Although Tropical Storm Emily gave residents a few anxious moments as they fretted over its uncertain path, the Virgin Islands got off lightly. That said, it may have served as a tuneup for the rest of the season.
“Check your preparedness measures and have an emergency plan for your family,” meteorologist Brian Seeley at the National Weather Service in San Juan said Wednesday.
There’s nothing ahead for the rest of the week, Seeley said. There’s a wave out in the middle of the Atlantic that Seeley said “looks kind of wimpy.” There’s also a bigger one just leaving the African Coast that meteorologists will watch.
“We’re going to see these things leaving Africa every few days,” Seeley said.
With their early August prediction, hurricane forecasters Phil Klotzbach and William Gray of Colorado State University reminded those in the hurricane belt just how much of the season is left.
They stuck to their earlier seasonal hurricane forecasts, calling for 16 named storms in the Atlantic basin for the 2011 season. Of that 16, they think 11 will become hurricanes. Of that 11, five will develop into major hurricanes with winds of 111 mph or greater.
With Emily the fifth named storm of the season, 11 are still to come.
The longterm average for the years 1950 to 2000 stands at 9.6 named storms, with 5.9 of them growing into hurricanes. A total of 2.3 reached major category in the longterm average.
The hurricane forecast team predicts tropical cyclone activity in 2011 will be approximately 175 percent of the average season. By comparison, 2010 witnessed tropical cyclone activity that was about 196 percent of the average season.
The hurricane team’s forecasts are based on the premise that global oceanic and atmospheric conditions – such as El Nino, sea surface temperatures and sea level pressures – that preceded active or inactive hurricane seasons in the past provide meaningful information about similar trends in future seasons.
The combination of neutral El Nino and Southern Oscillation conditions in the tropical Pacific along with continued unusually warm sea surface temperature and unusually low sea-level pressure in the tropical Atlantic will likely lead to a very active hurricane season, Gray and Klotzbach said.
Klotzbach and Gray estimate the 2011 season will have roughly as much activity as was experienced in the years 1952, 1966, 2005, and 2008, which had similar conditions.
The probability of at least one major hurricane making landfall in the Caribbean is 59 percent. The average for the last 100 years stands at 49 percent.