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Hurricane Michael—the strongest recorded hurricane to hit Florida’s panhandle—happened last year during a season predicted to be below average.
Researchers at Colorado State University are predicting a “slightly below-average” Atlantic hurricane season, but people should still be prepared.
Hurricane season officially begins on June 1 and researchers at Colorado State University’s Tropical Meteorology Project say they’re expecting a “slightly below-average” Atlantic hurricane season this year.
According to their research, tropical Atlantic sea surface temperatures are currently below average and a weak El Niño has developed. Both of these factors will inhibit hurricane activity if they persist throughout the season.
In their first forecast of the year, the CSU team predicts that there will be 13 named storms, five hurricanes, and two “major” hurricanes (Category 3, 4, or 5) in 2019. An average Atlantic hurricane season has 12 named storms, six hurricanes, and three major hurricanes, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
NOAA hasn’t released its first forecast for the 2019 season yet, but the list of potential storm names are already available. CSU plans on issuing forecast updates on June 4, July 2, and August 6.
Keep in mind that these forecasts are always subject to change.
“The 2018 season fell within NOAA’s predicted ranges in our pre-season outlook issued in late May. However, the overall season was more active than predicted in the updated outlook issued in early August,” Gerry Bell, Ph.D., lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, said in a statement.
After forecasting a 25 percent chance of a below-normal hurricane season in May 2018, NOAA changed its predictions to a 60 percent chance of a below-normal season in August 2018 after ocean temperatures remained cooler than average in the summer.
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Although NOAA predicted between zero to two major hurricanes, four to seven hurricanes, and nine to 13 named storms, temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean eventually warmed up and 15 named storms, eight hurricanes, and two major hurricanes—including Florence and Michael—ended up happening before the season ended on November 30, 2018.
As we learned from Hurricane Florence’s flooding in North and South Carolina last September and Hurricane Michael’s devastation in the Florida panhandle in October, all it takes is one bad storm to put people’s lives in danger. It’s best to always be prepared before planning a trip to the Caribbean or southeastern United States in the summer or fall.
The Atlantic hurricane season officially runs from June 1 to November 30 and typically peaks from mid-August to late October. But for the past four years in a row, hurricane activity began earlier than the official June 1 start date. In 2018, Tropical Storm Alberto formed on May 25.
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