US to see below-average 2012 hurricane season – scientists

04 April 2012 17:40  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--The US will see a below-average 2012 Atlantic basin hurricane season because of cooling in tropical Atlantic conditions and a likely El Nino event this summer, US scientists said in a forecast on Wednesday.

Scientists at the Colorado State University’s (CSU) forecast team said to expect 10 tropical storms from the Atlantic severe enough to be named during the hurricane season which runs from 1 June to 30 November.

Four of those storms are expected to become hurricanes, of which two will be major hurricanes, the scientists said.

Last year, there were 19 named Atlantic storms, including seven hurricanes and three major hurricanes.

Chemical manufacturers on the Gulf coast keep a close eye on weather patterns during the hurricane season, since they can disrupt operations. However, no hurricane hit the US Gulf coast in 2011.

Despite the prediction of a less active season this year, the scientists warned that it only takes one hurricane landfall to make it an active season for US coastal residents.

“We have witnessed cooling of the tropical Atlantic during this past winter, and there is a fairly high likelihood that an El Nino event will develop this summer,” said Phil Klotzbach of the CSU’s Tropical Meteorology Project.

Typically, El Nino is associated with stronger vertical shear across the tropical Atlantic, creating conditions less conducive for storm formation, Klotzbach said.

An El Nino is typically described as a warming of the surface water in the eastern and central Pacific that occurs every four to 12 years.

“Still, all vulnerable coastal residents should make the same hurricane preparations every year, regardless of how active or inactive the seasonal forecast is,” Klotzbach added.

“It takes only one landfall event near you to make this an active season,” he said.

Additional reporting by Brian Ford

By: Stefan Baumgarten
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