After 2017’s devastating hurricane season, we were all hoping for a break for 2018. But that doesn’t look to be the case after Colorado State University (CSU) releases its predictions for the season beginning June 1. The 2018 hurricane season predictions, which came out on April 5, show a slightly above-average Atlantic hurricane season this year due to a “relatively low likelihood of a significant El Niño as a primary factor.”
The CSU Tropical Meteorology Project team is predicting 14 named storms (the average is 12), with seven (six is the average) forecast to become hurricanes, and three major hurricanes (Category 3, 4, or 5) with sustained winds of 111 miles per hour or greater. CSU predicts this season’s hurricane activity to be about 135 percent of the average season — one thing to note is that 2017’s active season with devastating Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria was 245 percent of the average season.
Landfall probabilities include a 63 percent chance of landfall for the entire U.S. coastline; 39 percent for the U.S. East Coast, including the Florida peninsula; 38 percent for the Gulf Coast from the Florida panhandle westward to Brownsville, Texas; and 52 percent for the Caribbean.
The team noted that the 2018 season exhibits similar characteristics to 1960, 1967, 1996, 2006, and 2011. Phil Klotzbach, research scientist in the Department of Atmospheric Science and lead author of the report, noted that 1996 and 2011 were both above-normal hurricane seasons.
While there is a chance that a weak El Niño could develop by the season’s peak, CSU considers odds to be low. El Niño tends to suppress Atlantic hurricane development, while La Niña tends to increase the occurrence of Atlantic storms. “El Niño also to increase upper-level westerly winds across the Caribbean into the tropical Atlantic, tearing apart hurricanes as they try to form,” Klotzbach writes. In an interview with CNN, Klotzbach attributes the “near-record warm sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic," to the surge in hurricane activity in 2017. He further notes that the majority of the storms occur between mid-August and mid-October.
Stay tuned for updates throughout the season.