Today marks the official start of the 2014 Atlantic Hurricane Season which will continue through November. Just last week, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) published their outlook for the 2014 Atlantic hurricane season. NOAA predicts that the 2014 Atlantic basin hurricane season will be at or below normal. According to NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, there is a 70% chance of 8 to 13 named storms with 3 to 6 of those becoming hurricanes with 1 to 2 major hurricanes (category 3 or higher).
Below is a comparison of the NOAA and Colorado States predictions along with the 1981-2010 average and what we saw in 2013. As you can see, the 2014 predictions are all below the relative mild 2013 hurricane season.
NOAA and CSU both indicate that the anticipated development of El Niño in the Pacific Ocean will be a driving force this year. If El Niño does develop, it would strengthen the trade winds resulting in a more stable atmosphere in the tropical Atlantic. Cooler Atlantic Ocean surface temperatures will also play a role in suppressing the number and intensity of storm development this year. CSU found 5 comparative years with similar atmospheric and oceanic conditions combined with years with at least a moderate El Niño and cooler surface water temperatures. CSU’s prediction for 2014 fall mostly below the comparative 5 year average.
El Niño – La Niña Influence on Hurricane Season
El Niño is a 12-18 month period with warmer sea surface temperatures occur in the eastern half of the Pacific Ocean near the equator. El Niño favors stronger hurricane activity in the central and eastern Pacific Ocean, and suppresses activity in the Atlantic Ocean. Moderate to strong El Niño events are irregular, occurring maybe once every 3 to 7 years. In contrast, La Niña suppresses hurricane activity in the central and eastern Pacific Ocean, and enhances development in the Atlantic Ocean. For more on the the subject check out a great article over at Climate.gov.
2014 Atlantic Basin Tropical Cyclone Names
It is important to keep in mind that this annual forecast is a prediction, not what will happen. Last year should be all the proof one needs to realize Mother Nature can, and will do whatever she wants. It is imperative to stay alert in the event a system develops and for those living in coastal areas to be prepared.