The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released its 2014 Atlantic hurricane season prediction today. NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center is forecasting a “near-normal” or “below-normal” season.
NOAA is predicting 8 to 13 named storms, 3 to 6 hurricanes, and 1 to 2 major (Cat. 3+) hurricanes.
For comparison, average is 12 named storms, 6 hurricanes, and 3 major hurricanes.
NOAA also released seasonal outlook probabilities: a 50% chance of a below average season, a 40% chance of an average season, and a 10% chance of an above average season.
The main influence in this year’s seasonal outlook is the expected development of El Niño this summer. El Niño is an area of warm ocean water that periodically develops off the Pacific coast of South America and can influence global climate patterns. El Niño tends to cause causes stronger wind shear, which reduces the number and intensity of tropical cyclones. El Niño can also increase the atmospheric stability in the tropical Atlantic, making it more difficult for systems to intensify.
As with any tropical season outlook, the numbers are interesting to note but it is the location of the tropical systems that can make all the difference. A historically active season is still “quiet” if no systems make landfall. On the flip side, a numerically low season can be a “bad one” if we see multiple landfalls on the East Coast.
Note: The Atlantic Hurricane Season starts on June 1st.
-Meteorologist Myles Henderson