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NOAA lowers its 2014 Atlantic hurricane season forecast


The U.S. NOAA has released its latest update for its forecast for the 2014 Atlantic Hurricane Season. The forecast from the NOAA now calls for an even greater likelihood of a below normal season, with less storms expected to form and less major hurricanes.

Just earlier this week another forecaster Tropical Storm Risk (TSR), the academic initiative which partners with re/insurance industry and science to provide tropical weather forecasts, increased its forecast to call for one more hurricane to form during the 2014 season. Other forecasters, such as the Colorado State University, have not decreased their forecast either.

The NOAA has lowered both its prospects for the season to be near average as well as the actual number of storms it is calling for, in the updated forecast. Its previous forecast called for 8 to 13 named storms, 3 to 6 hurricanes and 1 to 2 major hurricanes during the 2014 season.

The update this week changes that to 7 to 12 named storms, still 3 to 6 hurricanes but now 0 to 2 major hurricanes, so a less active and impactful year if that is how the season pans out.

In terms of the chances of this being an active season, the previous forecast from the NOAA said there was a 50% chance of a below average season, a 40% chance of a near-normal season and a 10% chance of an above normal season.

The update changes this to a 70% chance of a below average season, a 25% chance of a near-normal season and just a 5% chance of an above-normal season, so again downgrades the forecast intensity for the season.

“We are 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,” commented Gerry Bell, Ph.D., lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. “Nonetheless, tropical storms and hurricanes can strike the U.S. during below-normal seasons, as we have already seen this year when Arthur made landfall in North Carolina as a category-2 hurricane. We urge everyone to remain prepared and be on alert throughout the season.”

The NOAA cites the following factors in its decision to downgrade the seasonal Atlantic hurricane forecast:

  • Overall atmospheric conditions are not favorable for storm development. This includes strong vertical wind shear, a weaker West African monsoon, and the combination of increased atmospheric stability and sinking motion. These conditions mean fewer tropical systems are spawned off the African coast, and those that do form are less likely to become hurricanes. These conditions are stronger than originally predicted in May and are expected to last mid-August through October, the peak months of the hurricane season;
  • Overall oceanic conditions are not favorable for storm development. This includes below-average temperatures across the Tropical Atlantic, which are exceptionally cool relative to the remainder of the global Tropics. This cooling is even stronger than models predicted in May and is expected to persist through the hurricane season; and
  • El Niño is still likely to develop and to suppress storm development by increasing vertical wind shear, stability and sinking motion in the atmosphere.

It is perhaps a little surprising to see two forecasters updates released in the same week going in opposite directions, one calling for a more active season, the other less. We’ll have to wait to see how the rest of the season develops before we can make any judgement as to who has the most accurate forecasts in 2014.

Keep up to date as the U.S. and Atlantic hurricane season develops. Visit and bookmark our 2014 Atlantic Hurricane Season page.

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