The 2016 Atlantic hurricane season forecast released Thursday from Colorado State University calls for the number of named storms and hurricanes to be near historical averages.
Climatologists expect a near average 2016 hurricane season, with 13 named storms, including six hurricanes, with two reaching major, Category 3 or greater, strength, climatologists with Colorado State University’s Tropical Meteorology Project predicted Thursday.
The forecast predicts a 50 percent chance of at least one major hurricane, Category 3 or greater, making landfall somewhere along the U.S. coastline, a 30 percent chance of it making landfall along the East Coast — including the Florida peninsula — and a 29 percent chance of one hitting the Gulf Coast.
The report also predicts a 57 percent chance of landfall for a tropical storm on the Gulf Coast, with a 42 percent chance of a storm being a Category 1 or 2 hurricane.
The team predicts that 2016 hurricane activity will be about 95 percent of the average season. By comparison, 2015’s hurricane activity was about 65 percent of the average season.
The researchers cite two competing factors for the forecast.
While El Niño is weakening and is likely to dissipate prior to this summer, the far North Atlantic is quite cold. The absence of El Niño should reduce the strong upper-level westerly winds that were present in the Caribbean and across portions of the tropical Atlantic last season. However, the cold far North Atlantic often generates atmospheric conditions associated with increased sinking motion and stable air across the tropical Atlantic.
The team bases its forecasts on over 60 years of historical data that include Atlantic sea surface temperatures, sea level pressures, vertical wind shear levels (the change in wind direction and speed with height in the atmosphere), El Niño (warming of waters in the central and eastern tropical Pacific), and other factors.
The CSU team will issue forecast updates on June 1, July 1 and August 3.
This is the 33rd year that the CSU hurricane research team has issued the Atlantic basin season hurricane forecast. William Gray, professor emeritus of atmospheric science, launched the report in 1984.