Forecasters expect fewer hurricanes due to cooler Atlantic in 2018


The Colorado State University tropical weather forecasting team led by Phil Klotzbach has reduced its forecast for 2018 Atlantic hurricane season activity, citing “much colder than normal” sea surface temperatures as the reason for expecting fewer named storms and hurricanes this year.

hurricane-maria-2017-satelliteThe Colorado State forecasting team had updated their forecast for the 2018 hurricane season to 14 named storms, 6 hurricanes and 2 major hurricanes at the end of May update.

But since then the anomalously cooler tropical Atlantic has come into focus, with Klotzbach himself saying that “Prospects for a second straight busy hurricane season have diminished markedly” as a result of the cooler than normal seas.

Now, the team has lowered its forecast for hurricane activity considerably, calling for 11 named storms, 4 hurricanes and just 1 major hurricane in their July forecast update.

Given there has already been one named storm in Alberto this season already, that means just 10 more named tropical storms are forecast to form in the Atlantic, Caribbean or Gulf of Mexico for the rest of this year.

Forecasts have been declining lately as updates come through, perhaps causing some in insurance and reinsurance to breathe a sigh of relief, however it only takes one hurricane landfall to bring significant losses to the sector.

The forecasters explained, “We have decreased our forecast and now believe that 2018 will have below-average activity. The tropical and subtropical Atlantic is currently much colder than normal, and the odds of a weak El Niño developing in the next several months have increased.”

El Nino is a considerable factor in the forecasts for later in the hurricane season now, with many meteorologists anticipating a weak El Nino forming around October or November. El Nino conditions can hold back hurricane activity in the Atlantic basin.

However the cooler seas mean storms are starved of the warm surface temperatures they need for fuel, which holds back their ability to form thunder clouds that are a key part of tropical storm formation.

The reduced forecast activity levels are also joined by lower chances of landfall, according to the forecasters.

“With the decrease in our forecast, the probability for major hurricanes making landfall along the United States coastline and in the Caribbean has decreased as well,” the team explained.

Once this updated and reduced Colorado State forecast is added to the list of forecasters we track, the Artemis average forecast has dropped slightly, from 13 named storms, 6 hurricanes and 3 major hurricanes, to a new Artemis average forecast for 12 named storms, 6 hurricanes and 2 major hurricanes.

While the forecast for tropical storm and hurricane activity levels in the Atlantic have diminished, storm numbers alone do not really matter as it is the intensity of any storms that form, as well as where they are steered towards that drives the potential for insurance, reinsurance and ILS or catastrophe bond market losses.

Keep track of our 2018 Atlantic Hurricane Season page where we will update the forecast numbers over the coming months and then track every storm of the season.

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