An updated August Atlantic hurricane season outlook calls for a below normal Atlantic Hurricane season. This is due to the calming effects of El Nino. As El Nino continues to develop, it is likely that the hurricane season will end on a quiet note. However, despite the quiet start it is still possible for strong hurricane to develop so it is important for people to still be prepared.
NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center now predicts a 50% probability of a near normal season, a 40% probability of a below-normal season, and a 10% probability of an above normal season. Forecasters say there is a 70% chance of seven to 11 named storms, of which three to six could become hurricanes, including one to two major hurricanes.
The main change from the May outlook is an increased probability of a below-normal season. The May outlook called for nine to 14 named storms, of which four to seven could become hurricanes, including one to three major hurricanes.
In recent weeks it has become apparent that El Nino will strengthen. During an El Nino, there is more wind shear in the Caribbean and fewer hurricanes. The stronger upper level westerly winds help reduce hurricane activity by blowing off the tops of growing thunderstorm clouds that would normally lead to tropical storms. La Nina conditions are favorable for hurricanes because they lead to less wind shear in the tropical Atlantic.
Even though El Nino tends to decrease the number of storms, other climate factors could help to create storms, so we’re not out of the clear just yet. The outlook provides a general guide to the expected overall strength of the upcoming hurricane season. According to NOAA, the outlook is not a seasonal hurricane landfall forecast, and does not imply levels of activity for any particular region. So it is always important to be prepared as hurricane disasters can occur whether the season is active or relatively quiet.