The main ingredient for storm formation is hot water, at 80° or above. If this, along with other factors come together, then we can get a named system.
This year we've already had Tropical storm "Arlene", which spawned between April 19th through the 21st over the open waters of the Central Atlantic.
It was only a nuisance for the shipping lanes but it did however, make it into the history books as the second April Tropical Storm since the satellite era began in the 60s.
Last year got off to an extremely early start as well, with Hurricane Alex, forming in the Atlantic on January 7th.
It was the first Atlantic hurricane in January since Hurricane Alice in 1955. It was also the first to form in January since 1938.
On Thursday May 25th, NOAA will release its seasonal outlook for this year. This is only one of many published by universities and private weather firms alike. So far the early consensus is that we may end up with an average season. Typical numbers are 12 named systems, out of which 6 may become hurricanes, and out of that number maybe two could reach major hurricane status. (Category 3 or above / over 111 mph)
This is a list of the names we will "hopefully" not see this year.
Will El Niño play a factor in this year's forecast?
El Niño is a warming of the Equatorial waters of the Eastern Pacific. This "warming" not only impacts marine currents but atmospheric ones as well. This upper level wind shake-up, tends to disrupt storm formation in the Atlantic.
El Niño's scientific name is ENSO, which stands for El Niño Southern Oscillation.
Most of the models focusing on the ENSO forecast, suggest Pacific Temps will remain average for the short term.
There is a 50% chance the waters could start warming above average between August and December but by then it may be too late for it to have any impact on our tropical season. We'll be monitoring .
What's new to help us?
Storm Surge Advisories
Our coastline is extremely vulnerable to storm surge from a system. This is basically a wall of water that slams along the coast. It can be devastating. NOAA will officially start issuing Storm Surge advisories offering advance warning of 36 to 48 hours to the areas that could get submerged. This will help you to know when to evacuate. If you live in a trailer or low area that typically gets flooded, plan now so you know where to go if you are ordered out. Don;t wait to the last minute.
Warnings even before a system forms:
Sometimes conditions are such that the weather is beautiful, but models show a storm developing and impacting the coast within a day or two. It used to be the National Hurricane Center waited for a storm to form in order to issue watches and warnings. Now they don't have to wait. NHC will be able to issue warnings even if a storm has yet to form.
Not one forecast model will ever let you know where and when a storm will make land fall. You should prepare as if you will get hit by a hurricane and plan accordingly. Unlike other phenomena, a hurricane will never take you by surprise.
If an earthquake were to happen, I could not give you any warning. I might be able to alert you within a few minutes of a tornado impacting your area, but with a hurricane, you will grow tired of seeing me on TV (sometimes a week out and ad nauseam) alerting you of its possible strength and path.
So please prepare as if we will get hit and you will be ready for anything Mother Nature throws our way.
Here's to a safe Hurricane Season.