The Season’s Activity Highly Depends on a COLD BLOB in the North Atlantic - Did you know that 2016 already had a hurricane developing outside of the Atlantic Hurricane Season? Hurricane Alex developed in January, becoming the first hurricane for 2016, breaking normal records of storms developing within the hurricane season. So the first storm of the Atlantic Hurricane Season will be named Bonnie. Hurricane predictions for this year has a forecast of a slightly above average season.
Not to scare anybody, but the 2016 Atlantic hurricane season is expected to be the most active since 2012, according to a forecast released by The Weather Company, an IBM Business. This still has it at an average season when it comes to storm activity.
A total of 14 named storms, eight hurricanes and three major hurricanes are forecast during the coming season. Forecasters are closely monitoring a ‘cold blob’ of water in the North Atlantic Ocean that may determine how active the 2016 hurricane season is. The cold blob refers to a large, anomalous area of colder-than-normal sea-surface temperatures, located east of Newfoundland and south of Greenland.
The cold water could drift southward into the tropical regions of the Atlantic and lower sea-surface temperatures, reducing the developments of hurricanes. The ‘cold blob’ can also alter the makeup of deep ocean currents and affect the salinity of the water and lead to a period of cooling that will also limit tropical development in the Atlantic. This ‘cold blob’ will play a very important role in the Atlantic hurricane season, and forecasters can only wait to see what it will do in order to adjust their predictions.
What’s also notable for 2015, is that while the Atlantic basin season was below average, the eastern and central pacific seasons both set some new records, eight including the record for strongest hurricane (Patricia).
Names for Atlantic Hurricane Season 2016
Hurricane Alex: (January 14, 2016 - Subtropical Storm Alex develops into a hurricane, the first hurricane to form in January since 1938. January 15, 2016 - Weakens to a post-tropical cyclone.)
*Numbers of Atlantic Basin named storms, those that attain at least tropical storm strength, hurricanes, and hurricanes of Category 3 intensity forecast by The Weather Company (right column), Colorado State University (middle column) compared to the 30-year average (left column)
There are a lot of really smart people working on hurricane forecasts, but nobody really knows what is actually going to happen in 2016. It is always better to be prepared for the worst, even if the forecast is for an average season. Remember that the year started with unusual activity, and the hurricane season is one month away. That’s why now is the best time to start making sure your hurricane preparedness plan is up to date.
An important note about both outlooks is that the seasonal forecast numbers do include Hurricane Alex, a rare January hurricane that struck the Azores a few months back. Though the official hurricane season spans the months from June through November, occasionally we can see storms form outside those months.