NOAA predicts less-active 2014 hurricane season

By Meteorologist Mike Skurko

NOAA predicts a slightly less-active 2014 Atlantic hurricane season, with the following number of named storms, hurricanes, and major hurricanes expected to develop (note, this does not mean “make landfall”):

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NOAA cited two main factors in their below-average forecast for this season: the return of El Nino in the Pacific and cooler ocean waters in the Atlantic.  Here is a brief breakdown of why each of those factors would prohibit the development of many hurricanes.

El Nino

Many long-range guidance expects El Nino to develop this summer.  In fact, there are signs it is already brewing.  Among El Nino’s global weather impacts, it has been linked to stronger wind shear in the Atlantic. Wind shear is the differences in wind speed and direction with height. Strong wind shear can effectively tear apart the top of developing storms before they can mature into tropical systems. Therefore, the presence of El Nino, and more wind shear, is less favorable for hurricane development.

Secondly, hurricanes begin as weak storm systems/disturbances that move off the African continent and enter the tropical Atlantic waters, as shown below.  These systems are carried by the tropical trade winds.  El Nino has also been linked to stronger trade winds in this region, which is also unfavorable for hurricane development.
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Cooler Atlantic waters
Second, something that most people are familiar with, hurricanes need warm waters to grow and sustain themselves.  NOAA forecasters expect sea-surface temperatures to be cooler than normal, which would also be unfavorable for an active hurricane season.  Waters above 80 degrees Fahrenheit are best for hurricane development, which you can see on the graphic below means that hurricanes do not frequently make it northward into New England (despite Irene and Sandy over the last few years).
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The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30, and typically peaks from mid-August to mid-September.

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