Just like the lottery numbers being picked, it seems that lately, folks especially along costal communities, wait on bated breathe when NOAA comes out with there seasonal hurricane forecast. Just like the last several years, the forecast this season was no different, as compared to the last 10 seasons, as NOAA said on may 24th: ” “WITH THE ONGOING LA NIÑA, AND ABOVE-AVERAGE ATLANTIC TEMPERATURES, THOSE SHOULD SET THE STAGE FOR ANOTHER BUSY SEASON AHEAD”. As a result, for this hurricane season, NOAA is forecasting a likely range of 14 to 21 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 6 to 10 could be hurricanes and out of that grouping 3-6 could become major hurricanes with wind speeds above 111 mph. While 3 named storms formed in June and July, it has been a very quiet time of it since T.S. Colin dissipated July 3rd. Now as we enter early august, NOAA came out with their usual early august update to the season, where they said during a press conference, that they have slightly decreased the likelihood of an above-normal Atlantic hurricane season from 65% to 60%. With this latest update, the new numbers are in and they are as follows…14-20 named storms, 6-10 hurricanes and 3-5 major hurricanes. As you can see, there has been little change to the may forecast, and looking back in past years, that trend seems to be common.

So how accurate are these seasonal forecasts? Looking back over the last ten years, it turns out that the preseason forecasts do a relatively great job. When it comes to taking an average of the season’s number of storms and comparing it to the total named storms, hurricanes and major hurricanes, NOAA comes out with an average a grade! You can see from the graphic, the number of actual storms each year to the left, then NOAA’s number in the middle column and the right column is the grade received. With the exception of 2020 and 2013 it looks like a super report card, and one you would want to child to attain.

For the rest of this month and really, through mid-October, we need to watch how many tropical waves come off the coast of Africa, as this is where the primary location for storms come from. You can see from these graphics that the origination of any storm travels the course of the Atlantic and then follow one of several tracks as they move over the warm waters of the Atlantic. Tropical cyclones in both the northern and southern hemispheres tend to move westward and drift slowly poleward, but in the northern hemisphere, storms can travel to higher latitudes than in the southern hemisphere because of the presence of warm clockwise oceanic currents such as the gulf stream. In the north Atlantic the warm waters of the gulf stream supply energy to hurricanes as they move along the east coast of the united states, allowing them to survive for a longer time, and it is certainly not out of the question, for intense tropical cyclones to make landfall as far north as Boston, Massachusetts. Just like clockwork, we in the DC News Now weather department, are following the progress of what could be the fourth named system this season, named Danielle. The GFS forecast model shows a common path that a system would take this time of year, so we’ll need to watch it closely. For us locally, it is a rarity that a tropical cyclone gives us a direct hit, as it is really the residual effects that we see from most tropical cyclones, but since it has been a fairly wet forecast that we have seen lately, and the peak of hurricane season is ramping up, the hope is that we have a fairly nondramatic second half of the season.