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2017's Atlantic Hurricane Season Predicted to Be "Above Average"

Many coastal cities are preparing for a particularly aggressive storm season.


Houston, TX -- (ReleaseWire) -- 06/21/2017 --According to the official forecast released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), this year is projected to bring an above average hurricane season in the Atlantic. The NOAA's May 25th report cited warmer sea surface temperatures, an unusually weak or non-existent El Nino and below-average vertical wind shear as the causes behind the predicted increase in hurricane activities. In total, the NOAA believes that between 11 and 17 named storms are possible during the season that began June 1st, with five to nine becoming hurricanes and two to four developing into major hurricanes.

So far, the 2017 hurricane season is off to an unusually early start. In April, the north-central Atlantic experienced Tropical Storm Arlene. Though brief, Tropical Storm Arlene marks only the second time on record that a named storm occurred in the month of April. If the NOAA's predictions are correct, this year's hurricane season could signal the end of a record-breaking drought in major hurricane landfalls. A major hurricane has not made landfall in the United States since 2005's Hurricane Wilma; the odds of 11 years without such a landfall are approximately 1 in 2,000, according to a Colorado State University scientist.

However, not all experts agree on this year's hurricane forecast. Colorado State University puts out similar predictions each year, and the conclusion of Colorado State's hurricane researchers differs from that of the NOAA. After releasing an initial prediction in early April that this hurricane season would see "slightly below-average activity," Colorado State forecasters amended their projections on June 1 to call for a "near-average" season, with 14 named storms and six hurricanes, two of which are predicted to be major.

The difference between NOAA and Colorado State's forecasts appears to come down to differing conclusions regarding El Nino and sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic. In contrast with the NOAA, Colorado State researchers believe that a "weak to moderate" El Nino could emerge by the height of the hurricane season, and they assert that waters in the tropical Atlantic are actually cooler than normal right now, leading to greater atmospheric stability that impedes storm development.

In any case, the potential that this year will see more hurricane activity than normal has some nervous; after all, this year marks the 25th anniversary of Hurricane Andrew's landfall, which devastated the Florida coast. Acting NOAA administrator Ben Friedman notes that in the face of an above-average hurricane season, readiness is key: "We cannot stop hurricanes, but...we can prepare for them."

Due to the propensity of power outages following a hurricane or tropical storm, many people are choosing to prepare by installing standby generators in their homes and businesses.

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The Gulf Coast region, particularly Texas and Louisiana coastal areas, have been already been issued a tropical storm warning, thanks to Tropical Storm Cindy, which is expected to make landfall at some point on Wednesday and bring with it heavy winds and flooding.