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Atlantic Hurricane Season Officially Starts June 1: What Can We Expect?

May 30, 2019 Leave a comment DRI Admin

“Near-normal” is the current prediction for this year’s June-November Atlantic Hurricane Season. But what does that actually mean, and how are these storms being tracked?

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center expects a 40% chance of a near-normal season, with a likely range of 15-19 named storms with winds of 39 mph or higher, with the potential for four to eight becoming hurricanes, meaning winds of 74 mph or higher. On average, hurricane season produces 12 named storms.

But don’t get too comfortable – there’s also a 30% chance of a below-normal season, and a 30% chance of an above-normal season.

This year, NOAA is also bringing out three new initiatives to improve both its forecasting and communications capabilities about storms during the season:

  • An upgrade to its Global Forecast System – the first major upgrade in almost 40 years – to improve tropical cyclone track and intensity forecasts
  • Expansion of the coastal storm surge watches and warnings to include Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, with displays of excessive rainfall outlooks to boost visibility of dangerous inland threats, and
  • The Hurricane Hunter aircraft, which will collect higher-resolution radar data, to be transmitted in near-real time to the National Hurricane Center and National Weather Service forecast offices.

Meanwhile, the Pacific basin hurricane season is predicted to have a 70% chance of an above-normal season (including named storms, hurricanes, and tropical cyclones) for both the eastern and central regions.

And while June 1 is the official start of the season, the first named storm has already arrived – Subtropical Storm Andrea appeared on May 27 southwest of Bermuda. Though it dissipated quickly, it’s still a reminder to keep a close watch on the weather. “Normal” season or not, it only takes one storm to create a disaster.