Mixed climate factors lead to forecasts of average hurricane season


ORLANDO -- At the Governor's Hurricane Conference here this week, there has been a lot of talk about El Nino, La Nina and their effects on the coming hurricane season.

Say goodbye to El Nino, and make sure the storm shutters are easy to go to. You might need them.

Say goodbye to El Nino, and make sure the storm shutters are easy to go to. You might need them.

The outlook is for about-average season. Average is 12 named storms and six hurricanes.

Here is a rundown of some of the most prominent of the nearly two dozen seasonal hurricane outlooks that are released each year:

-- Colorado State University’s Tropical Meteorology Project, led by Dr. Phil Klotzbach: 12 named storms, 5 hurricanes, 2 major hurricanes (categories 3, 4 or 5, with sustained winds of at least 111 mph). This forecast excludes Alex, so it could be revised to 13/6/2.

-- Accuweather: 14/8/4, with three U.S. landfalls.

-- Weather Channel/Weather Co. — 14/8/3.

-- Coastal Carolina University’s Hurricane Genesis and Outlook (HUGO) Project: 13/7/3, with most likely no hurricanes striking the eastern U. S and one making landfall along the Gulf of Mexico.

-- Met Office, a European group: 14 named storms and 8 hurricanes, excluding Alex.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, parent of the National Weather Service and the National Hurricane Center, will issue its preseason forecast on May 27.

The key factor in the predictions this year is El Nino, the massive pool of warm water in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean. As noted in 2015, El Nino creates westerly winds in the upper atmosphere. The wind shear lops the tops of hurricanes in the tropical Atlantic Ocean, leaving Floridians grateful and their storm shutters in storage for another year.

El Nino is a storm killer. But his particular phenomenon, the third-strongest since 1950, is dying, said Klotzbach.

Instead, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center says there is a 75 percent chance of “La Nina” conditions in the Pacific by the peak of hurricane season in September. La Nina, which is basically the lack of El Nino, does not feed hurricanes, but it does not kill them with shear, either. That increases the chance of hurricanes developing into dangerous systems as they track westward.

Harold Bubil

Recipient of the 2015 Bob Graham Architectural Awareness Award from the American Institute of Architects/Florida-Caribbean, Harold Bubil is real estate editor of the Herald-Tribune Media Group. Born in Newport, R.I., his family moved to Sarasota in 1958. Harold graduated from Sarasota High School in 1970 and the University of Florida in 1974 with a degree in journalism. For the Herald-Tribune, he writes and edits stories about residential real estate, architecture, green building and local development history. He also is a photographer and public speaker. Contact him via email, or at (941) 361-4805.
Last modified: May 13, 2016
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