Itís Spring, and hurricane season is just around the corner. In any given calendar year, the tropical storm season runs from approximately June 1 through November 30. Although a cyclone can form at any time of year, these are historically the dates in which they occur off of the Atlantic Ocean in the Eastern United States and Caribbean.
So, what is our tropical storm risk for 2017?
The 2016 Season in Review
First, let's review what transpired last year. The 2016 Atlantic hurricane season featured slightly above average activity for the first time since 2012, which was notorious for the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy. September, which is normally a prime hurricane month, was relatively quiet, but October was very active. Hurricane Matthew brought strong winds, heavy rain, and flooding to Florida, as well as other areas on the East Coast. But it dissipated faster than some had expected. When all was said and done, 2016 ended as a slightly above-average year for hurricane activity in the Southern and Eastern United States.
Predictions for 2017: A Stronger-Than-Average Season
There are several organizations that spend time trying to predict hurricane activity for an upcoming season. Among them are the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Organization (NOAA) which has not released a prediction at time of this writing, The Tropical Meteorology Project at Colorado State University, and the Tropical Storm Risk consortium.
In a December preliminary discussion, The Tropical Meteorology Project predicted an approximately 60% chance of an above-normal hurricane season. North Atlantic sea surface temperatures have been generally warmer than usual, and these warmer temperatures often create an environment ripe for Atlantic storms. Additionally, an El Nino isn't expected, so upper level winds could be more prone to hurricane-inciting activity.
The Tropical Storm Risk consortium offered a similar assessment. The organization released an initial forecast that predicted 14 named storms, 6 hurricanes, and 3 major hurricanes. This means it expects a stronger-than-average season, as a typical season features 12 named storms, 3-5 hurricanes, and 1-2 major hurricanes.