Crown Weather Services from Florida predicts that, for the US, the 2016 Atlantic Hurricane Season is likely to be much more active than the 2015 hurricane season, . In fact, this season could be the most active hurricane season since 2012. In addition, it appears that we will see longer lasting tropical storm activity this year as well as more hurricane activity this season as compared to the last few years, Crown Weather points out.
“With that said, the forecast for the 2016 Atlantic Hurricane season continues to be a very difficult one due to many factors that may be in favor for a very active season but other ones may cause it to be quite inactive.
The Numbers: 11 more named storms (we have already seen the development of Alex back in January), 8 of those storms becoming hurricanes and 3 of those hurricanes becoming major hurricanes (Category 3 or higher on the Saffir-Simpson scale).
Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) Index Forecast: Crown forecasts an ACE index this year of 110. This number basically says that they expect that overall activity in the Atlantic may be 10 percent above the long term average. Compare this to the 2015 Hurricane Season which had a ACE index of 58.
ENSO Conditions: It continues to look very likely still looks very likely that we will transition into neutral conditions as we head into summer and then into La Nina conditions by late this summer or early this autumn. All of the ENSO model guidance continues to support this forecast and it is now inevitable that we will have La Nina conditions by Autumn, if not before then.
Sea Surface Temperatures: Even though the sea surface temperatures across the eastern and northeastern Atlantic have warmed up considerably since early April, they are still below average across the Azores Islands and along the coast of Portugal. Further west, the ocean water temperatures across the western Atlantic are above average and this could potentially mean we could see tropical systems form close to the US coastline and the Bahamas.
The reason why Crown picked 6 of these years are that all had a El Nino which switched into La Nina conditions, however, other environmental conditions prevented an active hurricane season across the Atlantic. In particular, 1973, 1983 and 1992 were inactive due to the fact that we were in the inactive 20 to 30 year cycle of the Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation (1970-1995). On the other hand, 1959 and 1966 were in the active cycle of the Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation (1940-1969) and we were switching into a La Nina state. One item that all these analog years had was landfalling tropical storms or hurricanes on the US Gulf Coast. The reason why we picked the more active seasons of 1959 and 1966 is because we believe that we have not flipped into the inactive cycle of the Atlantic Multi-Decadal Oscillation and it appears to us that we are still within the active cycle of the Oscillation.
“We have added 1985 as an analog year to this update because of the strong emergence of La Nina conditions and the fact that most of the tropical storms and hurricanes waited to develop until they were past 50 West Longitude. Both of these factors are expected for this year’s hurricane season.
Risk Areas: The European model guidance’s tropical activity forecast is forecasting enhanced tropical cyclone activity near the US East Coast, across the western Gulf Coast and across the Yucatan Peninsula. In addition, the European model guidance is also forecasting below average activity across the central and eastern Atlantic.
Another model, the NMME model, is forecasting that the highest risk areas could be the northwestern Caribbean, much of the Gulf of Mexico and along the US East Coast. In addition, the NMME model is forecasting that the eastern Caribbean and the Lesser Antilles could be active in terms of tropical cyclone activity.
Crowns thoughts on risk areas are that they continue to strongly believe that the Gulf of Mexico and particularly the northern and western Gulf Coast has an increased threat for a hurricane impact during the 2016 Hurricane Season. This is supported by the analog years that they have identified as all have had at least one tropical storm or hurricane impact on the Gulf Coast.
Elsewhere, it looks as if the Caribbean and the Atlantic between the Lesser Antilles and the coast of Africa could be inactive due to colder than average ocean water temperatures and potentially unfavorable conditions across the eastern Atlantic.
Finally, the entire US East Coast could also be an active area in terms of tropical cyclone activity with at least 1 tropical storm or hurricane threat/impact this season with no one area at higher risk than another.
All-in-all, Crown thinks that we will see most, if not all of the tropical systems this year form in the area north of 20 North Latitude and west of 60 West Longitude with the area of main concern the Gulf of Mexico and particularly the northern and western US Gulf Coast.
2016 Atlantic Tropical Cyclone Names:
Alex (formed back in January 2016)