The U.S. National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has released its forecast for the 2017 Atlantic tropical storm and hurricane season, saying that factors lead it to predict an above average level of activity for the season.
NOAA is the second forecaster to opt for an above average forecast for this hurricane season, after the Weather Company which released its forecast earlier this week.
The NOAA forecasts a 45% chance that season hurricane activity will be above average, a 35% chance that activity will be near-normal and just a 20% chance of a below normal season.
The early season hurricane forecasts were calling for a below average season, as El Nino was seen as a prospect for during peak season. But now the forecasters are all erring towards higher activity, which means insurance, reinsurance, ILS and catastrophe bond interests need to have all eyes on the tropics from the June 1st season start.
The forecast calls for between 11 and 17 named tropical storms to form, with between 5 to 9 becoming hurricanes, and 2 to 4 becoming major hurricanes of Category 3 or stronger.
Adding this into our tracked forecaster mix gives us an Artemis average forecast for the 2017 hurricane season of 11.8 named storms, 5.3 hurricanes and 2.4 major hurricanes.
“The outlook reflects our expectation of a weak or non-existent El Nino, near- or above-average sea-surface temperatures across the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, and average or weaker-than-average vertical wind shear in that same region,” commented Gerry Bell, Ph.D., lead seasonal hurricane forecaster with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.
NOAA explains that a strong El Nino and wind shear would typically slow or suppress the development of Atlantic hurricanes, so the conditions expected suggest more hurricane activity in 2017.
Additionally, NOAA also notes the warmer sea surface temperatures, which can fuel hurricane development and intensity as they move across the ocean. However, NOAA highlights considerable uncertainty in the climate models, which it says is reflected in the probabilities for an above-normal and near-normal season being very close.
“NOAA’s broad range of expertise and resources support the nation with strong science and service before, during and after each storm to protect lives and property and enhance the national economy as we continue building a Weather-Ready Nation,” explained Ben Friedman, acting NOAA administrator. “From our expert modelers to our dedicated forecasters and brave crews of our hurricane hunters, we’ll be here to warn the nation every step of the way this hurricane season.”
An above average U.S. hurricane season will not be seen as good news for the insurance and reinsurance markets, although some may secretly yearn for a major loss in the hopes of turning rates.
However, the threat to lives and livelihoods is a greater concern for most and it is to be hoped that no matter how active the Atlantic hurricane season is, storms do not intensify and landfall in highly populated areas.
NOAA also issued its seasonal hurricane outlook for the eastern Pacific and central Pacific hurricane basins, forecasting an 80% chance of a near- or above-normal season in each region.
The eastern Pacific forecast calls for a 70% chance of 14 to 20 named storms forming, with 6 to 11 becoming hurricanes, and 3 to 7 major hurricanes. The central Pacific forecast suggests a 70% chance of 5 to 8 tropical cyclones, which includes tropical depressions, tropical storms and hurricanes.
You can track the 2017 Atlantic tropical storm and hurricane season with Artemis as it develops. We’ll update you as more forecasts emerge.
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