June 1st marks the beginning of the 2019 hurricane season, which will last until November 30th. Two early predictions for the upcoming season, released in April, are calling for a slightly less active hurricane season than normal. These predictions will be updated later this year as forecasts become more accurate.
Colorado State University
CSU’s Tropical Meteorology Project predicts a “slightly below-average Atlantic hurricane season” this year. The team is calling for an average number of named storms (13 total) due to slightly above-average surface water temperatures in the tropical Atlantic Ocean. There will be fewer hurricanes than average (5 versus 6.4) as well as fewer Category 3, 4 or 5 hurricanes than average (2 versus 2.7). The average number of hurricanes is measured from 1981 to 2010.
These lower-than-normal values are due to two conditions:
- El Nino conditions are likely to be weak to moderate throughout hurricane season, including the most active months of August, September and October. El Nino’s winds, which blow from west to east, break up hurricanes as they form in the Atlantic Ocean.
- Sea surface temperatures in the far North Atlantic are cooler than average.
These conditions are similar to those in 2002 and 2009, which had 12 and 9 named storms, respectively.
According to CSU, there is a 28% chance of landfall on the United States’ East Coast or Florida Panhandle. Within the Gulf Coast, there is a 28% chance of landfall. The Caribbean has a slightly higher chance of landfall at 39%.
Tropical Storm Risk
Tropical Storm Risk, Inc. predicts a hurricane season 20% less active than normal, based on historical data from 1950 to 2018. This prediction includes 12 named storms, 6 hurricanes and 3 major hurricanes. These lower-than-average numbers are predicted due to the possibility of a weak-to-moderate El Nino.