This NOAA geocolor image from GOES-16 shows Hurricane Katia (l) Hurricane Irma (m) and Hurricane Jose (r) in the Atlantic Ocean on September 7, 2017.
TAMPA (FOX 13) - Researchers at Colorado State University have issued their 35th annual forecast for hurricane season, and it may not be quite what coastal residents want to hear. The team is calling for a "slightly above average” Atlantic storm season in 2018.
Specifically, the team expects 14 named storms, including seven hurricanes – three of them major hurricanes. The researchers cited two main factors:
- Low likelihood of a significant El Nino condition, which tends to increase upper-level winds that are hostile to hurricane development.
- Warmer waters in the western Atlantic that could fuel hurricanes, especially early in the season.
So far, the team says the 2018 hurricane season is exhibiting characteristics similar to 1960, 1967, 1996, 2006, and 2011.
“The years 1960, 1967 and 2006 had near-average Atlantic hurricane activity, while 1996 and 2011 were both above-normal hurricane seasons,” said Phil Klotzbach, lead author of the CSU report.
The assessment is meant to be an initial forecast only; the team will update their predictions later in the year.
In 2017, hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria flooded and pummeled parts of the United States and the Caribbean. Last year at this time, the CSU team was predicting a “slightly below average” season, which is why they always caution that “it only takes one storm” to make any season a bad one, if it hits where you live.
“Those are the numbers they’re expecting,” added FOX 13 meteorologist Jim Weber. “It doesn’t tell you anything about where these will end up going. We’ll hope for the best, but certainly prepare for the worst.”
The 2018 Atlantic Hurricane Season runs from June 1 to Nov. 30, and this year includes the names: Alberto, Beryl, Chris, Debby, Ernesto, Florence, Gordon, Helene, Isaac, Joyce, Kirk, Leslie, Michael, Nadine, Oscar, Patty, Rafael, Sara, Tony, Valerie, and William.