After a stressful winter and spring dealing with a pandemic, do we now have to worry about a busy summer in the tropics? It’s possible.
NOAA, or the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, put out its hurricane forecast on Thursday. The forecast calls for a 60% chance of an above-average season. In other words, expect an uptick in tropical weather this summer and fall. It is important to note, however, that while NOAA’s prediction calls for for an increase in seasonal activity, it is NOT a landfall forecast.
NOAA predicts 13 to 19 named storms, six to 10 hurricanes and three to six major hurricanes. An average season sees 12 named storms, six hurricanes, and three major hurricanes. Colorado State also releases a forecast and agrees with the likelihood of an above-average season.
Factors for the increase:
Part of what happens in the Atlantic Ocean depends on the Pacific Ocean. The El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO), which takes place in the Pacific, is forecast to be neutral or even trend towards La Nina. In La Nina years, shearing winds tend to be lighter over the Atlantic, helping storms to better organize. In addition, warmer-than-average sea-surface temperatures, weaker tropical Atlantic trade winds and an enhanced west African monsoon may contribute to higher numbers.
COVID-19 and Hurricane Season:
“Social distancing and other CDC guidance to keep you safe from COVID-19 may impact the disaster preparedness plan you had in place, including what is in your go-kit, evacuation routes, shelters and more. With tornado season at its peak, hurricane season around the corner, and flooding, earthquakes and wildfires a risk year-round, it is time to revise and adjust your emergency plan now,” said Carlos Castillo, acting deputy administrator for resilience at FEMA. “Natural disasters won’t wait, so I encourage you to keep COVID-19 in mind when revising or making your plan for you and your loved ones, and don’t forget your pets. An easy way to start is to download the FEMA app today.”
What does it mean for San Antonio:
While the hurricane season is forecast to be above-average, that does not necessarily correlate to the amount of systems making landfall. However, according to Colorado State, there is a 44% chance this season for the Gulf Coast, from the Florida panhandle westward to Brownsville, to see a major hurricane making landfall (average for the last century is 30%). Keep in mind this is a large area. So, chances of a landfall along the Texas Coastal Bend is relatively low, but those across south and southeast Texas should be prepared. As we learned with Hurricane Harvey, impacts can be felt well inland from where a tropical system strikes.