BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, – Adding its voice to predictions of some pretty wild weather for the Caribbean and the United States in the forthcoming months, private weather firm AccuWeather has concurred with the forecasting teams who have already predicted an above-average Atlantic hurricane season this year.
In a forecast released earlier this week, AccuWeather expects that 16 named tropical storms will form, of which eight will become hurricanes.
Based on records that go back to 1950, an average season’s tally is 12 tropical storms, of which six are hurricanes, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
The above-normal number of storms predicted by forecasters to date is attributed to unusually warm water across the Atlantic and Caribbean, along with less frequent wind shear.
According to AccuWeather, three of the storms are predicted to make landfall in the United States, with Florida thought to be long overdue for a direct hurricane hit. While the state has been hit by named tropical storms in the past couple of years, AccuWeather meteorologist Dan Kottlowski says a direct hit by a hurricane has not occurred since Hurricane Wilma in 2005.
AccuWeather reports that concern is also high along the East Coast of the United States, due to the remaining devastation from the landfall of Superstorm Sandy in October 2012.
Last month, several forecasters predicted an above-average 2013 hurricane season, with Weatherbell’s well known forecaster Joe Bastardi saying that this could be a very dangerous hurricane year for the Caribbean and the southeast United States. He also forecast above-average activity up the East Coast and into the Gulf and further west.
Bastardi called for 16 named tropical storms, a very high 12 hurricanes, and 5 hurricanes reaching major status of Category 3 or higher.
The Weatherbell expert believes that 2013 will see hurricane activity shift back to the traditional paths we know from seasons such as 2004 and 2005, with hurricanes tracking a little further south than in 2012 – a pattern generally thought to raise Caribbean risk.
In their pre-season forecast issued last month, Colorado State University (CSU) weather gurus Phil Klotzbach and William Gray also predicted a turbulent, above-average storm season. The CSU tropical research experts predicted a high 18 named storms, including nine hurricanes, four of which would be major.
According to the two CSU climatologists, the tropical Atlantic is unusually warm and El Niño, the atmospheric force that inhibits storm formation, is unlikely to emerge this season, which runs through November 30.
Adding his comments on El Nino, Jeff Masters, chief meteorologist of online weather site Weather Underground, said years where neither El Niño nor its polar opposite, La Niña, emerge can be highly active.
“Remember the neutral El Niño year of 2005?” he said, referring to the season when 28 storms, including 15 hurricanes, formed.
Meanwhile, respected forecasters Tropical Storm Risk (TSR) are also expecting an above-average season this year.
In their pre-season forecast released in April, TSR predicted 15 named tropical storms, 8 of which will become hurricanes and 3 of which will attain Category 3 status or higher becoming major hurricanes.
Adding to the list of predictions released in April, Weather Services International published its early season Atlantic hurricane forecast for 16 named storms, 9 hurricanes and 5 major hurricanes.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is scheduled to release its predictions later this month.