JACKSONVILLE, Fla – Several winter storms packing hurricane force winds in the Atlantic this past week have marched across the ocean in a sequence reminiscent to last hurricane season.
Don’t mistake these systems as hurricanes. Yes the swirl of clouds pack winds over 74 mph but they differ by harnessing their energy from upper level high winds and cold air aloft unlike hurricanes powered by warm water.
The fury of the storms were strong enough that stratospheric air on the edge of space wrapped around the southern section of the storm and surface pressure dropped to 959 mb at the storm center.
Could such strong winter storms be a precursor to activity this summer? Probably not, but some factors could make the summer hurricane season active including the warm water in the Atlantic.
Part of the seasonal hurricane forecast is to anticipate the sea surface temperatures in for the upcoming summer.
A historically warm subtropical Atlantic makes it nearly impossible to predict at this time halfway out to the peak of hurricane season.
But the water is warmer than average now, and if it stays unchanged, hurricanes will certainly make use of the “fertilizer.”
As seasonal long range hurricane forecasters begin making preseason predictions, the state of El Niño plays a critical role in activity.
The warm Pacific water event called El Niño typically reduces Atlantic hurricane activity.
Exactly how it evolves into summer will be extremely important for this year's seasonal hurricane forecasts.
Latest forecasts from a suite of models is about evenly split between a warm water Pacific El Niño during peak Atlantic hurricane season (August-October).
Hopefully when Colorado State University reveals their predictions April 4th, 2019 the numbers will be low.
Meantime we will be watching for stronger El Niño development to pave the way for a quieter hurricane season.