The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) today announced a probabilistic outlook for this year’s hurricane activity in the Atlantic basin. The outlook calls for “considerable activity” with a 60 to 70 percent chance of 12 to 16 named storms, including 6 to 9 hurricanes and 2 to 5 major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale).
These numbers bracket the similar forecast issued by Phil Klotzbach and Bill Gray on April 9 which called for 15 named storms, 8 hurricanes and 4 major hurricanes. An average season consists of 11 named storms, including six hurricanes and two major hurricanes. NOAA says the main factors influencing its outlook are the continuing mutli-decadal signal and the anticipated lingering effects of La Nina. One of the expected oceanic conditions is a continuation since 1995 of warmer-than-normal temperatures in the eastern tropical Atlantic.
So what does this mean for South Florida? Residents of South Florida will remember that most of the seasonal outlooks were less than stellar over the past three years. And we also know that it is not all about the numbers. It only takes that one hurricane over our community to make for a bad year.
NOAA made it very clear that today’s outlook does not predict whether, where or when any of these storms may hit land. If we are lucky enough to live in beautiful South Florida, we need to remember that history teaches us we are more vulnerable to hurricanes and major hurricanes than anywhere else in the mainland United States. It would be wise to get prepared no matter what the seasonal outlooks say.