Forecasters at AccuWeather.com expect another active hurricane season this year, with 16 named storms, including eight hurricanes, four of them major (Category 3 or higher), to form in the Atlantic Basin, with as many as three hurricanes making landfall in the United States.
The 2013 Atlantic hurricane season, which officially begins June 1, “may begin quickly this year,” with tropical storm formation possible in the Caribbean before July, according to the forecasters. And conditions may be setting the stage for stronger storms than were seen in 2012, they said.
“Episodes of Saharan dust, a factor that can stifle a storm’s development, may be less frequent this season. The reduced amount of dust may allow storms with a strength of Category 2 or higher to develop.”
Last year, two named storms formed prior to the official start of the hurricane season (see NGI, June 4, 2012). Those early storms were an “anomaly,” said AccuWeather.com Senior Meteorologist Dan Kottlowski. “We think that this year will be more in line with a typical active season.”
Where hurricanes might make landfall remains unclear, the forecasters said.
The AccuWeather.com tropical forecast is similar to one issued last month by Weather Services International, which expects 16 named storms, including nine hurricanes, five of them major to form this year (see NGI, April 15). Forecasters at Colorado State University (CSU) have said they expect the upcoming hurricane season will have more activity than the median 1981-2010 season, with an estimated 18 named storms, including nine hurricanes, four of them major.
The CSU forecasters estimate a 61% probability for at least one major hurricane to track into the Caribbean this year, compared with a 42% average over the last century. The probability of a at least one major hurricane making landfall between the Florida Panhandle and in South Texas near Brownsville are an estimated 47%, compared with 30% over the last century, and there is a 48% probability of a major hurricane hitting the U.S. East Coast.
The 2012 Atlantic hurricane season produced 19 named storms, including 10 hurricanes, one of them major, continuing a decades-long high-activity era in the Atlantic Basin (see NGI, Dec. 3, 2012). It was the second consecutive year that the mid-Atlantic and Northeast suffered devastating impacts from a named storm (see NGI, Nov. 5, 2012), but it was the seventh consecutive year that no major hurricanes hit the United States. Hurricane Isaac was the only storm in 2012 to cause significant disruption to energy interests in the Gulf of Mexico (see NGI, Nov. 12, 2012).
Atlantic hurricanes don’t present quite the threat to North American oil and natural gas interests that they did in the past, according to Federal Energy Regulatory Commission staffer Devin Hartman, of the Commission’s Office of Enforcement (OE).
“Generally speaking, hurricanes do not have as large an impact on U.S. energy markets as they did several years ago, due to the shift in U.S. natural gas production away from the Gulf of Mexico and to onshore shale production,” Hartman said during a presentation of OE’s Summer 2013 Energy Market and Reliability Assessment Thursday (see related story).
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