The last of the pre-season hurricane forecasts–from Colorado State University’s Phil Klotzbach and Bill Gray, the latter of whom happens to be a chief character in my new book–is now out (PDF). It is unchanged from the previous Klotzbach/Gray forecast: 17 named storms, 9 hurricanes, and 5 intense hurricanes. Why this prediction? These are the key factors: Warm sea surface temperatures, ENSO-neutral to La Nina conditions expected in the Pacific, and relatively weak trade winds over the Atlantic (meaning less surface evaporation, and thus less heat getting out of the ocean).
The always reliable Jeff Masters has a summary of the Gray forecast that gets into many more of the details and compares it with all the other forecasts out there–from NOAA, from Tropical Storm Risk. As Masters puts it:
The CSU forecast matches up well with the TSR, Inc. forecast (16 named storms, 9 hurricanes, and 4 intense hurricanes) and the NOAA forecast (13-17 named storms, 7-10 hurricanes, and 3-5 major hurricanes). Also, keep in mind that the active hurricane period that began in 1995 has never seen two consecutive years with average or below-average hurricane activity. Given these factors, I am confident that the coming season will be a very active one. The two most recent years that had patterns of El Niño/La Niña events and SSTs similar to what are expected this year were 1995 and 2003. Note that 1995 was the third busiest hurricane season on record, with 19 named storms. However, the great majority of these storms recurved out to sea, since a trough of low pressure settled over the Eastern U.S. I have a similar hope for this season–if the steering currents are your friend, even a top-five hurricane season can have an ordinary number of landfalls. Let’s hope the steering currents are our friend this year!
Batten down the hatches….and indeed, there is already a tropical disturbance in the Caribbean that the forecasters are watching closely. They tell us this:
SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS IN THE NORTHWESTERN CARIBBEAN SEA…SOUTHEASTERN GULF OF MEXICO AND ADJACENT LAND AREAS ARE ASSOCIATED WITH A BROAD AREA OF LOW PRESSURE CENTERED ABOUT 75 MILES SOUTHEAST OF COZUMEL MEXICO. ALTHOUGH THIS SYSTEM HAS SOME POTENTIAL FOR TROPICAL DEVELOPMENT OVER THE NEXT DAY OR SO…THE LOW IS EXPECTED TO MOVE SLOWLY NORTHWARD INTO THE SOUTHERN GULF OF MEXICO WHERE ENVIRONMENTAL CONDITIONS WOULD LIKELY FAVOR FURTHER DEVELOPMENT AS A NON-TROPICAL LOW. REGARDLESS OF DEVELOPMENT…THIS SYSTEM SHOULD BRING HEAVY RAINS ACROSS WESTERN CUBA AND SOUTHERN FLORIDA OVER THE
NEXT COUPLE OF DAYS.