The 2019 Atlantic basin hurricane season will bring 13 named storms but have slightly below-normal hurricane activity overall, according to forecasters with Colorado State University (CSU).
Forecasters with the university’s Department of Atmospheric Science said they expect the coming season, which traditionally is June through Nov. 1, to bring five hurricanes and two major hurricanes, both slightly below the 1981-2010 average.
“The current weak El Nino event appears likely to persist and perhaps even strengthen this summer/fall,” the CSU forecasters said in an extended-range outlook issued Thursday. “Sea surface temperatures averaged across the tropical Atlantic are slightly below normal, and the far North Atlantic is anomalously cool...We anticipate slightly below-average probability for major hurricanes making landfall along the continental United States coastline and in the Caribbean.”
The probability for at least one major hurricane (Category 3 or higher) making landfall with the entire continental U.S. coastline during the 2019 season is 48%, below the 52% average for the last century, according to the forecasters.
For the East Coast, including the Florida Peninsula, the chance of at least one major hurricane making landfall is 28%, versus an average 31% chance over the last century. As for the Gulf Coast and the Florida Panhandle, the CSU forecasters called for a 28% chance of a major hurricane making landfall, versus an average 30%.
With U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG) export capacity ramping up in 2019, this year’s hurricane season could have new implications for the natural gas market beyond the traditional supply side impacts of storms hitting the Gulf of Mexico (GOM).
Earlier this year, consulting firm Energy Aspects highlighted potential downside risks for LNG exports from major weather events. With gas exports from Gulf Coast terminals from Cheniere Energy Inc., Freeport and Cameron LNG projects “potentially all running this summer, the demand side impacts from weather could be far larger than anything the market has yet to witness, and capacity utilization at LNG storage will be crucial in determining how feedgas does (or does not) get throttled back amidst such conditions,” analysts said.
The firm pointed to a “deep fog event” in February that impacted exports from Cheniere’s Sabine Pass terminal in Louisiana as an example of the potential for weather in the GOM to disrupt LNG demand.