NOAA predicts 'average' Atlantic hurricane season

May 22, 2014
A graphic is presented by NOAA of potential storm surge flooding in the Gulf Coast region as the agency issued the initial outlook for the 2014 Atlantic hurricane season during a press conference May 22, 2014

Forecasters predict the 2014 Atlantic hurricane season will be "near or below average," thanks to an expected El Nino phenomenon, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Thursday.

But the US agency said residents in hurricane-prone areas should still be on their guard during the season, which stretches from June 1 to November 30.

This year, the region could see between eight and 13 originating in the Atlantic Ocean, of which three to six could rise to hurricane strength.

And only one or two of the hurricanes will likely reach category-three wind speeds, NOAA chief Kathryn Sullivan said at a press conference.

She said several factors contributed to the relatively moderate forecast, including the expected arrival in late summer of El Nino, when a huge mass of warm water builds in the western Pacific and eventually shifts to the eastern side of the ocean.

Sullivan said "near average" water surface temperatures in the Atlantic—in contrast to recent years with warmer than usual temperatures—would also contribute to the quiet season.

The last time El Nino made an appearance was in 2009-2010.

Nevertheless, Sullivan urged Americans to stay vigilant.

"We are starting , any section of our coast line can be hit by a tropical storm," she said. "It takes only one land-falling storm to cause a disaster."

And NOAA predictions aren't set in stone.

Last year, NOAA forecast a more active than usual hurricane season, with up to 30 tropical storms and three to six hurricanes.

But in the end, the Atlantic storm season was the calmest on record since 1982, with just 13 storms, only two of which rose to become category one hurricanes.

NOAA chief forecaster Gerry Bell also emphasized that in the Atlantic—where 12 of the past 20 seasons have exceeded averages—a climatic cycle set off in 1995 has been marked by stronger and more numerous storms.

The average for the Atlantic season is 12 storms, including six moderate hurricanes (categories one and two) and three major hurricanes (categories three or higher).

Storms ranked category three or higher on the Saffir-Simpson scale are characterized by winds at least 111 miles (179 kilometers) per hour.

At category five, the highest level on the five-point scale, winds exceed 155 miles per hour.

Explore further: Weaker than expected Atlantic hurricane season ends

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Weaker than expected Atlantic hurricane season ends

Dec 01, 2013

The 2013 Atlantic hurricane season officially ended on Saturday as the quietest since 1982 and the sixth least active since 1950, the US National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration said.

NOAA trims forecast for busy hurricane season

Aug 08, 2013

This Atlantic hurricane season may not be quite as busy as U.S. forecasters once thought, but they still warn of an unusually active and potentially dangerous few months to come.

Hurricane season ends with no Atlantic basin storms

Nov 26, 2013

(Phys.org) —The 2013 Atlantic hurricane season, which officially ends on Saturday, Nov. 30, had the fewest number of hurricanes since 1982, thanks in large part to persistent, unfavorable atmospheric conditions ...

Recommended for you

Icelandic volcano sits on massive magma hot spot

Oct 24, 2014

Spectacular eruptions at Bárðarbunga volcano in central Iceland have been spewing lava continuously since Aug. 31. Massive amounts of erupting lava are connected to the destruction of supercontinents and ...

NASA sees Tropical Storm Ana still vigorous

Oct 24, 2014

NASA's TRMM satellite saw that Tropical Storm Ana was still generating moderate rainfall is it pulled away from Hawaii. The next day, NASA's Aqua satellite saw that wind shear was having an effect on the ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Doug_Huffman
not rated yet May 23, 2014
"Average" is a pretty safe prediction of anything, particularly without a specified standard deviation.