Following a tempestuous 2012, another torrent of hurricanes and superstorms is forecast to crash into the Atlantic coastline this year.
The prediction is based on warmer-than-average temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean and a low probability of El Niño in the Pacific Ocean.
Top forecasters predict an above-average 2013 Atlantic hurricane season, with 18 tropical storms forecast, of which nine will be hurricanes.
This comes on the heels of a less-than-stellar forecast in 2012, when nearly twice as many storms formed as had been predicted.
A typical year, based on weather records that go back to 1950, has 12 tropical storms, of which seven are hurricanes. A tropical storm has sustained winds of 39 mph; it becomes a hurricane when its winds reach 74 mph.
Warm Atlantic waters, such as those measured in recent months, tend to stir up stronger storms. That’s one of the reasons that major hurricanes are tipped to become more frequent as the climate changes. El Niño seasons of warm water in the Pacific, meanwhile, tend to dampen storms all the way over in the Atlantic. An expected El Niño failed to materialize in 2012; that’s why researchers’ hurricane forecasts for last year were low. They say El Niño is not expected this year.
The hurricane season forecast [PDF] was released Wednesday by Colorado State University meteorologists Philip Klotzbach and William Gray. It was similar to the Weather Channel’s forecast. Again from USA Today:
Earlier this week, the Weather Channel made its seasonal hurricane prediction: 16 named storms, of which nine will be hurricanes, of which five will be major hurricanes. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will be issuing its hurricane forecast in May.
With the Atlantic expected to churn up so many storms this season, it’s highly likely that at least one of them will make landfall in the U.S. From the New Orleans Times-Picayune:
[Klotzbach and Gray] say there is a 96 percent chance of a hurricane hitting somewhere along the U.S. coast, compared to a long-term average of 84 percent, and an 80 percent chance of a hurricane hitting somewhere along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, compared to the long-term average of 60 percent.
So be ready to batten down the hatches, East Coast. Another wild summer may soon be upon us.