Today, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released its updated Atlantic hurricane season outlook. NOAA scientists are predicting an 85% chance of an above-normal season, with the likelihood of 13 to 16 named storms, with seven to nine becoming hurricanes, of which three to five could become major hurricanes. These numbers bracket the Phil Klotzbach/Bill Gray forecast issued last week calling for 15 named storms, 8 hurricanes and 4 major hurricanes.
Although the upper-bound for the number of named storms and hurricanes has dropped slightly from the NOAA outlook issued in May, today’s update actually calls for an even higher probability (85%) of an above-normal season than was predicted in May (75%).
According to the NOAA scientists, the prediction for an above-normal 2007 hurricane season reflects the combination of two main climate factors: 1) the continuation of conditions that have been conducive to above-normal Atlantic hurricane seasons since 1995, and 2) the continued La Nina-like pattern in the eastern half of the equatorial Pacific. The 2006 Atlantic hurricane season activity was suppressed due to the unexpected development of El Nino conditions during the peak of the season.
The important thing for residents of South Florida to remember, however, is that it is not just about the numbers. What really counts is where the hurricanes hit and how strong they are at landfall. It just takes that one hurricane over your community to make for a bad year. If you are lucky enough to live in beautiful South Florida, you need to have a hurricane plan and have that plan in place ready to be executed before the next hurricane threat – no matter what the numbers are from the seasonal hurricane forecasters.