NOAA sees 40% chance of above-normal central Pacific hurricane season


The U.S. National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has predicted a 40% chance that the 2018 hurricane season in the central Pacific sees above-normal levels of activity, with the chance of an El Nino forming one factor that could result in more storms during the year.

The Pacific hurricane season runs from June 1st to November 30th, just like the Atlantic one, but typically features fewer storms across a normal season.

NOAA says that for 2018 there is a 40% chance of an above-normal season, a 40% chance of a near-normal season and a 20% chance of a below-normal season occurring.

For the whole central Pacific hurricane season, NOAA predicts between three and six tropical cyclones forming, which includes tropical depressions, named tropical storms and hurricanes.

During a near-normal season it would be expected that three to five tropical cyclones would form, while an above-normal season has six or more tropical cyclones.

El Nino is a factor and with the majority of forecasts suggesting neutral ENSO conditions, or perhaps a weak El Nino by late in the hurricane season, the transition is sure to keep forecasters guessing this year.

“This outlook reflects the forecast for ENSO neutral conditions, with a possible transition to a weak El Nino during the hurricane season. Also, ocean temperatures in the main hurricane formation region are expected to remain above-average, and vertical wind shear is predicted to be near- or weaker-than-average,” explained Gerry Bell, Ph.D., NOAA’s lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at the Climate Prediction Center.

El Nino typically decreases vertical wind shear over the tropical central Pacific, which can mean more and stronger tropical cyclones, while also favoring more westward-tracking storms from the eastern Pacific into the central Pacific.

“If El Nino develops, the activity could be near the higher end of the predicted range,” Bell said.

The central Pacific hurricane season largely focuses on Hawaii and the chances of hurricane landfall on its islands, which while a much smaller population center than mainland U.S. hurricane targets still has the potential to experience major storms that could cause significant insurance and reinsurance losses.

“It is very important to remember that it only takes one landfalling tropical cyclone to bring major impacts to the State of Hawaii,” commented Chris Brenchley, director of NOAA’s Central Pacific Hurricane Center.

Here at Artemis we only track the Atlantic hurricane season as it develops, but we will cover any hurricanes in other global basins that threaten significant insurance or reinsurance losses.

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