Today, June 1, marks the official beginning of the 2018 hurricane season for the Atlantic Basin. The season runs from 1st June to 30th November 2018. However the formation of tropical cyclones is possible at any time of the year, as shown by the formation of Subtropical Storm Alberto on May 25. This is now the fourth consecutive year that a storm has developed before the official start of the hurricane season.
The Seasonal Hurricane forecasts for 2018 issued by several agencies are suggesting that tropical cyclone activity will be normal to slightly above normal in the Atlantic Basin (North Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico) this year. The consensus among these agencies is for there to be about twelve to fourteen (12 to 14) named storms, of those six to seven (6 to 7) are likely to become hurricanes and two (2) are expected to become major hurricanes (Category 3 or stronger). An average season in the Atlantic Basin consists of twelve (12) named storms, six (6) hurricanes and two (2) major hurricanes.
The main factors that were used in forecasting the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season are:
(1) ENSO-neutral conditions (no El Niño or La Niña) or weak El Niño
(2)Near-average Sea Surface Temperatures (SSTs) in the Tropical Atlantic
(3)Near-average or weaker wind shear
What Does this Means for Belize?
There is no strong correlation between the number of storms or hurricanes that form in any given season and the number of storms that make landfall in Belize. One or more of the 12 to 14 named storms forecast to develop this season could hit the country, or none at all. Therefore history teaches us, that as a nation located in such a vulnerable area, especially along the coast, we should be prepared each year no matter what is the forecast is. The National Meteorological Service of Belize will continue to use its team of professional meteorologists and forecasts along with specialized equipment such as our Doppler Radar and network of automatic weather stations, to continue to monitor the region for any tropical cyclone development and to inform the general public in a timely manner though the National Emergency Management Organization.