NOAA expecting busy hurricane season in the Atlantic

Today, the National Hurricane Center released its predication for the 2013 Atlantic Hurricane Season, which begins June 1st and runs through November 30th. NOAA’s outlook says there is a 70% likelihood that 13 to 20 named storms will develop (tropical systems with winds of 39 mph or higher). Of those, 7 to 11 could become hurricanes (sustained winds of 74 mph or higher), including 3 to 6 major hurricanes (Category 3, 4, or 5; winds of 111 mph or higher).

These numbers would make for an extremely active hurricane season. These ranges are well above the normal seasonal averages of 12 named storms, 6 hurricanes, and 3 major hurricanes.

There are three factors that can strongly control the Atlantic hurricane activity and make for a busy year. These factors look to come together in 2013 to do just that. Here are the three factors:

1) A continuation of the atmospheric climate pattern that has continued a period of high tropical activity in the Atlantic. The pattern began in 1995 and features a strong West African monsoon. This monsoon is responsible for pumping out the disturbances that eventually become tropical systems in the Atlantic.

2) Warmer-than-average water temperatures in the tropical Atlantic, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico.

3) El Nino is not expected to develop this year and suppress hurricane formation.

Lead hurricane forecaster at NOAA Gerry Bell, Ph.D. says he expects oceanic and atmospheric conditions this summer and fall to produce more and stronger hurricanes. He says these conditions include weaker wind shear, warmer Atlantic waters and conducive wind patterns coming from Africa.

This forecast does not forecast how many tropical systems will make landfall. We have had active years that have had many landfalls and others that have not.

Some good news for this season is a new supercomputer that will come online in July, which will run an upgraded forecast model that should improve intensity forecasts for hurricanes and tropical systems. Also this year, NOAA’s Hurricane Hunter aircraft (pictured below), will be transmitting Doppler radar data in real time. This will help forecasters better analyze evolving storm conditions and improve that upgraded forecast model by 10 to 15 percent.

The National Weather Service this year will also be able to keep hurricane warnings or issue hurricane warnings for post-tropical systems. Sandy, shown in the satellite image above, is the reason these changes have been made. This will allow forecasters to provide a continuous flow of information and forecasts to the people who need it.

So which names are on the batting order this year? Here they are…the names of the 2013 Atlantic Hurricane Season. Hopefully, folks along the coast are prepared for a busy year.

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