Federal weather forecasters say the 2016 hurricane season will be “near normal” but they can’t really say what normal is now.
The hurricane season official began Wednesday, June 1 and runs through November 30. NOAA ‘s Climate Prediction Center says “forecast uncertainty in the climate signals that influence the formation of Atlantic storms make predicting this season particularly difficult.”
NOAA predicts a 70 percent likelihood of 10 to 16 names storms.
The climate agency thinks there’ll be just under 20 storms (with winds of 39 mph or higher) that get names. And of those, 4 to 8 of them could become hurricanes (with winds of 111 mar or higher).
The “high activity era” of hurricanes on the Atlantic Ocean has ended, according to NOAA. Water temperatures are cooling as a West African monsoon weakens. If it continues as expected, the new low-activity era could last 25 to 40 years.
However, that prediction is iffy because El Niño is dissipating and is likely to be replaced by La Niña, which creates more hurricane activity. NOAA gives chances of that happening at 70 percent and likely during peak hurricane season during the months of August through October. But that all depends on how strong La Niña gets.
Officials say a new super computer system has increased their ability to let people know of pending bad weather this season. And more investments will come online later this season.
“As our Hurricane Forecast Improvement Programoffsite link turns five, we’re on target with our five-year goal to improve track and intensity forecasts by 20 percent each,” said NOAA Administrator Kathryn Sullivan, Ph.D.
One of the improvements will be the National Water Model, providing hourly inland flooding forecasts for 700 times more locations than the current system. They’ll also have a next generation weather satellite in the Fall that will scan the Earth five times faster, with a resolution four times greater that will produce sharper images of hurricanes and other severe weather.