With a disturbed area of weather over the Yucatan now given a 90% chance of developing into a tropical system over the weekend as it moves slowly north into the Gulf of Mexico, yesterday afternoon NOAA released their 2018 Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook.
And while not a specific forecast, it is not what storm weary residents of Puerto Rico, Texas, and Florida wanted to hear.Some excerpts from yesterday's press release, then I'll return with a bit more.
New satellite data and model upgrades to give forecasts a boost
May 24, 2018 NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center is forecasting a 75-percent chance that the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season will be near- or above-normal.
Forecasters predict a 35 percent chance of an above-normal season, a 40 percent chance of a near-normal season, and a 25 percent chance of a below-normal season for the upcoming hurricane season, which extends from June 1 to November 30.(Continue . . . )
“With the advances made in hardware and computing over the course of the last year, the ability of NOAA scientists to both predict the path of storms and warn Americans who may find themselves in harm’s way is unprecedented,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “The devastating hurricane season of 2017 demonstrated the necessity for prompt and accurate hurricane forecasts.”
NOAA’s forecasters predict a 70-percent likelihood of 10 to 16 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 5 to 9 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 1 to 4 major hurricanes (category 3, 4 or 5; with winds of 111 mph or higher). An average hurricane season produces 12 named storms, of which 6 become hurricanes, including 3 major hurricanes.
In addition to the Atlantic hurricane season outlook, NOAA also issued seasonal hurricane outlooks for the eastern and central Pacific basins. An 80 percent chance of a near- or above-normal season is predicted for both the eastern and central Pacific regions. The eastern Pacific outlook calls for a 70-percent probability of 14 to 20 named storms, of which 7 to 12 are expected to become hurricanes, including 3 to 7 major hurricanes. The central Pacific outlook calls for a 70-percent probability of 3 to 6 tropical cyclones, which includes tropical depressions, tropical storms and hurricanes.
NOAA will update the 2018 Atlantic seasonal outlook in early August, just prior to the peak of the season.
While these tropical outlooks don't always pan out, as a native Floridian, I take the threat seriously. Many hurricanes don't measure up to the hype, but the ones that do (think: Katrina, Andrew Camille, Donna . . . ), often exceed expectations.
And as they say, it only takes one hitting where you live or work, to have a major impact on your life.
Currently the National Hurricane Center is watching what could become the first tropical system of the season (see below), possibly impacting the Gulf coast later this weekend into the early part of next week.
While likely mostly a heavy rainmaker, it is possible this system could become a tropical storm or even a minimal hurricane. Residents along the Gulf coast should remain vigilant, and follow the NHC's and any local Emergency Management guidance.
When it comes to getting the latest information on hurricanes, your first stop should always be the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida. These are the real experts, and the only ones you should rely on to track and forecast the storm.
If you are on Twitter, you should also follow, @NHC_Atlantic, @NHC_Pacific, @FEMA and @ReadyGov
And if you haven't started your 2018 hurricane preparedness, I'd invite you to revisit Tuesday's blog and Hurricane Preparedness Week 2018 (May 6th - May 12th).