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NOAA Updates 2012 Hurricane Season Outlook

08/09/2012

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season has been “busy,” with six named storms since the season began June 1. In May 2012, NOAA forecasters originally indicated a 50 percent chance for a near-normal season in 2012, and predicted the chances for an above-normal season at 25 percent and a below-normal season at 25 percent. But on August 9, NOAA revised the chances for an above-normal season -- upping the odds to 35 percent -- while saying that the chances for a below-normal season have decreased to 15 percent.

Across the entire Atlantic Basin for the season -- June 1 to November 30 -- NOAA’s updated seasonal outlook projects a total (including the 2012 tropical storms Alberto, Beryl, Debbie, Florence and the 2012 hurricanes Chris and Ernesto) of:

  • 12 to 17 named storms (top winds of 39 miles per hour or higher), including:
  • 5 to 8 hurricanes (top winds of 74 miles per hour or higher) of which:
  • 2 to 3 could be major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5 with winds of at least 111 miles per hour)

The numbers are higher from the initial outlook in May, which called for 9-15 named storms, 4-8 hurricanes and 1-3 major hurricanes. Based on a 30 year average, a normal Atlantic hurricane season produces 12 named storms, six hurricanes, and three major hurricanes.

“We are increasing the likelihood of an above-normal season because storm-conducive wind patterns and warmer-than-normal sea surface temperatures are now in place in the Atlantic,” said NOAA Climate Prediction Center Lead Seasonal Hurricane Forecaster Dr Gerry Bell. “These conditions are linked to the ongoing high activity era for Atlantic hurricanes that began in 1995. Also, strong early-season activity is generally indicative of a more active season.” But NOAA seasonal climate forecasters also announced on August 9 that El Niño will likely develop in August or September. “El Niño is a competing factor, because it strengthens the vertical wind shear over the Atlantic, which suppresses storm development,” Bell explained. “But we don’t expect El Niño’s influence until later in the season.”

Saying that there is still “a long way to go until the end of the season,” National Weather Service Acting Director Laura Furgione advised that “we shouldn’t let our guard down. Hurricanes often bring dangerous inland flooding, as we saw a year ago in the Northeast with Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee. Even people who live hundreds of miles from the coast need to remain vigilant through the remainder of the season.”  -- Thanks to NOAA for the information



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