Outlook for the 2012 Atlantic Hurricane Season
Greensboro, NC -- After an active 2011 Atlantic Hurricane Season with 19 named storms 2012 is expected to be a little more normal.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Thursday that a near-normal Atlantic Hurricane season can be expected with 9-15 named storms, 4-8 hurricanes of which 1-3 will become major hurricanes (111 mph or higher, ranking Category 3, 4 or 5). The average season, based on the period between 1981-2010, produces 12 named storms, 6 hurricanes, including 3 major hurricanes.
In April, the team of Tropical Research Scientists at Colorado State issued a similar forecast calling for a near-normal Atlantic Hurricane Season. Their forecast called for 10 named storms, 4 hurricanes with 2 major hurricanes.
The Atlantic Basin has been in a relatively active era that began in 1995 which leads meteorologists to expect for a continuation of this trend. This, combined with near-average sea-surface temperatures across much of the tropical Atlantic ocean and Caribbean Sea, favors the development of storms.
A competing climate factor that may hamper storm development is the anticipated return of El Niño by late summer into early fall. If El Niño returns, Gerry Bell, Ph.D., lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA's Climate Prediction Center says, "Conditions could be less conducive for hurricane formation and intensification during the peak months (August-October) of the season".
The Atlantic Hurricane Season officially runs from June 1 through November 3, but one Tropical Storm has already developed this year. Tropical Storm Alberto formed on May 19th and then dissipated out over the Atlantic Ocean on May 22nd. While the 2012 season has gotten off to a fast start this does not necessarily indicate what is to come.
Is is important to remember, however, that regardless of the predicted number of tropical systems it only takes one to cause devastation. Now is the time to prepare and make sure you have a plan. Even inland areas, such as the Triad, are vulnerable to the flooding rains caused by weakening tropical systems. In fact, more lives or lost due inland flooding than any other tropical hazard.
Make sure you stay updated on the latest weather forecasts and changing weather conditions. You can get the latest local weather forecast and track the tropics on the WFMY News 2 Weather page.
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