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Atlantic Hurricane Season Remains on Moderate Track, WSI Says

The first half of the 2014 Atlantic Hurricane season has produced only three named storms -- none of them having any significant impact on the U.S. energy industry -- and forecasters at Weather Services International (WSI) don't expect the second half to be much worse.

By the time the season ends on Nov. 30, WSI forecasters expect a total of 10 named storms, including five hurricanes, two of them major (Category 3 or higher) to have formed in the Atlantic. That's down slightly from WSI's previous forecasts of 11 named storms, including five hurricanes, two of them major (see Daily GPI, July 23; June 24; May 19). And it would be below both the 1950-2013 norms of 12/7/3 and the more recent "active period" (1995-2013) normals of 15/8/4.

"Our objective models continue to be in very good agreement, with three completely independent techniques suggesting between eight and 12 named storms for the season, and all techniques showing five hurricanes and two major hurricanes," said WSI Chief Meteorologist Todd Crawford. "Tropical Atlantic surface temperatures continue to run quite cool, which should help limit the number of storms that develop in the main development region during the upcoming peak of the season."

Since its June 1 start, the 2014 Atlantic hurricane season has produced three named storms, all of them reaching hurricane status. Hurricane Arthur, which skirted the Atlantic seaboard during the first week of July, cooled some eastern population centers and capped demand for natural gas over the Independence Day weekend (see Daily GPI, July 7). Hurricane Bertha formed east of the southern Lesser Antilles in the closing hours of July and had little effect on U.S. energy interests or natural gas prices before dissipating about 500 miles south of Halifax, NS, Aug. 6.

Hurricane Cristobal, which was churning northward through the Atlantic near midday Tuesday, about 545 miles southwest of Bermuda, is expected to remain at sea and have little impact on the U.S. East Coast (see Daily GPI, Aug. 26).

Earlier this month, forecasters at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said they were "more confident that a below-normal season will occur because atmospheric and oceanic conditions that suppress cyclone formation have developed and will persist through the season" (see Daily GPI, Aug. 7). NOAA calculated a 70% chance of a below-normal Atlantic hurricane season, a 25% chance of a near-normal season and only a 5% chance of an above-normal season. NOAA forecasters expect seven to 12 named storms, including three to six hurricanes, two or fewer of them major.

The Energy Information Administration has said a relatively mild hurricane season this year would result in an estimated 30 Bcf of natural gas production in the Gulf of Mexico shut in at some point (see Daily GPI, June 11).

There were 14 named storms last year, but only two of them became hurricanes, and none reached major hurricane status. Late in the hurricane season, Tropical Storm Karen forced gas and oil operations to be shut-in and dozens of platforms to be evacuated, but the storm weakened before doing any major damage (see Daily GPI, Oct. 7, 2013).

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