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El Nino less likely, Atlantic hurricane forecast rises, tropics awake


Forecasters are now doubting the arrival of El Niño conditions during the 2017 Atlantic Tropical Storm & Hurricane Season, which is causing the forecasts for hurricane activity to rise again. Meanwhile, the tropical season kicked off with the naming of tropical storm Bret yesterday, while another disturbance also threatens the Gulf Coast this week.

Hurricane forecasts have been steadily rising with each update from the main meteorology groups we track here at Artemis, resulting in an expectation for an average to in some cases slightly above average number of tropical storms and hurricanes to form in 2017.

The reinsurance and ILS fund sector have their eyes firmly on the tropical Atlantic at this time of year. With the June reinsurance renewals just completed, seeing a significant amount of hurricane exposed property catastrophe contracts signed, and the catastrophe bond market seeing record levels of activity, all eyes are rightly on the tropics.

Now, the Weather Company has upped its forecast, with the major contributing factor being the fact that El Nino is now not expected to occur.

Dr. Todd Crawford, chief meteorologist at The Weather Company, explained; “It has become clear that the anticipated El Nino event will likely not occur.”

Crawford also said that the “clear trends” that have been followed by meteorologists as the hurricane season approached, of a warming of Atlantic Ocean temperatures and reduced expectation that El Niño will occur, continue.

Additionally, Crawford highlighted that the data available from dynamical weather models are all suggesting an enhanced chance of activity this season, hence the Weather Company has increased its forecast again.

As has been seen in recent season forecasts, the Weather Company expects a greater chance of U.S. East Coast tropical storm or hurricane activity, while the Gulf should be a little below average, relative to the accepted norms.

The Weather Company has upped its forecast to 15 named tropical storms, 8 hurricanes and 3 major hurricanes for 2017. It’s previous forecast update was for 14, 7 and 3.

2017 hurricane season forecasts

This increases our Artemis average forecast of 2017 Atlantic tropical storm and hurricane activity up to 13 named storms, 6 hurricanes and 3 major hurricanes, across the forecasters we follow.

The tropics came alive in the last few days with two disturbances forming, one of which has now been named as tropical storm Bret. As of Wednesday morning, the second disturbance has been named tropical storm Cindy and has intensified to 60mph winds.

Tropical storm Bret is targeting the Leeward Islands and the northern tip of Venezuela, but with winds of only 40mph the main threat is expected to be rainfall from storm.

Tropical storm Bret tracking map and forecast path

Tropical storm Bret tracking map and forecast path

Additionally, another tropical disturbance is threatening the U.S. Gulf Coast. Currently named potential tropical cyclone three or invest 93L, this storm is tracking across the warm waters of the Gulf and is targeting a landfall around the Texas and Louisiana border on Thursday.

Tropical disturbance three, or Cindy, tracking map and forecast path

Tropical disturbance three (93L), or Cindy, tracking map and forecast path

This storm could become tropical storm Cindy before it reaches the Gulf coast, but it is not expected to intensify that much at this time. So tropical storm force winds are currently expected, with some forecast models calling for sustained winds as high as 50mph or so around landfall.

Update: As of Wednesday morning, the second disturbance has been named tropical storm Cindy and has intensified to 60mph winds.

Again, rainfall will be the threat from tropical disturbance three (or tropical storm Cindy), with the latest forecasts calling for total rain accumulations of 4 to 8 inches with isolated maximum amounts of 10 inches in some areas such as southeastern Louisiana, and more widely 2 to 6 inches along the Gulf coast and into the Florida panhandle.

A storm surge warning for 1 to 3 feet is also in effect for some areas of the tropical storm warning area. Also there is the chance of tornadoes along the storm track as the depression moves onshore.

So the tropics have come alive with one named storm in tropical storm Bret and the potential for Cindy to form in the coming day. This would take the number of tropical storms to three for the year, given the early and unseasonable Arlene.

Insurance and reinsurance firms, ILS fund managers and investors in catastrophe bonds or other insurance-linked securities, will be watching the tropical development with interest and trepidation, with the rising forecast numbers all pointing to the chance of at least an average level of activity this year.

The landfall of tropical disturbance three or perhaps Cindy could be a reminder, as the rainfall levels will be sufficient to create some level of insurance and perhaps reinsurance industry loss.

We’ll update you as the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season develops and our dedicated page on the 2017 hurricane season will be updated as new forecasts emerge and as storms form throughout the year.

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