‘Normal’ Number of Storms Forecast for 2016 Hurricane Season

Posted May 27, 2016

(TNS) - MIAMI — Normal could still be bad.

On Friday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecast an average number of storms for the Atlantic hurricane season, with 10 to 16 named storms, four to eight hurricanes and one to four major storms packing winds over 110 mph. But that doesn’t mean that the season, which officially begins Wednesday, could be without trouble. Already a storm has bucked the odds by threatening to form off the coast of Florida over the holiday weekend.

“This is the season to be sure you’re ready for hurricanes and not banking on statistical odds,” NOAA Administrator Kathryn Sullivan said at the agency’s briefing in Maryland.

While they expect a 70 percent chance of the season playing out near normal, Sullivan said several factors make the prediction more uncertain. The El Nino that helped keep the 2015 season slow has begun to fizzle, but it’s not clear if it will actually end before the season begins. Forecasters believe a La Nina, which can fuel storms, has a good chance of forming during peak storm months in August and September, so the back half of the season could be busier.

The outcome of a natural variation in Atlantic water temperatures that occurs over long periods of time, called the multi-decadal oscillation, is also uncertain, Sullivan said. Forecasters believe the oscillation may be transitioning to cooler temperatures, which would tamp down storms. But it’s not yet clear.

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