Forecasters are predicting a roughly 50 percent chance a major hurricane could hit Florida or the East Coast this upcoming hurricane season.
Colorado State University’s William Gray, Ph.D., is predicting 18 named storms in the Atlantic, which is 1.5 times the 30-year median of 12. Nine of those, he said, will be hurricanes and four could become major hurricanes (Category 3 or higher). Both of these projections are well above climatology, with the major hurricane numbers nearly twice as high as the 30-year median.
Hurricane season in the Atlantic is from June 1 to Nov. 30.
Gray, who has won awards for his hurricane predictions, calculated a 72 percent probability that a major hurricane will hit the US in 2013. The East Coast has a 48 percent chance of seeing a land-falling Category 3 or greater storm this season, and the probability that landfall would occur in Florida is 34 percent, well above the climatological average of 21 percent.
His projections are based on the “premise that global oceanic and atmospheric conditions that preceded active or inactive seasons in the past provide meaningful information about similar trends in future seasons,” which is not always true for individual seasons.
The irregular warm water temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean and the unlikely development of an El Niño in the Pacific Ocean are contributing factors to the potentially active season. An El Niño, a warm ocean current that flows toward and along the Pacific Ocean to the western coast of South America, has been known to suppress tropical storm formation.
WRUF Weather is tabulating the numbers and will have a complete report on all of the forecasts and their potential impacts to North Central Florida over the coming weeks leading up the start of the 2013 hurricane season.