Near Normal Hurricane Season Expected
Jun 04, 2012
The 2012 Atlantic hurricane season officially began on June 1st; however, that was after the first two named storms of the year, Alberto and Beryl.
|Image Credit: NOAA
In their annual outlook for the six-month hurricane season, the CPC is predicting a 70% chance of nine to 15 named storms, of which four to eight will strengthen to hurricane strength. Of those that become hurricanes, one to three will become major hurricanes. A major hurricane is defined as having top winds in excess of 111 MPH and a category 3 or more.
By definition, a named storm begins as a Tropical Storm, with winds in excess of 39 MPH.
According to the CPC, an average hurricane season (based on the period 1981-2010) produces 12 named storms with six reaching hurricane strength. Three of those six will become major hurricanes.
Based on that average, the 2012 hurricane forecast is near normal. Still, the forecast is less active compared to recent years.
Forecasters warn that if El Nino develops later this year, conditions could be less favorable for hurricane formation and intensification during the peak fall months of August through October. That could potentially reduce the number of named storms.
NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D. cautions that despite a forecast that is less active than previous years, those in hurricane prone areas should not let their guard down.
“Regardless of the (hurricane) outlook, it’s vital for anyone living or vacationing in hurricane-prone locations to be prepared,” Lubchenco said.
Lubchenco went on to cite the case of Hurricane Andrew which struck South Florida 20 years ago on August 24, 1992. According to Lubchenco, Andrew was the first storm in a late-starting season that only produced six named storms.
2012 is anything but late-starting. May 2012 saw two named storms form off the southeast coast of the US; Alberto and Beryl.
According to Accuweather
, Beryl is the strongest pre-June tropical cyclone to make landfall in the US. Despite the early start to the season, Accuweather’s Long-Range Forecasting Team is also predicting a near-normal hurricane season with 12 named storms, five hurricanes, and two major hurricanes.
Accuweather took their forecast further than the CPC forecast, calling for three landfalls in addition to Beryl with the potential for one major impact landfall event.