Experts change hurricane season forecast
Some good news came down from top hurricane forecasters: The 2018 Atlantic hurricane season should be quieter than normal, according to a new prediction from Colorado State University — regarded as the nation’s top seasonal hurricane forecasters that essentially pioneered seasonal hurricane prediction. These experts now predict 10 named tropical storms will form, of which four will become hurricanes. That is a decrease from their forecast in April, when they said seven hurricanes would form.
“We have decreased our forecast and now believe that 2018 will have below-average activity,” the Colorado State forecast said. “The tropical and subtropical Atlantic is currently much colder than normal, and the odds of a weak El Niño developing in the next several months have increased.”
“With the decrease in our forecast, the probability for major hurricanes making landfall along the United States coastline and in the Caribbean has decreased as well,” Colorado State said. “The probability of a direct hit on the U.S. coast from a major hurricane — classified as a Category 3, 4 or 5 on the Saffir-Simpson scale — is down to 39 percent from 63 percent.”
But experts caution it only takes one storm to make it a disastrous season. And as is the case with all hurricane seasons, coastal residents are reminded that despite how many storms are predicted, it only takes one hurricane making landfall to make it an active season and cause human tragedy. They should prepare the same for every season, regardless of how much activity is predicted.
An example of this can be seen in the 1992 hurricane season. That season was relatively quiet overall, with only seven named storms. But the first of them was catastrophic Hurricane Andrew, which devastated portions of South Florida and killed dozens of people.
Complicating the situation further is research released by the National Science Foundation that predicted that hurricanes and tropical storms will get a little stronger, a little slower-moving and a lot wetter in the future. The rainfall rate of simulated future storms would increase by an average of 24 percent. The study, led by scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), compares high-resolution computer simulations of more than 20 historical, named Atlantic storms with a second set of simulations that are identical but for a warmer, wetter climate that’s consistent with the average scientific projections for the end of the century.
While having a cyclone travel with less speed may seem like a good thing, nothing good comes out of a slowing storm. Wind speeds within the storm remain high and the system moves slower across the landscape allowing rains to linger longer over communities, increasing the threat of severe flooding and storm surge and increasing the amount of time that structures are subjected to strong wind.
Hurricane Harvey demonstrated last year just how dangerous hurricanes that drop significantly more rain can be. Harvey produced more than 4 feet of rain in some locations, breaking records and causing devastating flooding across the Houston area.
The study has serious implications for inland flooding and urban infrastructure. No storm from today will reproduce in quite the same way in the future, and this illustrates the necessity for resiliency in construction and pre-disaster mitigation approaches.
Click here to view ICC’s hurricane resource webpage to help you prepare for, and deal with, the devastation of hurricanes.