- The U.S. could see even more storms than initially expected in 2011, according to a new forecast by government meteorologists. Here, Hurricane Frances reaches back to smack Florida in 2004. (NOAA/NASA)
Instead of just a lot of Atlantic tropical storms this year, the U.S. and Caribbean nations should expect to see a whole heckuva lot, according to a revised 2011 hurricane forecast released today by NOAA's Climate Prediction Center.
The original NOAA prediction called for 12 to 18 named storms, out of which six to 10 hurricanes would grow. Three to six of those hurricanes would be "major" with winds in excess of 111 m.p.h., and would pose a significant danger should they make landfall. (The odds of landfalls is not something NOAA talks about in these outlooks, because it's so hard to tell.)
The new prediction ups the ante with 14 to 19 named storms, seven to 10 hurricanes and three to five "major" hurricanes. The average hurricane season (June 1 to Nov. 30) sees 11 named storms, six hurricanes and two major hurricanes. The NOAA forecasters said their confidence in an above-average Atlantic season has grown for 65 percent in May when the original outlook was scripted to 85 percent today. Take a look:
What's behind the bumped-up threat level?
The outlook cites several things going on in the climate that are conducive to tropical-storm growth, such as the third-warmest water temperatures on record in the Atlantic, decreased wind shear and lower air pressure in the tropics, the potential resurgence of La Niña and a "tropical multi-decadal signal" that has primed the pump for hurricanes in the past decade and a half.
Here's the dismal conclusion from NOAA today:
“The atmosphere and Atlantic Ocean are primed for high hurricane activity during August through October,” said Gerry Bell, Ph.D., lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at the Climate Prediction Center. “Storms through October will form more frequently and become more intense than we’ve seen so far this season.”