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NOAA raises 2012 Atlantic hurricane season forecast


As the 2012 Atlantic tropical storm and hurricane season progresses the chances of storms forming and making landfall is rising, according to the latest forecast update from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Their latest forecast which was published at the end of last week raises the number of tropical storms they predict will form and also the amount of hurricanes. It’s not all bad though as the NOAA also forecast El Niño to return later in the season which could hinder storm formation.

The NOAA has increased their forecast for named storms to form in the Atlantic basin during the 2012 season from between 9 and 15 to between 12 and 17. Their forecast for the number of hurricanes to form has jumped from between 4 and 8 to between 5 and 8. Finally the NOAA forecast for major hurricane formation has risen from between 1 and 3 to between 2 and 3.

Not a huge jump, but at this stage of the season if their forecast is accurate it means we could see as many as 11 more named tropical storms in the Atlantic basin during this season. That could make it a long season for insurers, reinsurers and the catastrophe bond market who will be watching the Atlantic and any storm formation closely.

“We are increasing the likelihood of an above-normal season because storm-conducive wind patterns and warmer-than-normal sea surface temperatures are now in place in the Atlantic,” said Gerry Bell, Ph.D., lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at the Climate Prediction Center. “These conditions are linked to the ongoing high activity era for Atlantic hurricanes that began in 1995. Also, strong early-season activity is generally indicative of a more active season.”

However, the NOAA seasonal climate forecasters also announced last week that they foresee El Niño developing in August or September which could hinder tropical storm formation.

“El Niño is a competing factor, because it strengthens the vertical wind shear over the Atlantic, which suppresses storm development. However, we don’t expect El Niño’s influence until later in the season,” Bell said.

“We have a long way to go until the end of the season, and we shouldn’t let our guard down,” said Laura Furgione, acting director of NOAA’s National Weather Service.  “Hurricanes often bring dangerous inland flooding as we saw a year ago in the Northeast with Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee. Even people who live hundreds of miles from the coast need to remain vigilant through the remainder of the season,” Furgione added.

Remember you can keep up to date and follow the season as it develops on our 2012 Atlantic Storm Season page.

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