Note to Reporters: The full report and photos are available at http://news.colostate.edu or http://tropical.atmos.colostate.edu/. An analysis of the 2013 forecast bust is available at: http://tropical.atmos.colostate.edu.
Colorado State University researchers are calling for 10 named storms – including four hurricanes – to form during the 2014 Atlantic hurricane season, a slight increase from their April forecast.
The CSU Tropical Meteorology Project team continues to predict a below-average hurricane season for the Atlantic basin, citing the likely development of an El Niño and the persistence of cool anomalies in the tropical Atlantic.
But researchers upped their predictions from nine named storms to 10 and from three hurricanes to four with one reaching major (Saffir/Simpson category 3-4-5) hurricane strength with sustained winds of 111 miles per hour or greater, because they are unsure how strong the expected El Niño will be.
In addition, the Atlantic has anomalously warmed since early April, although it is still significantly cooler than in most active hurricane years.
“The tropical Atlantic remains cooler than normal, and the chances of a moderate to strong El Niño event this summer and fall appear to be relatively high,” said Phil Klotzbach, lead author of the CSU hurricane report. “Historical data indicate fewer storms form in these conditions. But we have seen some conditions change in a manner to make the season slightly more favorable for storm formation, which prompted us to increase our predictions.”
The team bases its forecasts on over 60 years of historical data that include Atlantic sea surface temperatures, sea level pressures, vertical wind shear levels (change in wind direction and speed with height in the atmosphere), El Niño (warming of waters in the central and eastern tropical Pacific), and other factors.
“So far, the 2014 season is exhibiting characteristics similar to the 1957, 1963, 1997, 2002, and 2009 hurricane seasons, all of which had normal or below-normal hurricane activity,” Klotzbach said.
The team predicts that 2014 tropical cyclone activity will be about 70 percent of the average season. By comparison, 2013’s tropical cyclone activity was about 45 percent of the average season.
The CSU team will issue a brief update on July 1 and a final full forecast on July 31. (The Atlantic hurricane seasons runs from June 1 to Nov. 30.)
This is the 31st year that CSU researchers have issued the Atlantic basin season hurricane forecast.
The CSU forecast is intended to provide a best estimate of activity to be experienced during the upcoming season, not an exact measure.
William Gray, who founded the report, cautioned coastal residents to take the proper hurricane precautionary measures each year, regardless of the amount of activity being forecast.
“It takes only one landfall event near you to make this an active season,” he said.
The report also includes the probability of major hurricanes making landfall in the United States:
• 40 percent for the entire U.S. coastline (average for the last century is 52 percent)
• 22 percent for the East Coast including the Florida peninsula (average for the last century is 31 percent)
• 23 percent for the Gulf Coast from the Florida panhandle westward to Brownsville, Texas (average for the last century is 30 percent)
• 32 percent for the Caribbean (average for the last century is 42 percent)
The forecast team also tracks the likelihood of tropical storm-force, hurricane-force and major hurricane-force winds occurring at specific locations along the coastal United States, the Caribbean and Central America through its Landfall Probability website. (http://www.e-transit.org/hurricane.)
The site provides information for all coastal states as well as 11 regions and 205 individual counties along the U.S. coastline from Brownsville to Eastport, Maine. Landfall probabilities for regions and counties are adjusted based on the current climate and its projected effects on the upcoming hurricane season.
Klotzbach and Gray update the site regularly with assistance from the GeoGraphics Laboratory at Bridgewater State University in Massachusetts.
EXTENDED RANGE ATLANTIC BASIN HURRICANE FORECAST FOR 2014
-Released June 2, 2014-
Tropical Cyclone Parameters Extended Range
(1981-2010 Climatological Median Forecast for 2014
Named Storms (12)* 10
Named Storm Days (60.1) 40
Hurricanes (6.5) 4
Hurricane Days (21.3) 15
Major Hurricanes (2.0) 1
Major Hurricane Days (3.9) 3
Accumulated Cyclone Energy (92) 65
Net Tropical Cyclone Activity (103%) 70
* Numbers in ( ) represent medians based on 1981-2010 data.