Hurricane season started Sept. 1st and will continue until November 30th. Like all hurricanes, these storms have an increasing potential to become major hurricanes. On top of having a potential to be a major hurricane, El Niño can increase the odds by boosting rainfall along the East Coast, the Gulf Coast, and Florida.
This year’s Hurricane Season has been relatively quiet. However, the USG is raising its official cyclone prediction from “above normal” to “above normal” for this Atlantic season. This prediction is based on the current atmospheric and oceanic conditions as well as experience, as there have been only seven named storms in the Atlantic this year (four of which became hurricanes). Although fewer than usual, the incoming storms have had a significantly more active wind pattern than normal. The average Atlantic has 65 named storms (30 of which become hurricanes and nine of which become major hurricanes). This year has only seen 24 named storms (16 of which become hurricanes and six of which become major hurricanes).
The main question, especially for Category 3+ hurricanes, is whether they have enough time to reach a tropical storm storm track that is north of the North Carolina coast. If they do, the storm will gain power and send an “eye wall” of strong wind, especially in the South Atlantic. The “eye wall” can be an obstruction to sea traffic and hamper planning for evacuation and response efforts in this hurricane prone region. In Florida, the eye wall usually sets up right on the northern shore of the peninsula. However, I have now had two Category 4 storms that failed to cross the “eye wall” and tried to make a right-hand turn. The “eye wall” around the North Carolina coast is extremely shallow and could quickly take a storm north of the forecast track. These storms could pose a huge impact on the Carolinas, as recent historical records show that the Carolinas have experienced Category 3+ hurricanes in every current Atlantic season since 1950.
The Atlantic has not had a positive hurricane season since 2013, except for 2016, and last year it only had a neutral conditions. Hence, in addition to the chance of above normal Atlantic storms, it’s very important to have an El Niño effect before the storms begin to form. If there is no El Niño in September, it will be very rare to have a positive Atlantic hurricane season. In fact, it has been since 2010, and we are currently entering a La Niña with both our weather and hurricane experts so they will both be watching this very closely.