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07.18.2019

Researchers at Colorado State University Update Forecast of Atlantic Seasonal Hurricane Activity

Dr. Phil Klotzbach - Colorado State University, Department of Atmospheric Science

Hurricane researchers at Colorado State University (CSU) updated their forecast of 2019 Atlantic seasonal hurricane activity on July 9thThe researchers have maintained their forecast for a near-average 2019 Atlantic hurricane season.    

At that time, the CSU Tropical Meteorology Project Team forecast an additional 13 named storms (Subtropical Storm Andrea formed in May) and 6 hurricanes.  This compares with the long-term average of 12 named storms and 6 hurricanes.  Of the 6 hurricanes that were predicted, 2 were forecast to reach major hurricane strength (Category 3-4-5 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, with winds of 111 mph or greater).  Atlantic basin Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE), an integrated metric that takes into account the frequency, intensity and duration of tropical storms and hurricanes, for the remainder of the season is predicted to be approximately 95 percent of its long-term average value. Since the time of the forecast release, Hurricane Barry has formed so an additional 12 named storms and 5 hurricanes are now anticipated.    

The probability for major hurricanes making landfall along the U.S. coastline and in the Caribbean remains near its long-term averageOn average, about 1/2 of all Atlantic hurricane seasons have a continental United States major hurricane landfall.   

For the 2019 season, there remains some uncertainty with the updated July forecast.  The odds of the currently-observed weak El Niño persisting during the peak of the 2019 Atlantic season have decreased slightly.  If El Niño were to continue from August through October, the pattern would tend to lead to more vertical wind shear in the Caribbean, extending into the tropical Atlantic; thus tearing apart hurricanes as they are trying to develop and intensify.  Tropical Atlantic sea surface temperatures are near their long-term average values and, consequently, are considered to be a relatively neutral factor.   

In mid-July, Hurricane Barry made landfall in south-central Louisiana as a Category 1 hurricane and quickly weakened to a tropical storm.   Hurricane Barry was a slow-moving storm and consequently brought heavy rainfall and some flooding to the central Gulf Coast.  It caused moderate damage in parts of south-central Louisiana, but fortunately produced only minor damage in major urban centers like Baton Rouge and New Orleans.  Thankfully, Hurricane Barry did not produce as much rainfall as was anticipated, which reduced the levels of observed damage.  Estimated monetary damages have yet to be released, but insured losses are likely to be small. 

As is the case with all hurricane seasons, coastal residents should be prepared as it only takes one hurricane making landfall near them to make it an active seasonResidents along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts need to be ready for every hurricane season.  

The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30.  2019 is the 37th year that the CSU hurricane research team has issued its Atlantic basin seasonal forecast.  CSU’s initial annual hurricane forecast was released in early April and was updated in early June and early July.  A final forecast will be released on August 5 

To access the July 9 forecast update:   

https://tropical.colostate.edu/media/sites/111/2019/07/2019-07.pdf  

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