The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) today presented its forecasts for the cyclonic season in the Atlantic basin, which affects the United States, the Caribbean and Mexico for six months.
The cyclonic activity will be "close to normal," the report states, in which it is specified that between 1 and 4 of the predicted hurricanes will be of a higher category on the Saffir-Simpson scale, out of a maximum of 5.
In a season considered normal by NOAA, an average of 12 tropical storms are formed, of which 6 become hurricanes and 3 of them reach higher categories.
The agency specified that there is a 45% probability that the hurricane season will be "almost normal", and a 30% and 25% that its activity is above or below normal, respectively.
The forecast includes Hurricane Alex, the first hurricane in the Atlantic to form in January in nearly eighty years.
“The forecast for this hurricane season is more challenging than most others. because it is difficult to determine whether it will strengthen or weather influences will affect the development of tropical storms, ”said Gerry Bell, chief meteorologist at NOAA's Center for Climate Prediction.
In this context, Bell advanced that "a prediction of cyclonic activity close to normal suggests that we can see more hurricanes than we have seen in the last three years", whose number "was below normal".
He also referred in the report to the "existing uncertainty about whether the era of high activity" of hurricanes in the Atlantic, which began in 1995, has ended.
New period of less activity
In this context, the meteorologist pointed out that, if "a change was proven" in the current pattern of cyclonic activity in the Atlantic, a new period of less activity could have begun, lasting 25 to 40 years.
Another contributing factor in the development of this hurricane season is the “dissipation” of the “El Niño” phenomenon and the presence of “La Niña” in the Pacific, which favors the formation of hurricanes in the Atlantic, especially between the months of August and October.
However, "current forecasting models show uncertainty regarding the strength of‘ La Niña ’and what its impact will be," the NOAA report states.
In recent years, the main element responsible for below-normal cyclonic activity in the Atlantic has been “El Niño”, very present in the Pacific, which inhibits the formation of hurricanes in the Atlantic.
With “El Niño” there is an increase in the action of shear winds in the upper layers of the Atlantic, which reduces cyclonic activity in these waters.
Right now, meteorologists are monitoring the evolution of a low pressure between the Bahamas and Bermuda that could become the first depression or tropical storm in the Atlantic.
2015: Activity below normal
The hurricane season in the Atlantic basin of 2015 ended with activity below normal, with 11 tropical storms, but it will be remembered for the category 4 cyclone Joaquín, which left 76 dead in its wake, 33 of whom were crew members. of the cargo ship "El Faro", which sank in Bahamian waters.
The state of Florida has been on a ten-year streak without being hit by a hurricane. The last major cyclone to make landfall in this state was Wilma, in 2005, setting a new record for the peninsula.