Forecasters Predict A More Active Hurricane Season

Aug 8, 2019

File photo of rising flood waters brought on by Hurricane Florence that threatened a building off highway 70 in Goldsboro, N.C., Sunday, Sep. 16, 2018.
Credit Ben McKeown / For WUNC

National forecasters say it's likely this hurricane season will be more active than previously expected.  

NOAA released an updated hurricane outlook for the Atlantic coast today. It says there will likely be 10 to 17 named storms this season. That's up from the 9 to 15 storms that were predicted earlier this spring.

The main factor in the new forecast is that the weather event known as El Niño dissipated earlier than expected, according to Meteorologist Gerry Bell.

“Back in May, the hurricane outlook reflected a 60 percent chance of El Niño continuing through the August to October period,” he said. “El Niño usually suppresses hurricanes, but now that it's dissipated, we're expecting conditions to be more favorable for storm development through the rest of the season.”

Bell said there are other conditions developing that usually point to more storms.

“Those enhancing conditions are associated with the ongoing high activity era, and have been producing stronger hurricane seasons since 1995,” Bell said. “They include a stronger west-African monsoon, weaker wind shear across the tropical Atlantic Ocean, and wind patterns coming off of Africa that can more easily spin up storms.”

There were 15 named storms last year, including Hurricane Florence. It made landfall in September and was blamed for 43 deaths in North Carolina.

So far this season, there have been two named storms in the Atlantic.