On August 9th, NOAA issued its updated hurricane outlook for 2017. The update highlights what is expected to be an active year in the Atlantic Basin. NOAA issues two outlooks during the year, with the first in May, and an update in August.
In the August update, forecasters from the Climate Prediction Center (CPC) increased the likelihood of an above-normal season from 45% to 60%. The outlook also increase the estimated number of named systems from 11-17 to 14-19, along with a slight increase in the number of major hurricanes. Over the first nine weeks of the hurricane season, six named storms have already churned up in the Atlantic. With the average seasonal peak on the way, more tropical storms are expected to continue with the above average trend.
So why is this year expected to be above average? And why did the certainty increase in the August update? Forecasters from the CPC cited that above average sea surface temperatures, along with weakening trade winds within the northern tropics. Another factor was the significant decrease in the chance of an El Nino forming, which tends to suppress tropical activity.
“We’re now entering the peak of the season when the bulk of the storms usually form…The wind and air patterns in the area of the tropical Atlantic and Caribbean where many storms develop are very conducive to an above-normal season.” Gerry Bell, Ph.D., Lead Seasonal Hurricane Forecaster, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center
Residents living along the Gulf and Atlantic Coasts are encouraged to have their hurricane preparedness plans in place, and continue to check of updates from the National Hurricane Center for the latest forecast. Preparing early for a potential evacuation and dangerous storm serge can reduce loss of property and even lives when impacted by a tropical storm.
“As we enter the height of hurricane season, it’s important for everyone to know who issues evacuation orders in their community, heed the warnings, update their insurance and have a preparedness plan.” Brock Long, FEMA Administrator