NOAA Predicts 'Near-Normal' Hurricane Season

May 24, 2012 06:07 AM

Conditions in the atmosphere and the ocean favor a near-normal hurricane season in the Atlantic Basin this season, NOAA announced today. For the six-month season which begins June 1, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center says there’s a 70% chance of nine to 15 named storms (with top winds of 39 mph or higher), of which four to eight will strengthen to a hurricane (with top winds of 74 mph or higher) and of those one to three will become major hurricanes (with top winds of 111 mph or higher, ranking Category 3, 4 or 5).

NOAA says favoring storm development in 2012 is the the continuation of the overall conditions associated with the Atlantic high-activity era that began in 1995, in addition to near-average sea surface temperatures across much of the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, known as the Main Development Region. However, two factors now in place that can limit storm development, if they persist, are strong wind shear -- which is hostile to hurricane formation in the Main Development Region -- and cooler sea surface temperatures in the far eastern Atlantic.

Check this link for a list of names for 2012 tropical storms.

"Another potentially competing climate factor would be El Niño if it develops by late summer to early fall. In that case, conditions could be less conducive for hurricane formation and intensification during the peak months (August-October) of the season, possibly shifting the activity toward the lower end of the predicted range," said Gerry Bell, Ph.D., lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.

Juli says: Interestingly, traders look to the hurricane forecast as a gauge to how much moisture will be available to the South for crops during the growing season. A "near-normal" hurricane season doesn't suggest any help to drought in the region.

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