The probability of a transition from a Pacific El Nino to a La Nina event later this year, which many forecasters believe could pump up tropical storm activity in the Atlantic Basin, could also lead to a hotter-than-normal summer, according to MDA Weather Services.
The June-through-August period is expected to be 9.6% hotter than the 30-year norm, based on population-weighted cooling degree days, which would rank the summer as the fifth hottest since at least 1950, slightly hotter than the 10-year norm and only slightly hotter than last year, MDA said.
"Most signals point to a hot summer, including the breakdown of the record strong El Nino seen this past winter into a La Nina later this year," said Bradley Harvey, MDA lead meteorologist. "Warm Atlantic waters will help to enhance the Bermuda high, which will bring a focus of heat to the Central and Eastern U.S."
MDA is also expecting a more-active-than-normal 2016 Atlantic hurricane season, with 14 named storms, including seven hurricanes, three of them major hurricanes (Category 3 or higher). That dovetails with the prognostication of AccuWeather forecasters, who said this week they expect 14 named storms, eight of them hurricanes, including four major hurricanes, and WeatherBell Analytics forecaster Joe Bastardi, who expects 11-14 named storms, six to eight of them hurricanes, and two to five of those major hurricanes (see Daily GPI, April 2). A typical Atlantic hurricane season produces a dozen named storms.
Many weather forecasters, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, are predicting a 40% chance of a La Nina event developing by fall (see Daily GPI, March 2).
A combination of fewer tropical storms and a lessening reliance on Gulf of Mexico production (thanks to the growth of production from inland shale plays) has kept hurricane-related damage to the nation's energy infrastructure and markets to a minimum in recent years.
The National Hurricane Center named the first hurricane of 2016 in January. Hurricane Alex, the first hurricane to form in the Atlantic in January since 1938, remained well out at sea and did not threaten the North American mainland.