Hurricane season forecasts for the Atlantic basin have risen again, as two of the main tropical weather teams maintain and increase their predictions that the 2017 Atlantic tropical storm and hurricane season will see above average levels of activity, just as tropical storm Franklin threatens Mexico.
The Atlantic hurricane season has now witnessed six tropical storm formations, thanks to the formation of tropical storm Franklin in the western Caribbean yesterday. But so far the season has been benign, with no impacts so far that could trouble reinsurance, ILS and catastrophe bond positions.
Tropical storm Franklin is heading for Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, carrying sustained winds of around 60 mph (as of a 3pm UTC update from NOAA) and with some strengthening forecast before landfall. Tropical storm Franklin will then cross the Yucatan Peninsula, where rainfall is likely to be the biggest threat, before heading back into the Bay of Campeche where some restrengthening will be possible before a second landfall on the Mexican east coast.
Tropical storm Franklin has the potential to be the first hurricane of the season, as it will strengthen right up to landfall the National Hurricane Center expects.
Isolated rainfall totals of as much as 12 inches are possible as Franklin crosses the Yucatan and rain bands affect the Mexico coastline.
On the forecast side, the Colorado State team led by Phil Klotzbach have maintained their call for an above average 2017 hurricane season in their latest update.
The forecast from Colorado State has increased by 1 tropical storm, giving them a seasonal total forecast of 16 named tropical storms, 8 hurricanes and 3 major hurricanes.
Landfall probabilities forecast by the Colorado State team remain above average, suggesting a greater threat that a hurricane could strike the U.S. coastline than in recent years.
Klotzbach summarised the forecast update; “We have maintained our forecast for above-average Atlantic hurricane activity. ENSO- neutral conditions appear likely to persist, and most of the tropical and subtropical Atlantic is anomalously warm and is likely to remain so. The probability for major hurricanes making landfall along the United States coastline and in the Caribbean is above-normal due to the forecast for an above-average season.”
Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Risk has increased its forecast, which brings it more into line with others such as Colorado State.
Tropical Storm Risk’s previous forecast given in July was for 14 named tropical storms, 6 hurricanes and 3 major hurricanes during the 2017 Atlantic season.
That has now been increased to 17 named storms, 7 hurricanes and 3 major hurricanes.
The forecasts have increased dramatically as the expectation of an El Nino forming in the Pacific has diminished. Now, at best a weak El Nino is forecast which would typically suggest a higher level of Atlantic named storm activity, with greater chances of hurricane formation and landfalls.
Hence the forecasts have been upgraded accordingly, which now takes our Artemis average forecast for the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season to 14 named storms, 7 hurricanes and 3 major hurricanes.
Details of the forecasters we track can be seen below:
As ever, it is the threat of landfalling hurricanes that really concerns the reinsurance and insurance-linked securities (ILS) sector, with the U.S coastline the ground-zero for peak catastrophe exposure, the potential for major losses is greatest in that region.
However an active season does not necessarily translate into financial and reinsurance losses, it is the direction that any tropical storms and hurricanes take that will make reinsurance firms nervous and cat bond investors hold their breath.
So far the season has been benign, but we are now entering the accepted peak, when the threat to the U.S. coastline is considered at its height.
Tropical Storm Risks commentary on the potential for landfall could give cause for concern, with the forecaster saying that, “US landfalling hurricane activity is also forecast to be above norm due to favourable July steering winds.”
“It is 86% probable that the 2017 season will see activity which is either near-norm or above-norm. US landfalling hurricane activity is also forecast to be above-norm. July steering winds over the North Atlantic favour more hurricanes than normal being steered towards US shores in 2017,” the forecaster said.
So once again the reinsurance and ILS market would be advised to keep one eye on the tropics as storm season progresses. You can do see with our dedicated 2017 Atlantic hurricane season page.