Thursday, May 23, 2013

2013 NHC Forecast

And so it begins. With the release of NOAA's seasonal outlook, I officially ramp up the Tropical Blog for 2013.

This is what NOAA says we can expect for the 6-month season, which gets underway June 1.

  • Named Systems: 13 to 20
  • Hurricanes: 7 to 11 
  • Major Storms: 3 to 6 (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of 111 mph or more).

A typical year sees 12 , 6, and 3. 

Remember, no outlook or forecast can tell you where a system could make landfall, or how many for that matter. These numbers are here just to give you an idea of how active a season may be, but truly, there could be 40 out there and if none make landfall... big deal.  BUT, it just takes one to make landfall to cause major headaches for everyone.

South Florida has been spared a direct hit in recent years. The last time we had a significant strike was back in 2005 with hurricanes Katrina and Wilma.   

The accompanying graph illustrates the frequency in which South Florida sees a direct hurricane impact, and its between 6 and 7 years.  

It appears we may be due, so now is the time to get your plan ready in case mother nature throws one our way.


 So why this above average outlook?   NOAA cites three key features.

Hot ocean temps: 

The main ingredient for hurricane formation is hot water 80° or higher. Recent satellite images suggest many areas in the Atlantic are there already. This is just more fuel for storm formation.

 El Niño - La Niña:

These two features will from time to time influence our hurricane season, but NHC says this year neither will be a factor.

El Niño is a warming of the Equatorial waters of the Pacific Ocean that can disrupt atmospheric currents worldwide. While la Niña is a cooling of the Pacific waters.

Stuck in a rut:

This leaves the third feature which is the pattern we've been stuck in since 1995.  

For almost 20 years, plenty of moisture moving in from the Eastern Atlantic has been able to feed small disturbances with enough fuel to grow into storms.  This pattern remains firmly entrenched.

Some other important features for this year: 
  • Storm warnings will continue to be issued by NHC even though the system may have become extra tropical.
  • A new super computer will be added to NHC's arsenal over the next few months to help deliver more accurate forecasts.
  • Doppler radar will be placed in hurricane hunters to allow them to see in more detail the inner structure of a storm.

All these improvements will help us deliver better forecasts. 

Please allow me this shameless plug.  WSVN's hurricane preparedness special, "Surviving a Storm", will air Friday May 31st, at 8pm.

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