NOAA Update: Atlantic Hurricane Season - Above-Normal Season Still Expected
WASHINGTON - NOAA is predicting an above average hurricane season for 2007. The 2007 Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook, by NOAA's Climate Prediction Center was released this week.
For the peak months (August through October) of the Atlantic hurricane season, NOAA scientists are predicting an 85 percent chance of an above-normal season, with the likelihood of 13 to 16 named storms, with seven to nine becoming hurricanes. Three to five could become major hurricanes (Category 3 strength or higher on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale).
The development of key climate factors through early August has increased the confidence of an above-normal season, and has also led the NOAA team to slightly tighten the ranges that had been given in their May outlook -- due to development of La Nina-like conditions exerting influence. In May, NOAA predicted a range of 13-17 named storms, with seven to 10 becoming hurricanes, and three to five becoming major hurricanes.
The climate patterns responsible for the expected above-normal 2007 hurricane season continue to be the ongoing multi-decadal signal (the set of oceanic and atmospheric conditions that have spawned increased Atlantic hurricane activity since 1995), warmer-than-normal sea surface temperatures in key areas of the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, and the El Nino/La Nina cycle, according to Gerry Bell, Ph.D., lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA's Climate Prediction Center based in Camp Springs, Md.
"Most of the atmospheric and oceanic conditions have developed as expected, and are consistent with those predicted in May," said Bell. "The biggest wild card in the May outlook was whether or not La Nina would form, and if so, how strong it would be.
"Today's El Nino/La Nina forecast from the Climate Prediction Center indicates a slightly greater than 50 percent probability that La Nina will form during the peak of the hurricane season. But more importantly, we are already observing wind patterns similar to those created by La Nina across the tropical Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea that encourage tropical cyclone development. The conditions are ripe for an above-normal season."
NOAA's seasonal outlooks do not specify where and when tropical storms and hurricanes could strike. Nevertheless, during above-normal seasons many of the storms form over the tropical Atlantic Ocean. These systems generally track westward, towards the United States and the Caribbean Sea, thereby posing an increased threat to these regions.
So far this season, there have been three Atlantic named storms (Andrea, Barry and Chantal), which is slightly above average. On average, one to two storms develop in June and July. The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30.
The 2007 Atlantic Hurricane Season outlook is a joint product of the scientists at NOAA's Climate Prediction Center, National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Research Division, and Hydrometeorological Prediction Center. NOAA meteorologists use a suite of sophisticated computer forecast models and high- tech tools to forecast tropical storms and hurricanes. Scientists rely on information gathered by NOAA and U.S. Air Force Reserve personnel who fly directly into storms in hurricane hunter aircraft; NOAA, NASA and Department of Defense satellites; a network of Doppler radars and buoys and partners among the international meteorological services.
NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and information service delivery for transportation, and by providing environmental stewardship of our nation's coastal and marine resources. Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), NOAA is working with its federal partners, more than 70 countries and the European Commission to develop a global monitoring network that is as integrated as the planet it observes, predicts and protects.
On the Web:
-- Updated 2007 Atlantic Hurricane outlook (technical product):
-- Climate Prediction Center's ENSO Diagnostic Discussion/Forecast:
-- NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards: http://www.weather.gov/nwr
Source: National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration