The Atlantic hurricane season officially starts today, even though we already had two named storms in May. The last time there were two out-of-season tropical storms was in 1908! It's a quick start, to be sure, but what does it mean for the rest of the season?
In a two words: Jack squat.
The average number of named storms per year (from 1981-1210) is twelve. Six of those turn into hurricanes on average, and three turn into major storms (Category Three or higher). Colorado State University predicts 10 named storms, four hurricanes, and two major hurricanes.
But what the heck do they know, they are land-locked in a state that can’t even see the ocean on a good day, right? I kid, they are usually right on the money.
NOAA says there will be nine to 15 named storms, four to eight hurricanes, and one to three major hurricanes.
What do these experts look at to predict the numbers? The main things are sea surface temperatures and wind shear. So far, the sea surface temperatures are near average for the Atlantic Basin, and even a little below average in the Eastern Atlantic. The warmer the water, the better it is for storm formation. The magic number for a hurricane to maintain or gain strength is around 80 degrees Farenheit.
The wind shear is seems to be average right now as well, but there is an El Nino that should develop in the late summer/early fall. That would edge the jetstream farther south over the prime development region for hurricanes. The more they interact with the jetstream, the more they encounter wind shear, and the harder it is for them to gain strength. Let’s hope that happens!
Here’s a look at the names, keeping in mind that we have already seen Alberto and Beryl: nhc.noaa.gov/aboutnames.shtml
I’m looking at some of the names, and they don’t seem like they could ever be a threat. “Oh, it’s hurricane... Gordon." Gordon? Gordon sounds like a nice guy! Just don’t let your guard down, though -- even a nice guy like Gordon could be deadly.