Sunday, May 25, 2014

Hurricane forecasts as the season begins

It's time to be a good environmentalist and recycle the top stories from Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (Hurricane season arrives).  The first one, which has been getting a lot of traffic, comes from NOAA.

NOAA predicts near-normal or below-normal 2014 Atlantic hurricane season
El Niño expected to develop and suppress the number and intensity of tropical cyclones
May 22, 2014
In its 2014 Atlantic hurricane season outlook issued today, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center is forecasting a near-normal or below-normal season.

The main driver of this year’s outlook is the anticipated development of El Niño this summer. El Niño causes stronger wind shear, which reduces the number and intensity of tropical storms and hurricanes. El Niño can also strengthen the trade winds and increase the atmospheric stability across the tropical Atlantic, making it more difficult for cloud systems coming off of Africa to intensify into tropical storms.

The outlook calls for a 50 percent chance of a below-normal season, a 40 percent chance of a near-normal season, and only a 10 percent chance of an above-normal season.  For the six-month hurricane season, which begins June 1, NOAA predicts a 70 percent likelihood of 8 to 13 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 3 to 6 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 1 to 2 major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of 111 mph or higher).
That wasn't the only prediction NOAA made.  Follow over the jump for the agency's forecast for the eastern Pacific, as well as news of the first hurricane of the season from The Weather Channel.

NOAA predicts near-normal or above-normal Eastern Pacific hurricane season
May 22, 2014
NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center announced today that a near-normal or above-normal hurricane season is likely for the Eastern Pacific this year. The outlook calls for a 50 percent chance of an above-normal season, a 40 percent chance of a near-normal season, and a 10 percent chance of a below normal season.

Seasonal hurricane forecasters are calling for a 70 percent chance of 14 to 20 named storms, which includes 7 to 11 hurricanes, of which 3 to 6 are expected to become major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale).

An average Eastern Pacific hurricane season produces 15 named storms, with eight becoming hurricanes and four becoming major hurricanes. The Eastern Pacific hurricane season runs from May 15 through Nov. 30, with peak activity from July through September.
As soon as that forecast was issued, the first hurricane of the year developed.

Hurricane Amanda: 2014 Hurricane Season's First Named Storm in the Eastern Pacific
The first hurricane of the eastern Pacific hurricane season, Hurricane Amanda, formed Thursday afternoon as a tropical depression about 635 miles south-southwest of Manzanillo, Mexico, and is moving toward the west-northwest. A turn more toward the north is likely later this weekend into early next week. Other than a few minor islands well offshore such as Socorro Island, it is no threat to land.

Amanda became the season's first hurricane Saturday morning, as a period of rapid intensification began. By Saturday evening, Amanda reached major hurricane status with maximum sustained winds of 115 mph. Major hurricanes are defined as those reaching at least Category 3 on the five-category Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.
Fortunately, Hurricane Amanda will not threaten the North American mainland.  Just the same, welcome to hurricane season.

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