A Below-Average Hurricane Season Predicted...What That Means for - WSPA.com

A Below-Average Hurricane Season Predicted...What That Means for the Carolinas

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Hurricane season is back for its yearly visit...it began June 1 and runs to November 30.

The National Hurricane Center forecast calls for eight to thirteen named storms, three to six hurricanes, and one or two major hurricanes.  That’s below the average of 12 named storms, 6 hurricanes, and three major hurricanes.  Other research forecasts are similar.

The reason is the expected development of El Niño…a warming of ocean water in the eastern Pacific.  Rising air from this warmer water causes an extra push of upper-level wind over the tropical Atlantic.  This wind shear makes it difficult for storms to develop.

A question we don’t have the answer to yet…how strong will this El Niño be?  Some researchers expect a strong one…if it’s weaker than expected, we could end up with higher storm totals.

The last time we saw a strong El Niño was in 1997.  Only one storm developed in the deep tropics, and one in the Gulf of Mexico.  That was Hurricane Danny…which moved over the Upstate as a tropical depression.  Look at where the other storms formed…the western Atlantic…leading to some close calls but no landfalls. 

To get tropical weather here in the Carolinas, we need two things.  One: warm ocean water just offshore.  Secondly, we need no wind shear in the atmosphere over that ocean.

That combination, even during an El Niño, could make the area off the Carolina coast a developing ground for storms.

Remember…all it takes is one to hit land and it’s a dangerous hurricane season.

Click here for a look at the NOAA/National Hurricane Center's full release on the upcoming season.

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