This year’s hurricane season already has produced three named storms, even though none have whipped themselves up to hurricane strength or made landfall. for the remainder of the season, which starts in June and ends in November, such experts as Bill Kirk, chief executive officer at WeatherTrends International, conservatively have projected as many as nine additional named storms to come out of the Atlantic. Weather events are named once a cyclone or “eye” forms.
According to WeatherTrends International, wet weather in Africa this year and above normal water temperatures in the tropical Atlantic and Caribbean will steer the greatest threats for a land-falling hurricane to the Caribbean, Mexico, South Texas and Alabama. A colder than normal central Atlantic should reduce the threat of land-falling hurricanes along the East Coast.
As of the end of July, however, with three named storms, the 2007 season is ahead of schedule, according to the National Hurricane Center—the third tropical storm of the year typically forms around Aug. 12.
Experts at the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration in May projected a 75 percent chance that the Atlantic hurricane season will be above normal this year—continuing an era of above-normal hurricane seasons that started in 1995. “For the 2007 Atlantic hurricane season, NOAA scientists predict 13 to 17 named storms, with seven to 10 becoming hurricanes, of which three to five could become major hurricanes of Category 3 strength or higher,” stated retired Navy Vice Adm. Conrad Lautenbacher, undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. An average Atlantic hurricane season brings 11 named storms, with six becoming hurricanes, including two major hurricanes.
Last year, hurricane predictions proved to be too high when an unexpected El Niño weather patten rapidly developed and created a hostile environment for Atlantic storms to form and strengthen. An El Niño is a weak, warm current appearing annually around Christmas along the coast of Ecuador and Peru.
In contrast to El Niño, La Niña refers to an anomaly of unusually cold sea surface temperatures found in the eastern tropical Pacific that help power tropical storms.
NOAA had been predicting a strong La Niña for this year, and thereby a busy hurricane season. But it has yet to happen, Kirk said.
The most active months of any typical season are August, September and October—90 percent of named storms develop between Aug. 15 and Oct. 15.