More hurricanes now forecast

courtesy: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA)

Dr. Phil Klotzbach and his team at Colorado State University have increased their Atlantic Hurricane Forecast to ABOVE normal. Here’s a look at the new numbers:

note we have had 4 storms this year

You can see that that named storms have gone up from 15 to 18 and of those storms 9 hurricanes will form and of those 9 hurricanes 4 will be major. If there is any good news it’s that the subtropical storm in January along with Arlene, Bret and Cindy all count toward the numbers, so we’ve already had 4 of the 18 storms. Still, the increase of 2 hurricanes and 1 major hurricane holds--we haven’t seen those yet.

What’s going on? Isn’t the current El Nino supposed to keep these storms from developing in the Caribbean and Gulf? Yes, but that might not be enough. The reason is that we’re seeing record warm Atlantic ocean water. Take a look at current sea surface temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean:


Let me put this in perspective: water temperatures of 26°C (approximately 80°F) are what we look for to fuel tropical storms and hurricanes. The warmer the water, the more likely we’ll get these cyclones and the more powerful they will become. The Gulf of Mexico right now is in the 30-31°C range which is approximately 86-88°! In 2005, the year we had 28 storms including Katrina and Rita, the warmest temperatures were 90°. And we’re almost there. Any low pressure systems over that water could develop quickly. Just as important, any storms that enter the gulf from the Caribbean or Atlantic could explode over that warm fuel.

Notice also that the scale to the right only goes to 32°C---we just never have water warmer than that. But we might this year.

If you’d like to read the one-page from Klotzbach’s team, it’s right here.

In the meantime, it’s the weekend and our showers today may be about it for the weekend and week ahead. Expect Heat Advisories back on the table Sunday or Monday. The July Fry is back.


Email me with comments and questions.

About the Authors:

KPRC 2's chief meteorologist with four decades of experience forecasting Houston's weather.