Near average predictions for the 2019 Atlantic hurricane season
The 2019 hurricane season is officially underway, and the eyes of our News 12 meteorologists will be locked onto the tropics as we head into the summer season.
In terms of what to expect, both NOAA and Colorado State University have predicted a near normal hurricane season for the Atlantic basin. The long-term averages are 12 named storms, six of which will strengthen into hurricanes, with three reaching major status (category 3 or higher).
Colorado State also issues a prediction for something called ACE - accumulated cyclone energy. This is a unit that measures how strong tropical storms and hurricanes are. For 2019, CSU predicts an ACE of 80 units, below the average of 92 units per season.
A major component of a hurricane season prediction is the projected status of El Niño, the abnormal warming of the southeastern Pacific Ocean. Strong El Niño seasons often lead to quieter Atlantic hurricane seasons, as added upper-level wind shear creates an unfavorable environment for storms to form in the tropical Atlantic Ocean. On May 9th, NOAA issued an El Niño Advisory, giving a 70% chance it will continue through the Northern Hemisphere's summer season, as well as 55-60% chance through the fall. This alone points to a potentially slower tropical season.
Countering El Niño is the expected combination of warmer-than-average sea-surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, and an enhanced West African monsoon, both of which favor increased hurricane activity.