Forecasters Downgrade Predictions for 2014 Hurricane Season


Forecasters at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in the United States have raised the likelihood for a below-normal Atlantic hurricane season. The update, issued in August and posted on the NOAA website, “predicts a 70 percent chance of a below-normal season, a 25 percent chance of a near-normal season and only a five percent chance of an above-normal season. The probabilities in the initial outlook issued on May 22 were 50 percent, 40 percent and 10 percent, respectively.” According to the NOAA, there is a 70 percent chance of seven to twelve named storms, including three to six hurricanes, of which zero to two could become major hurricanes. The initial outlook in May predicted eight to thirteen named storms, three to six hurricanes and one to two major hurricanes. The revised predictions are based on the development of atmospheric and oceanic conditions that are likely to suppress cyclone formation and forecasters expect this to continue throughout the season. Providing further detail on its revised forecast, the NOAA states that inhibiting atmospheric conditions include “strong vertical wind shear, a weaker West African monsoon, and the combination of increased atmospheric stability and sinking motion. These conditions mean fewer tropical systems are spawned off the African coast, and those that do form are less likely to become hurricanes. These conditions are stronger than originally predicted in May and are expected to last mid-August through October, the peak months of the hurricane season.”

September 2, 2014 With regard to oceanic conditions, the NOAA explains that factors here include “below-average temperatures across the Tropical Atlantic, which are exceptionally cool relative to the remainder of the global Tropics. This cooling is even stronger than models predicted in May and is expected to persist through the hurricane season.” El Nino which refers to warmer than average sea-surface temperatures, was also flagged as an inhibiting factor. El Nino is still likely to develop according to forecasters and this is likely to “suppress storm development by increasing vertical wind shear, stability and sinking motion in the atmosphere.”
Professors Phillip J. Klotzbach and Wiilliam M. Gray at Colorado State University have also issued a revised forecast which continues to indicate a less active than normal Atlantic hurricane season that normal. Their initial forecast called for 10 named storms, four hurricanes and one Category 3 or higher hurricane while the revised forecast calls for nine named storms, three hurricanes and one Category 3 or higher hurricane. A third hurricane season outlook, this one by Weather Services International, has reduced the number of predicted storms to 10 named storms, five hurricanes and two major hurricanes, down from its previous forecast of 11 named storms, five hurricanes and two major hurricanes.
Despite the revised predictions, the Department of Disaster Management (DDM) continues to advise residents to be prepared. Information and Education Manager, Ms. Philomena Robertson said, “Forecasters have modified their predictions slightly downwards but the fact is we are still in the hurricane season. It only takes the impact of one storm to create a disaster. We therefore urge to remain alert and adhere to the advice provided by the DDM as it relates to hurricane preparedness.”
In messages delivered at the start of the hurricane season, both the Governor and the Premier called on residents to Be Smart, Reduce Risks and Be Prepared by taking the necessary measures to reduce vulnerability. The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30.