With the start of the Atlantic hurricane season merely days away, on Thursday, May 22, 2014, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released its 2014 Atlantic Hurricane Season Forecast, predicting a likely below-normal hurricane season.
Forecasters are predicting a slower than usual season this year because of an expected El Niņo system.
NOAA officials said that the periodic Pacific warming characteristics of El Niņo will likely reduce the number and intensity of tropical storms and hurricanes.
This year, NOAA officials expect about eight to 13 named tropical storms and three to six hurricanes. Just one or two major hurricanes with winds over 110 miles per hour are forecast, at a 70 percent likelihood rate.
The seasonal averages are 12 named storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes.
In a news conference at New York City’s emergency operations center in Brooklyn, N.Y., NOAA’s administrator, Kathryn Sullivan, warned that even if the season includes a below normal number of storms, coastal residents should recognize that hurricane landfalls often occur during less active years, with devastating results.
“It only takes one destructive storm to make a very bad season on the ground in our communities,” Sullivan said.
In line with AccuWeather.com’s predictions, NOAA expects the impacts of El Niņo, including increasing wind sheer across portions of the basin, as well as lower Atlantic Ocean temperatures, to hinder tropical development.
“If we have a robust El Niņo develop, then the numbers will be much lower, and this could be one of the least active years in recent memory,” AccuWeather.com Senior Meteorologist Kottlowski said.
Forecasters also expect beneficial trade wind and atmospheric stability conditions in the Atlantic basin that will make it difficult for storms to develop.
Despite predictions for a below-normal season, the entire East Coast should prepare for the worst as years with similar quiet patterns, such as 1992, can unleash violent, destructive storms.
In 1992, during what looked to be a tranquil season, Hurricane Andrew nearly wiped out South Florida and parts of Louisiana.
The official start to the Atlantic hurricane season is June 1, 2014.
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