Forecasters raise 2012 Atlantic hurricane season prediction

Posted at 5:05 PM, Aug 13, 2012
and last updated 2012-08-13 17:08:15-04

This year’s Atlantic hurricane season is far from over.  While this season got off to a busy start, with six named storms already, the next few months could be even busier according to NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.  Forecasters are now calling for a near-or-above normal Atlantic season.

The updated projection looks like this:

12 to 17 named storms (with winds of 39 mph or higher)

5 to 8 hurricanes (with winds of 74 mph or higher)

2 to 3 could be major hurricanes (Category 3 or higher)

This new outlook includes tropical storms Alberto, Beryl, Debbie, and Florence as well as hurricanes Chris and Ernesto – storms that have already formed this season.  These numbers are higher than predictions made in May.  That outlook predicted 9 to 15 named storms, 4 to 8 hurricanes, and 1 to 3 major hurricanes.

Forecasters say wind patterns and warmer-than-normal ocean temperatures now in place in the Atlantic could make storms more conducive for development – just a couple of reasons why the outlook was changed.  NOAA forecasters also say strong early season activity often indicates a more active season.

There is one caveat to this new hurricane season outlook.  Forecasters expect El Nino to develop sometime this month or in September.  El Nino typically increases vertical wind shear over the Atlantic Ocean, which tends to tear storms apart.  However, forecasters don’t expect to see El Nino’s influence until later this season.

An average hurricane season produces 12 named storms, six hurricanes, and three major hurricanes.  We will keep you updated on any developments in the tropics from the Live VIPIR Forecast Center.