Hurricane Season: Is This the End of a 20-Year Era?
Is the Atlantic coast at the end of a 20-year period of active hurricane seasons? The current environment says that may be the case, according to an annual benchmark forecast and other weather indicators.
With the expected below-normal storm activity predicted for this year, “the environment is as non-conducive for hurricanes as we’ve ever seen,” hurricane expert Phil Klotzbach told a crowd at the Casualty Actuarial Society Spring Meeting. This year’s Colorado State University forecast of storms predicts eight named storms and four hurricanes, one with winds of at least 111 miles per hour.
Assuming the forecast holds, 2015 will be the third straight year of mild hurricane activity, causing scientists to wonder if the active hurricane era is at an end. Further evidence: the North Atlantic has gotten colder over the past decade, and ocean salinity is dropping – both indicators of lower hurricane activity.
Meanwhile, an anticipated moderate to strong El Nino is warming Pacific waters near the equator, which create stronger upper-level winds, which “tear apart” storms and stall further hurricane development.
But it only takes one storm to make an active season, Klotzbach reminded the audience, pointing to 1992’s lone Hurricane Andrew, which hit Miami with Category 5 winds and became the most destructive event in insurance history up to that point.