Key hurricane forecast increases number of storms expected

Kimberly Miller, The Palm Beach Post on

Published in Weather News

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- A prominent hurricane forecast has upped its storm count slightly for the 2019 storm season as questions about the staying power of El Nino swirl.

The updated forecast from Colorado State University is calling for a near average season with 14 named storms, including six hurricanes and two major hurricanes of Category 3 or higher. The 14 storms include Subtropical Storm Andrea, which formed in late May prior to the official June 1 start date of hurricane season.

An April forecast from CSU called for a slightly below average season.

"We currently anticipate that current weak El Nino event conditions will persist, but some anomalous cooling in recent weeks weakens our confidence in this assessment," the updated forecast notes.

A normal season, which runs between June 1 and Nov. 30, has 12 named storms, including six hurricanes and three major hurricanes.

The federal Climate Prediction Center, which released its seasonal hurricane forecast May 23, also expects a near normal season with between nine and 15 named storms to form, including four to eight hurricanes and two to four major hurricanes of Category 3 strength or higher.

Gerry Bell, lead hurricane forecaster for the center, which is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said there are competing elements in the atmosphere that complicate the prediction.

A weak El Nino will work to reduce tropical cyclone activity but warmer sea surface temperatures and a strong African monsoon season could increase activity.

"There is some uncertainty based on model prediction as to how strong each of those will be," Bell said last month.

CSU will issue updated forecasts July 9 and Aug. 5.

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