TAMPA, Fl. (WFLA) – Hurricane season begins on June 1, less than two months away, and the first official early season forecast is in from Colorado State University.
Dr. Philip Klotzbach and his team of meteorologists are predicting a slightly above average season with 16 named storms, 8 hurricanes and 4 major hurricanes. An average season, based on the last 30 years, sees 12 named storms, 6 hurricanes and 3 major hurricanes.
There were a few reasons for their above average forecast. Dr. Klotzbach looked at the sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic and they are already running quite a bit above average. The water will likely only get warmer as we head into the summer months. Warm water is one of the main components needed to form a hurricane and with plenty of it, a few more storms may be able to feed off of it.
The other main reason for the higher than normal numbers is the lack of El nino. El nino is a phase of the atmospheric circulation pattern ENSO. During the El nino phase, warmer than normal waters pool up off the South American coastline. This can correlate to stronger winds downwind, in the Atlantic which is not favorable for storm development.
Looking into the summer months, the water temperatures in the Pacific indicate the phase will be more neutral or even turn into a weak La nina, rather than an El nino.
This could provide slightly more favorable conditions for tropical cyclones to develop during hurricane season.
Dr. Klotzbach says the early April forecast has “modest long-term skill when evaluated in hindcast mode” and issues them because there is “general interest in knowing what the odds are for an active or inactive season” among the public. He also says that the early season forecasts show improvement compared to looking at climatology, historical seasons, alone.
The most important part to remember is that it doesn’t really matter how many storms develop this upcoming season. It only takes one storm for it to be a devastating year for the Tampa Bay area. You should be preparing just like you would any season.
With the ongoing world pandemic and many people working from home, now is a great time to make sure your house is prepared for the upcoming season.
Make sure to have shutters, wood or metal, that fit and attach to all the windows on your home. Check that garage door and your roof. Look at your hurricane kit and decide what supplies need to be stocked up. Print new important documents to put in your kit and have a list of medications you would need if a storm threatens. These are just some of the things that should be done before the season begins.