Outlook for the hurricane season 2016

  • Joaquin, the strongest hurricane in 2016 over the Bahamas. Credit of the picture: National Aeronautics and Space Administration, LANCE/EOSDIS Rapid Response, captured on Terra satellite.

    This map shows the tracks of all tropical cyclones in the 2015 Atlantic hurricane season. Credit of the picutre: National Hurricane Center.

    Hurricane Alex at peak intensity and approaching the Azores on January 14, 2016. VIIRS image captured by NOAA’s Suomi NPP satellite.

  • Outlook for the hurricane season 2016
    10.04.2016 15:43

    The hurricane activity in the Atlantic in 2015 was below normal with only two major hurricanes. With El Niño weakening during this spring, what can we expect for this season?

    The 2015 Atlantic hurricane season was a slightly below average season. It had twelve tropical cyclones, eleven named storms, four hurricanes, and two major hurricanes. The two major hurricanes were Joaquin (category 4) with sustained winds of 155 mph and Danny (category 3) with 125 mph. The main reason for that was the strong El Niño. The warming of the sea surface in the Pacific helps develop a strong wind shear in the Atlantic that inhibits the development of hurricanes. You can check the forecast at this time last year here.

    Right now, El Niño is weakening in the Pacific and neutral conditions or La Niña are expected to develop later on in the season. Therefore, winds in the upper atmosphere over the Atlantic should abate this season, increasing the odds of more favourable conditions for hurricanes to form and evolve. However, some impacts of El Niño may remain, especially at the beginning of the season.

    The Colorado State University (CSU) uses the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation index (AMO) to stablish the long-term condition in the Atlantic basin. Active seasons occur when the AMO is positive and strong. However, over the last two years it has been well below normal. It is highly uncertain to forecast now how the AMO index is going to develop but it seems near equilibrium during this hurricane season.

    Therefore, based on these premises by the CSU the number of hurricanes for the 2016 season could be above average. There may be between 12 and 15 named storms, between 6 and 8 hurricanes and between 2-3 major hurricanes, although the earliest hurricane since 1978 formed in January and used the first name of the list for 2016, Alex. According to this forecast, Florida and the Caribbean have the best chance for a hurricane making landfall. It is always worth mentioning that despite the fact this sort of forecast has been improving over the years there is always a good deal of uncertainty and a regular check of the main websites is compulsory once the season starts the first of June. You can also keep up-to-date by this website and Meteogroup apps.

    By: Mario Cuellar