AccuWeather & Met Office Hurricane Season Forecasts 2016

AccuWeather 2016 Atlantic Hurricane Season Forecast

AccuWeather Forecast:

  • Named Storms: 14
  • Hurricanes: 8
  • Major Hurricanes: 4
  • U.S. Named Storm Landfalls: 3

The potential movement of a ‘cold blob’ of water in the North Atlantic Ocean may be the wild card in the 2016 Atlantic hurricane season, experts say.

The cold blob refers to a large, anomalous area of colder-than-normal sea-surface temperatures, located east of Newfoundland and south of Greenland.

“This area of colder water started to show up a few years ago and has become larger and more persistent during the past couple of years,” AccuWeather Atlantic Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski said.

Whether or not ocean currents draw cold water from this blob southward into tropical regions of the Atlantic could determine how active the season becomes.

With all potential factors in mind, forecasters are predicting that tropical storms and hurricanes in the Atlantic will total 14 this season, two more than what is considered normal.

If the cooler water migrates southward across the eastern Atlantic, then westward into tropical breeding grounds, it will lower sea-surface temperatures over the region where 85 percent of Atlantic tropical systems develop.

Another possibility is that the water from the cold blob could alter the makeup of deep ocean currents and affect the salinity of the water.

If this happens, the pattern of warming waters that has been occurring since 1995 will reverse, leading to a period of cooling.

Either of these scenarios would limit tropical development in the Atlantic.

If these scenarios don’t occur, sea-surface temperatures will remain mostly warmer than normal, likely resulting in a season more active than in the past three years.

Should this be the case, experts believe the current El Niño will weaken, eventually leading to a neutral pattern by the end of the spring or early summer.

“The big question is whether we will go into a La Niña, which is what we’re anticipating right now,” Kottlowski said.

La Niña is characterized by cooler-than-normal ocean water temperatures in the Pacific Ocean near the equator.

When this occurs, less wind shear is found in the developmental regions of the Atlantic, increasing the potential for a higher-than-normal amount of tropical systems.

“Historically, some hurricane seasons that have followed a transition from El Niño to La Niña have been very active. It’s possible we could flip from one extreme to the other, from below-normal seasons the past three years to an above-normal year in 2016,” he said.

Met Office predicts slightly above-average Atlantic hurricane season

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The Met Office is predicting that the most likely number of tropical storms to form in the Atlantic between June and November will be 14 according to its long-range Atlantic tropical storm forecast for 2016 released today.

There is a 70% chance that the number of storms will be in the range 10 to 18. This represents slightly above-normal activity relative to the 1980–2010 average of 12 tropical storms.

The forecast number of hurricanes — tropical storms with winds of at least 74 mph — is 8 (70% range 6 to 10); the average number of hurricanes is 6.

The forecast Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) index — a measure of the strength and duration of storms over the season — is 125 (70% range 77 to 173); the average ACE index is 104.

The North Atlantic hurricane season typically runs from June to November, but has already seen one hurricane (Alex) in January 2016. Alex was the first Atlantic hurricane to form in the month of January since 1938.

Alex141300

Hurricane Alex at 1300 UTC on 14 January 2016 in the eastern Atlantic.            Credit: NASA Earth Observatory

The evolution of the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) over the next few months will play a large part in the North Atlantic hurricane season.

The last year has seen one of the strongest El Niño events on record in the tropical Eastern Pacific, but this has now substantially weakened.

Prediction systems from forecast centres around the world suggest that this event will soon terminate, with many transitioning to La Niña conditions by the peak of the hurricane season.

Joanne Camp, climate scientist at the Met Office, said: “El Niño conditions in the Pacific can hinder the development of tropical storms in the Atlantic whereas La Niña conditions can enhance tropical storm activity, so how these conditions develop will be important for the storm season ahead.”

The tropical storm forecast is produced using the Met Office’s seasonal forecast system, GloSea5.

For regular updates on tropical cyclones worldwide follow @metofficestorms on Twitter.

Around June 1st I will throw in my own thoughts on the upcoming hurricane season.

See today’s video.

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