A combination of an enhanced West African monsoon, warmer Atlantic Ocean temperatures, and the absence of El Nino are the primary factors behind the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, (NOAA’s) 2013 Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook.
The NOAA 2013 Atlantic Hurricane outlook is predicting 13-20 named storms, 7-11 hurricanes and 3-6 major hurricanes.
The NOAA is reporting that the probability of multiple hurricane strikes increases for both the United States and the entire region around the Caribbean Sea.
In explaining the science behind this year’s outlook, lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA's Climate Prediction Center, Gerry Bell through an online video presentation, disclosed that “There’s really a strong scientific basis for making the seasonal outlook,".
The video presentation was shown during a meeting called by the National Emergency Planning Organisation (NEPO) last week at which Prime Minister Hon. Roosevelt Skerrit, members of his cabinet, NEPO sub-committee members and emergency responders were present.
Bell noted that a substantial body of climate research has shown that a stronger West African Monsoon is one of the main factors contributing to this high-activity era.
“The Monsoon season in Western Africa has been stronger and wetter than it was between 1971 and 1994. The West African monsoon often gives rise to the thunderstorms that eventually become hurricanes. Those storms are more likely to strengthen and become tropical storms and hurricanes when the Atlantic Ocean waters are warmer” Bell said.
He noted that in the 18 years since the latest warm phase began, the Atlantic region has experienced 12 hurricane seasons with above-average activity.
“Water temperatures throughout the Atlantic Hurricane region have been warmer than average during the past 18 years. In contrast, Atlantic Ocean temperatures were cooler during the low activity era before 1995,” Bell explained.
For this upcoming hurricane season, Bell disclosed that NOAA’S most sophisticated climate model predicts the Atlantic to be warmer than average again this year.
He said “That model also predicts the Pacific to have cooler water, so El Nino is not expected to form. Typically, El Nino acts to reduce the Atlantic Hurricane activity”.
Weather officials say the outlook for this year is typical of the active hurricane seasons we’ve been seeing since 1995.
“The number of major hurricanes has more than doubled since 1995,” confirmed Bell.
The NOAA scientist also said that in this current high activity era, the number of hurricanes has increased by 60% compared to the 1971-1994 period.
The 2012 Atlantic hurricane season was marked by above average tropical cyclone activity with the formation of 19 tropical storms, of which ten became hurricanes.