JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The nation's lead hurricane forecasters say conditions have become more favorable for above-normal hurricane activity in the Atlantic Ocean and are predicting more tropical storms and hurricanes this season than they saw forming earlier this year.
The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration released an updated forecast Thursday for the 2019 season, saying the end of El Nino will likely lead to more tropical storms and hurricanes in the peak months of the season -- now through October.
“El Nino typically suppresses Atlantic hurricane activity but now that it’s gone, we could see a busier season ahead,” said Gerry Bell, lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. “This evolution, combined with the more conducive conditions associated with the ongoing high-activity era for Atlantic hurricanes that began in 1995, increases the likelihood of above-normal activity this year.”
In May, NOAA predicted there would be nine to 15 named storms, of which four to eight could become hurricanes. They now believe there could be 10 to 17 tropical storms and five to nine hurricanes, two of those major -- Category 3 or above.
So far this year there have been two named storms, one of which became a hurricane. The hurricane season officially ends on Nov. 30.
Tropical systems so far have been weak and short-lived. Although the season had an early May subtropical storm named Andrea, it didn’t last a day nor did Tropical Depression Three.
Tropical Storm Barry briefly reached hurricane strength just as it made landfall near Intracoastal City, Louisiana, on July 13 becoming the first hurricane of the season and possibly one of the shortest-lived hurricanes on record.
Saharan dust and unfavorable upper-level winds have tamed tropical disturbances to date and these conditions are expected to remain in place e through the middle of August.
A large, well-developed disturbance is about to move off of Africa, but it will move into very dry air and is not forecast to develop over the next several days.
While models indicate that the unfavorable upper-level winds will continue over the Caribbean into the middle of August, they may become less hostile elsewhere.