73.1 F
Charlotte Amalie
Sunday, February 5, 2023
HomeNewsArchivesBelow Average Hurricane Season Predicted

Below Average Hurricane Season Predicted

There’s still a bit under two months to go until the official June 1 start of hurricane season, but the Colorado State University forecast team came out Wednesday with its first hurricane prediction of the year.

William Gray and Phil Klotzbach predict a below average 2012 Atlantic basin hurricane season due to a cooling of the tropical Atlantic and the potential development of El Niño conditions.

The team calls for 10 named storms during the hurricane season, which falls between June 1 and Nov. 30. Four of those are expected to become hurricanes and two of those major hurricanes with sustained winds of 111 mph or greater. That makes them Category 3, 4 or 5.

Despite the prediction for a less active season based on data analysis of about 30 years, the scientists warned that it only takes one hurricane to make it an active season.

“We have witnessed cooling of the tropical Atlantic during this past winter, and there is a fairly high likelihood that an El Niño event will develop this summer. Typically, El Niño is associated with stronger vertical shear across the tropical Atlantic, creating conditions less conducive for storm formation,” Klotzbach said.

That doesn’t mean you can let down your guard.

“Still all vulnerable coastal residents should make the same hurricane preparations every year, regardless of how active or inactive the seasonal forecast,” Klotzbach said.

V.I. Territorial Emergency Management Agency spokesman Christine Lett said now is the time to make lists about what you’ll need in the way of emergency supplies should a hurricane be forecast to hit or come near the territory.

“The list should also include emergency contacts,” Lett said.

VITEMA also encourages families to develop a plan that includes information about where they’ll meet if they’re separated in a storm and how they’ll care for their pets as well as other useful information.

According to Lett, VITEMA has been busy getting ready for the upcoming season. It included making sure each Emergency Operations Center has a manager. She said Joseph Hodge is the center manager on St. Thomas. Denise Lewis has that job on St. Croix and Linda Williams is on St. John.

The hurricane forecast team made this early April forecast based on a new forecast scheme that relies on 29 years of historical data. The forecasts are based on the premise that global oceanic and atmospheric conditions such as El Nino, Atlantic basin sea surface temperatures and sea level pressures that preceded active or inactive hurricane seasons in the past provide meaningful information about similar conditions that will likely occur in the current year.

The team’s annual predictions are intended to provide a best estimate of activity to be experienced during the upcoming season, not an exact measure.

There were four years since 1949 that exhibited February-through-March characteristics most similar to the oceanic and atmospheric features observed during February through March 2012. Those years were 1957, 1965, 2001 and 2009. Three of these four years had below-average Atlantic basin hurricane activity.

“Despite this below-average forecast, we remain – since 1995 – in a favorable multi-decadal period for enhanced Atlantic Basin hurricane activity, which is expected to continue for the next 10 to 15 years or so,” Gray said.

The team predicts that tropical cyclone activity in 2012 will be about 75 percent of the average season. By comparison, 2011 witnessed tropical cyclone activity that was 145 percent of the average season.

The team predicts a 34 percent chance of a major hurricane tracking into the Caribbean. The long-term average is 42 percent.

The team will issue forecast updates on June 1 and Aug. 3.

For more on hurricane season preparation, go to www.ready.gov.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Keeping our community informed is our top priority.
If you have a news tip to share, please call or text us at 340-228-8784.

Support local + independent journalism in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Unlike many news organizations, we haven't put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as accessible as we can. Our independent journalism costs time, money and hard work to keep you informed, but we do it because we believe that it matters. We know that informed communities are empowered ones. If you appreciate our reporting and want to help make our future more secure, please consider donating.