Quantcast

Early Forecasts Suggest ‘Quiet’ 2019 Hurricane Season

Popular
Hurricane Florence, one of two hurricanes that devastated the U.S. during the 2018 season, lingers over the Carolinas. NOAA / GOES East satellite

Fallen trees from 2018's Hurricane Michael are still a hazard in the Florida Panhandle, but that won't stop the 2019 hurricane season from starting June 1.


As a sign of its approach, scientists have released their first forecasts for the 2019 season, which runs from the beginning of June to Nov. 30. Their predictions do offer some hope for beleaguered residents of the Caribbean, Gulf Coast and Eastern seaboard: The season is expected to be "slightly below average," the Colorado State University (CSU) Tropical Meteorology Project announced Thursday.

The CSU team is predicting 13 named storms, five of which will become hurricanes and two of which be category three to five storms with wind speeds of 111 miles per hour or greater.

2018's hurricane season had 15 named storms, eight hurricanes and two storms category three or higher. Hurricane activity that season was 120 percent of an average season, while this year it is predicted to be 75 percent of average. An average season has 12 storms and six hurricanes.

"From the looks of it, it will be a quiet season," CSU researcher Jhordanne Jones told CNBC.

Last year, CSU's predictions were relatively accurate. The team predicted 14 named storms and seven hurricanes, one less than the final tally in each category, USA Today reported. An average season has 12 storms and six hurricanes.

AccuWeather also released predictions Thursday which roughly agree with CSU's. It predicted 12 to 14 named storms, five to seven hurricanes and two to four high-powered hurricanes.

"This year, we think that there will be a few less tropical storms and lower numbers in hurricanes, but again, the old saying is 'it only takes one'," AccuWeather Atlantic Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski said.

In 2018, it only took two. Hurricane Michael and Hurricane Florence together took 100 U.S. lives and caused almost $50 billion dollars worth of damage, according to USA Today. Hurricane Florence, which caused historic flooding in the Carolinas, was calculated to be 50 percent wetter due to climate change. Micheal intensified rapidly because of above-average water temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico to become the fourth strongest storm to ever make landfall in the U.S. Its intensification was consistent with predictions for the impact of global warming on tropical storms.

In 2019, lower ocean temperatures are one of the reasons CSU is predicting a slightly calmer season. The tropical Atlantic is cooler than average, which both reduces the chances hurricanes will intensify like Michael did and signals a more stable, drier atmosphere less likely to form thunderheads.

The second reason is that a weak El Niño has formed in the Pacific, and El Niño conditions are expected to persist through the season. The westerly winds encouraged by El Niño conditions in the Caribbean into the tropical Atlantic disperse hurricanes as they form.

AccuWeather also predicted the current El Niño would last through the peak of hurricane season.

"If this current El Niño continues or strengthens, then the number of tropical storms and hurricanes will be near or below normal," Kottlowski said. "If the El Niño weakens and goes neutral, the number of tropical storms and hurricanes could actually be higher than normal."

CSU also predicted the chance that a hurricane would make landfall in a particular area. The probabilities were:

48 percent for the entire U.S. coastline (average for the last century is 52 percent)

28 percent for the U.S. East Coast including the Florida peninsula (average for the last century is 31 percent)

28 percent for the Gulf Coast from the Florida panhandle westward to Brownsville (average for the last century is 30 percent)

39 percent for the Caribbean (average for the last century is 42 percent)

CSU will release additional forecasts June 4, July 2 and Aug. 6. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will release a forecast of its own in mid May.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Waterloo Bridge during the Extinction Rebellion protest in London. Martin Hearn / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Money talks. And today it had something to say about the impending global climate crisis.

Read More Show Less
Sam Cooper

By Sam Cooper

Thomas Edison once said, "I'd put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power!"

Read More Show Less
Sponsored

Zero Waste Kitchen Essentials

Simple swaps that cut down on kitchen trash.

Sponsored

By Kayla Robbins

Along with the bathroom, the kitchen is one of the most daunting areas to try and make zero waste.

Read More Show Less
A NOAA research vessel at a Taylor Energy production site in the Gulf of Mexico in September 2018. NOAA

The federal government is looking into the details from the longest running oil spill in U.S. history, and it's looking far worse than the oil rig owner let on, as The New York Times reported.

Read More Show Less
Golde Wallingford submitted this photo of "Pure Joy" to EcoWatch's first photo contest. Golde Wallingford

EcoWatch is pleased to announce our third photo contest!

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Damage at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge from the 2016 occupation. USFWS

By Tara Lohan

When armed militants with a grudge against the federal government seized the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in rural Oregon back in the winter of 2016, I remember avoiding the news coverage. Part of me wanted to know what was happening, but each report I read — as the occupation stretched from days to weeks and the destruction grew — made me so angry it was hard to keep reading.

Read More Show Less
Computer model projection of temperature anomalies across Europe on June 27. Temperature scale in °C. Tropicaltidbits.com

A searing heat wave has begun to spread across Europe, with Germany, France and Belgium experiencing extreme temperatures that are set to continue in the coming days.

Read More Show Less
Skull morphology of hybrid "narluga" whale. Nature / Mikkel Høegh Post

In the 1980s, a Greenlandic subsistence hunter shot and killed a whale with bizarre features unlike any he had ever seen before. He knew something was unique about it, so he left its abnormally large skull on top of his toolshed where it rested until a visiting professor happened upon it a few years later.

Read More Show Less