WILMINGTON — It has been a slow start to the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has lowered this season’s predictions.
“Conditions in the ocean and the atmosphere are conspiring to produce a less active Atlantic hurricane season than initially predicted in May, though NOAA and FEMA are raising caution as the season enters its peak months,” according to a statement from NOAA.
While hurricane season is not yet over, there is now an updated outlook of nine to 13 named storms, four to seven hurricanes, and between no and two major hurricanes predicted.
“Seasonal forecasters with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center have increased the likelihood of a below-normal Atlantic hurricane season to 60 percent (up from 25 percent in May) in the updated outlook, issued today. The likelihood of a near-normal season is now at 30 percent, and the chance of an above-normal season has dropped from 35 percent to 10 percent,” according to NOAA.
Hurricane season begins in June and ends Nov. 30 –- currently, there have only been four named storms, two of which have been hurricanes. The average hurricane season produces 12 named storms, half of which are hurricanes, and three major hurricanes.
Several factors are contributing to the lowered forecast including El Niño, as well as sea surface temperatures.
“NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center updated its forecast to a nearly 70 percent likelihood of El Nino during the hurricane season. Additionally, sea surface temperatures across the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea have remained much cooler than average. A combination of stronger wind shear, drier air and increased stability of the atmosphere in the region where storms typically develop will further suppress hurricanes,” according to NOAA.