ECB Publishing, Inc.
If the experts have it right, the coming Atlantic tropical storm season will be one of the most active since 2012. So forecasts the Weather Company (WC), an IBM business that bills itself as the world’s largest private weather enterprise, “helping people make informed decisions – and take action – in the face of weather.” In its first forecast for the 2016 hurricane season, which officially begins June 1 and runs through Nov. 30, the WC forecasts a total of 14 named storms — three of them tropical storms; eight, hurricanes; and three, major hurricanes. Accounting for the increased activity this year, according to the WC, are the slightly warmer tropics, in combination with a lack of El Niño, the temporary change in the climate of the Pacific Ocean that occurs periodically in the region around the equator. Dr. Todd Crawford is the WC’s chief meteorologist. He offers that the long-term trends in Atlantic Ocean temperatures suggest that the years of hyperactive tropical seasons may be coming to an end for a while. “Given this trend, along with the background El Niño conditions, the last three seasons have been relatively quiet,” Dr. Crawford says. “However, the expected cessation of El Niño, along with reasonably warm tropical Atlantic sea surface temperatures (SSTs), should provide for a more normal season this year. And if the high-latitude Atlantic blocking persists into the summer, the tropical Atlantic SSTs may warm even more, so there is still some upside risk to the current forecast.” In terms of the 2016 season, Dr. Crawford notes that Hurricane Alex, one of the season’s 14 named storms, already happened in January, an occurrence not seen since 1955. He further notes that the number of storms forecast for this season “are slightly higher than both the 1950-2015 ‘normals’ of 12 named storms, 7 hurricanes and 3 major hurricanes, and very close to the recent ‘active period’ (1995-2015) ‘normals’ of 15 named storms, 8 hurricanes and 3 major hurricanes.” The Atlantic hurricane season applies to the areas of the North Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. The National Weather Service defines a hurricane as “an intense tropical weather system with well-defined circulation and sustained winds of 74 mph (64 knots) or higher.” Hurricanes are rated on a scale of 1 to 5, in terms of their potential for causing property damage. A category 3 or higher rated storm is considered a major hurricane.