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Science

CSU Atlantic Hurricane Outlook Calls For Mild Season

HurricaneIvan.jpg
NOAA
An image of Hurricane Ivan, a Category 5 hurricane that hit the U.S. Southeast in 2004.

This year's Atlantic hurricane season is likely to be a calm one, according to the annual tropical storm outlook released April 9 by Colorado State University.  

Phil Klotzbach is a research scientist with the Tropical Meteorology Project at CSU, and heads up the forecasting project. Klotzbach said the number of named storms, hurricanes and major hurricanes is predicted to be "about half the average hurricane season."

That means the forecasters are predicting only seven named storms, three that become intense enough to become hurricanes, and only one major hurricane.

The reasons for the quiet season are twofold. First, there's an El Niño -- an area of above average ocean temperatures -- in the Pacific Ocean. While it may seem strange that something happening an ocean away can affect Atlantic hurricanes, there is a connection.

"El Niño…increases upper level westerly winds in the Caribbean into the tropical Atlantic, tearing apart the developing tropical storms and hurricanes," said Klotzbach.

Second, temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean are expected to be cool.  That gives less energy to storms as they are trying to form.

The Atlantic hurricane season begins June 1 and lasts through November 30. The April forecast released by CSU is the earliest outlook; the other U.S.-based hurricane forecast is created by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Their first outlook will be released in May.

The CSU forecast will be updated June 1, at the start of hurricane season.

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