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NOAA issues hurricane season forecasts

NOAA has issued its 2014 hurricane season forecasts. The Eastern Pacific and Central Pacific areas should see near-normal or above-normal hurricane seasons; whilst a near-normal or below-normal season is predicted for the Atlantic zone.

A summary of the three forecasts is below:

2014 Atlantic hurricane outlook

In its 2014 Atlantic hurricane season outlook NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center is forecasting a near-normal or below-normal season.

The main driver of this year’s outlook is the anticipated development of El Niño this summer. El Niño causes stronger wind shear, which reduces the number and intensity of tropical storms and hurricanes. El Niño can also strengthen the trade winds and increase the atmospheric stability across the tropical Atlantic, making it more difficult for cloud systems coming off of Africa to intensify into tropical storms.

The outlook calls for a 50 percent chance of a below-normal season, a 40 percent chance of a near-normal season, and only a 10 percent chance of an above-normal season. For the six-month hurricane season, which begins June 1, NOAA predicts a 70 percent likelihood of 8 to 13 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 3 to 6 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 1 to 2 major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of 111 mph or higher).

These numbers are near or below the seasonal averages of 12 named storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes, based on the average from 1981 to 2010. The Atlantic hurricane region includes the North Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico.

Eastern Pacific hurricane season

NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center has announced that a near-normal or above-normal hurricane season is likely for the Eastern Pacific this year. The outlook calls for a 50 percent chance of an above-normal season, a 40 percent chance of a near-normal season, and a 10 percent chance of a below normal season.

Seasonal hurricane forecasters are calling for a 70 percent chance of 14 to 20 named storms, which includes 7 to 11 hurricanes, of which 3 to 6 are expected to become major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale).

An average Eastern Pacific hurricane season produces 15 named storms, with eight becoming hurricanes and four becoming major hurricanes. The Eastern Pacific hurricane season runs from May 15 through Nov. 30, with peak activity from July through September.

“The key climate factor behind the outlook is the likely development of El Niño this summer. El Niño decreases the vertical wind shear over the eastern tropical Pacific, favoring more and stronger tropical storms and hurricanes,” said Gerry Bell, Ph.D., lead seasonal hurricane forecaster with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, part of the US National Weather Service. “The eastern Pacific has been in an era of low activity for hurricanes since 1995, but this pattern will be offset in 2014 by the impacts of El Niño.”

Central Pacific hurricane season

NOAA’s Central Pacific Hurricane Center announced that climate conditions point to a near-normal or above-normal season in the Central Pacific Basin this year.

For 2014, the outlook calls for a 40 percent chance of a near-normal season, a 40 percent chance of an above-normal season, and a 20 percent chance of a below-normal season. We expect 4 to 7 tropical cyclones to affect the central Pacific this season. An average season has 4-5 tropical cyclones, which include tropical depressions, tropical storms and hurricanes.

This outlook is based upon the expectation of El Niño developing during the 2014 hurricane season. El Niño decreases the vertical wind shear over the tropical central Pacific, favoring the development of more and stronger tropical cyclones. Since 1995 the central Pacific has been in an era of low activity for hurricanes, but this pattern will be offset in 2014 by the impacts of El Niño.

•Date: 27th May 2014 • US •Type: Article • Topic: DR general

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