Forecasters warn of ‘extremely active’ hurricane season

Colorado State University (CSU) researchers warned of an “extremely active” Atlantic hurricane season, in a forecast released Thursday.

CSU’s Tropical Weather & Climate research forecasted that there will be 23 named storms in the Atlantic basin, which includes the entire Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico. According to a webpage on tropical cyclone climatology by the National Hurricane Center and Central Pacific Hurricane Center, the average number of named storms for an Atlantic hurricane season is 14.

“Current El Niño conditions are likely to transition to La Niña conditions this summer/fall, leading to hurricane-favorable wind shear conditions,” the CSU forecast reads. “Sea surface temperatures in the eastern and central Atlantic are currently at record warm levels and are anticipated to remain well above average for the upcoming hurricane season.”

In the forecast, the group said it also “anticipate a well above-average probability for major hurricanes making landfall along the continental United States coastline and in the Caribbean.”

“As with all hurricane seasons, coastal residents are reminded that it only takes one hurricane making landfall to make it an active season,” the forecast reads. “Thorough preparations should be made every season, regardless of predicted activity.”

Forecasters have recently been keeping an eye on La Niña, a climate phenomenon originating from the equatorial Pacific in which trade winds are more intense than normal, which pushes warm water in the direction of Asia and the jet stream north. The National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center said in March that there is a 62 percent chance of La Niña developing in June through August.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) also said in March in an update that La Niña “can also be a supporting character in the Atlantic hurricane season.”

“In a nutshell, La Niña tends to reduce wind shear — the change in wind between the surface and high up the atmosphere,” the update reads. “Less wind shear can make it easier for hurricanes to strengthen. NOAA’s hurricane outlook comes out in May, so we’ll know more then about how La Niña, ocean temperatures, and other factors are likely to affect hurricane activity this season.”

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