlook than most because it is difficult to determine whether there will be reinforcing or competing climate influences on tropical storm development. The outlook calls for a 70% probability for each of the following ranges of activity during the 2016 hurricane season:
• 10-16 Named Storms, which includes Alex in January
• 4-8 Hurricanes, which includes Alex in January
• 1-4 Major Hurricanes
• Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) range of 65%-140% of the median, which includes Alex in January
The seasonal activity is expected to fall within these ranges in 70% of seasons with similar climate conditions and uncertainties to those expected this year. These ranges do not represent the total possible ranges of activity seen in past similar years. These expected ranges are centered near the 1981-2010 seasonal averages of 12 named storms, 6 hurricanes, and 3 major hurricanes.
b. Reasoning behind the outlook
NOAA’s Atlantic hurricane season outlook is based on predictions of the main climate factors known to influence seasonal Atlantic hurricane activity, along with model predictions of regional and global atmospheric and oceanic conditions.
A main climate factor that influences the Atlantic hurricane season, called the Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation (AMO), sets the backdrop upon which other climate phenomena such as El Niño and La Niña overlay. The AMO results in Atlantic hurricane seasons exhibiting 25-40 year periods of generally above-normal activity (called a high-activity era) followed by 25-40 years of generally below-normal activity (called a low-activity era). At present, there is uncertainty as to whether or not the warm AMO and high-activity era for Atlantic hurricanes which began in 1995 has ended, and whether a cool AMO and low-activity era similar to that observed during 1971-1994 has begun.
Two other sources of uncertainty for this outlook are the rate at which the current El Niño impacts dissipate and the rate at which La Niña subsequently develops and intensifies. La Niña favors a more active hurricane season, and the Climate Prediction Center currently predicts about a 70% chance of La Niña during the peak months (August-October) of the hurricane season.
Therefore, it is difficult to predict whether there will be reinforcing or competing climate factors during the hurricane season. The current outlook reflects three general scenarios, each of which has historically produced different hurricane season strengths.
• Scenario 1: Above-normal season most likely if both La Niña and the conditions associated with the high-activity era and warm AMO develop
• Scenario 2: Near-normal season most likely if La Niña develops and the conditions associated with a low-activity era and cool AMO also develop.
• Scenario 3: Below-normal season likelihood increases if La Niña does not develop and conditions typically associated with a low-activity era and cool AMO do develop.
Because of these differing scenarios, there is reduced confidence in predicting whether the season will be above normal or below normal.
This Atlantic hurricane season outlook will be updated in early August, which coincides with the onset of the peak months of the hurricane season.