10 April 2013 17:45 [Source: ICIS news]
HOUSTON (ICIS)--Keeping a watchful eye on the Gulf of Mexico and out further into the Atlantic Ocean basin, hurricane forecasters from Colorado State University (CSU) on Wednesday predicted above-average activity with 18 named storms during the 2013 hurricane season, which runs from 1 June to 30 November.
With 30 years of issuing hurricane predictions and lead by prestigious forecaster Dr. William Gray, the CSU team believes the increased activity will be due to irregular warming of the tropical Atlantic waters and anticipated lack of an El Nino event in the Pacific Ocean.
El Nino is the term given to a 12-18 month period of warm ocean currents of variable intensity that form in the eastern half of the equatorial Pacific about once every 3-7 years on average and have demonstrated ability to reduce formation of tropical weather disturbances.
The report asserts that the probability for a major hurricane making landfall on the US coastline is at 72% for the 2013 period. CSU forecasters state that the average for the last century is 52%. A major storm is a Category 3 hurricane or higher with sustained winds of 111mph or greater.
In terms of US Gulf Coast versus east coast landfalls, the report said that the east coast has only a slightly higher chance at 48% of being struck by a Category 3 or stronger storm, versus 47% for the Gulf of Mexico region. The Caribbean has a 61% chance of being hit by a major hurricane, the report said.
“The tropical Atlantic has anomalously warmed over the past several months, and it appears that the chances of an El Nino event this summer and fall are unlikely,” said Phil Klotzback, co-author of the CSU Tropical Meteorology Project report. “Typically, El Nino is associated with stronger vertical sheer across the tropical Atlantic, creating conditions less conducive for storm formation.”
The annual forecast is based on a premise that global oceanic and atmospheric conditions that are present before hurricane seasons are a useful indicator of what type of storms could occur in the current year of prediction.
The report said that under those criteria there has been five hurricane seasons since 1900 which have exhibited similar weather conditions as those observed by the research team during February and March of 2013. Four out of those five years resulted in an above-average cycle of storms.
While residents along these areas always need to be prepared for such events, the oil and gas industries will also be very mindful of possible disruptions in their main corridors of drilling, exploration and transportation, as previous storms have led to major disruptions in operations and supply chains and have caused price spikes.
Of the forecasted 18 named storms, CSU estimates nine will becomes hurricanes and that four of them will be major hurricanes. The researchers will issue forecast updates on 3 June and 2 August.
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