Quantcast

Scientists Now Expect Busier Hurricane Season as El Niño Ends

Climate
Homes damaged by Hurricane Michael sit along the beach on May 9 in Mexico Beach, Florida. Scott Olson / Getty Images

Scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center said this year's hurricane season is shaping up into a busy one, as the AP reported.


Initial predictions in May forecasted a mild hurricane season, but that was revised after the summer's weak El Niño faded. El Niño is an occasional warming of parts of the Pacific that affects weather worldwide and dampens storm activity.

In the wake of a weak El Niño system, the Atlantic season looks more active than normal as peak hurricane season approaches. Forecasters now predict up to 17 named storms, with five to nine hurricanes and two to four major ones, according to the AP. That's revised from the initial prediction of 12 named storms.

If there are 17 named storms, the 17th will be Rebekah.

The revised prediction, which NOAA released Thursday, stated that El Niño returned to normal, allowing hurricanes to start to form. The forecasters then raised the likelihood of an above-normal hurricane season in the Atlantic to 45 percent. It was just 30 percent in their May prediction. Meanwhile, the chance for a below-normal season dropped to just 20 percent, as the New York Times reported.

So far, there already have been two named storms; the most notable was Barry, which drenched the Gulf Coast in July.

The New York Times reports that the effect of the climate crisis is increasingly clear. Some of the global heating tamps down hurricane formation by increasing changes in wind direction. However, warmer oceans intensify the storms' force, once they do form, making them more powerful and more dangerous. On top of that, a warmer atmosphere and higher sea levels means storms can hold significantly more moisture, making wetter storms. Those heavy storms tend to stall and drop enormous amounts of water, as was the case this in Houston when Hurricane Harvey dropped 60 inches of rain.

However, the researchers at NOAA did not use the climate crisis as a major decider in their predictions. Instead, they looked at more traditional measures like the El Niño pattern and atmospheric conditions and decades of hurricane data, according to Gerry Bell, the lead scientific forecaster at NOAA, as the New York Times reported. However, Bell noted that the Atlantic is currently in a cycle of higher activity, he said, and those cycles "completely dominate the record."

In a rapidly changing world under the climate crisis, looking at historical trends may not be as informative as previously thought.

"We are entering a world where history is an unreliable guide for decision making, said Andrew Pershing who runs the Climate Change Ecology Lab at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, as Ecowatch reported.

It's impossible to say if any of the Atlantic storms will make landfall until about a week before it does.

The next storm names for the current season are Chantal, Dorian and Erin, according to the New York Times.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

This study found evidence of illegal hammerhead fins in 46 out of 46 sampling events in Hong Kong. NOAA / Teachers at Sea Program

By Jason Bittel

Authorities in Hong Kong intercepted some questionable cargo three years ago — a rather large shipment of shark fins that had originated in Panama. Shark fins are a hot commodity among some Asian communities for their use in soup, and most species are legally consumed in Hong Kong, but certain species are banned from international trade due to their extinction risk. And wouldn't you know it: this confiscated shipment contained nearly a ton of illegal hammerhead fins.

Read More Show Less
A video shows a woman rescuing a koala from Australia's wildfires. VOA News / YouTube screenshot

More than 350 koalas may have died in the wildfires raging near the Australian town of Port Macquarie in New South Wales, but one got a chance at survival after a woman risked her life to carry him to safety.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Heat waves emanate from the exhaust pipe of a city transit bus as it passes an American flag hung on the Los Angeles County Hall of Justice on April 25, 2013. David McNew / Getty Images

Air pollution rules aren't doing enough to protect Americans, finds a major new study that examined the cause of death for 4.5 million veterans, as The Guardian reported.

Read More Show Less
Coldplay playing at Stade de France in Paris in July 2017. Raph_PH / Wikipedia / CC BY 2.0

Coldplay is releasing a new album on Friday, but the release will not be followed by a world tour.

Read More Show Less
Ash dieback is seen infecting a European ash (Fraxinus excelsior) in Bottomcraig, Scotland, UK on Aug. 10, 2016. nz_willowherb / Flickr

Scientists have discovered a genetic basis to resistance against ash tree dieback, a devastating fungal infection that is predicted to kill over half of the ash trees in the region, and it could open up new possibilities to save the species.

Read More Show Less