Met Office predicts slightly above-average Atlantic hurricane season

The Met Office is predicting that the most likely number of tropical storms to form in the Atlantic between June and November will be 14 according to its long-range Atlantic tropical storm forecast for 2016 released today.

There is a 70% chance that the number of storms will be in the range 10 to 18. This represents slightly above-normal activity relative to the 1980–2010 average of 12 tropical storms.

The forecast number of hurricanes — tropical storms with winds of at least 74 mph — is 8 (70% range 6 to 10); the average number of hurricanes is 6.

The forecast Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) index — a measure of the strength and duration of storms over the season — is 125 (70% range 77 to 173); the average ACE index is 104.

The North Atlantic hurricane season typically runs from June to November, but has already seen one hurricane (Alex) in January 2016. Alex was the first Atlantic hurricane to form in the month of January since 1938.


Hurricane Alex at 1300 UTC on 14 January 2016 in the eastern Atlantic.            Credit: NASA Earth Observatory

The evolution of the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) over the next few months will play a large part in the North Atlantic hurricane season.

The last year has seen one of the strongest El Niño events on record in the tropical Eastern Pacific, but this has now substantially weakened.

Prediction systems from forecast centres around the world suggest that this event will soon terminate, with many transitioning to La Niña conditions by the peak of the hurricane season.

Joanne Camp, climate scientist at the Met Office, said: “El Niño conditions in the Pacific can hinder the development of tropical storms in the Atlantic whereas La Niña conditions can enhance tropical storm activity, so how these conditions develop will be important for the storm season ahead.”

The tropical storm forecast is produced using the Met Office’s seasonal forecast system, GloSea5.

For regular updates on tropical cyclones worldwide follow @metofficestorms on Twitter.

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