Saturday, June 1, 2013

Hurricane Season 2013 - What's Ahead

Hurricane Andrew, 1992
June 1st marks the start of meteorological summer, and probably more significant for those on the east and Gulf coasts, it's the start of the 2013 hurricane season.The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued it's hurricane season outlook for 2013 about a week ago.  The bottom line is that this is expected to be the fourth consecutive very active hurricane season in the Atlantic.

The outlook is based on current conditions in the Atlantic basin, expected atmospheric conditions over the course of the season, and model forecasts. The three key atmospheric factors that point to a very active hurricane season are:

  • A continuation of the atmospheric climate pattern, which includes a strong west African monsoon, that is responsible for the ongoing era of high activity for Atlantic hurricanes that began in 1995
  • Warmer-than-average water temperatures in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea
  • El NiƱo is not expected to develop and suppress hurricane formation.

NOAA estimates that there is a 70 percent probability that there will be

    13-20 Named Storms
    7-11 Hurricanes
    3-6 Major Hurricanes (Category 3 to Category 5) [link]

In other words, in all seasons with similar climate conditions to those expected this year, 70 percent of those seasons had activity that fell within the ranges above.

This compares to the official 1981-2010 seasonal averages of 12 named storms, 6 hurricanes, and 3 major hurricanes

How did the outlook verify in 2012?  In May 2012 the NOAA outlook was for 9-15 named storms, 4-8 hurricanes, and 1-3 major hurricanes. The outlook was updated in August to 12-17 named storms, 5-8 hurricanes, and 2-3 major hurricanes.  The actual count for 2012 was 19 named storms, 8 hurricanes, and 2 major hurricanes. The two major hurricanes were Michael, which did not make landfall, and Sandy, which did.

Tracks of the named tropical storms in the Atlantic basin in 2012
For a full-size, high resolution version of this map and track maps for previous years, visit the NHC Data Archive.

The 2010, 2011, and 2012 seasons each had 19 named storms in the Atlantic.

This Atlantic hurricane season outlook will be updated in early August, which coincides with the onset of the peak months of the hurricane season. The greatest frequency of tropical storms occurs in mid-September.

Number of tropical cyclones per 100 years

During the month of June tropical storm formation is favored in the Gulf of Mexico and the western Caribbean.

Here are the names of 2013 storms:


Hurricane preparedness week was May 23-June 1. For more information on tropical storms and how to prepare for them, visit  the National Hurricane Center's Hurricane Preparedness web site.  The site has video and audio presentations in both English and Spanish.

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