With substantial focus on El Niño over the winter months, and more recently La Niña, should Floridians be anticipating a shift in this year’s hurricane season? Every year, the Atlantic hurricane season lasts from June 1 until November 30, but as of right now, forecasters cannot seem to agree upon whether the weather patterns from recent months will impact the probability of hurricane formation in a manner that is anomalous from other recent years. In short, a recent report from The Weather Channel indicated that the “2016 Atlantic hurricane season is expected to be the most active since 2012,” while another recent article in USA Today indicated that “top meteorologists from Colorado State University forecast a near-average Atlantic hurricane season this year.”
Should these varying reports alter how we plan for this year’s hurricane season and potential hurricane damage? Or should Florida residents take the same precautions regardless of the number of storms anticipated during the 2016 hurricane season?
Predicting the Number of Named Storms in 2016
According to The Weather Channel article, between June 1, 2016 and November 30, 2016, we will see “a total of 14 named storms, eight hurricanes and three major hurricanes.” As that article emphasizes, that number is bigger than the historical average, which is 12 named storms per hurricane season (including six hurricanes and three major hurricanes). What constitutes a major hurricane? Typically when meteorologists refer to a major hurricane, they mean a storm that is listed as a Category 3 or higher.
The article from The Weather Channel actually refers to the Colorado State University forecast, noting that it has predicted more storms than did experts at CSU. Given that the Colorado State University forecast was made last April, the meteorologists at The Weather Channel intimate that they may be making a more recent prediction.
Understanding the Impact of El Niño
This year’s El Niño brought many severe storms to Florida, including seemingly unprecedented tornadoes. In addition, some commentators cite El Niño as the cause of the rare January storm, Hurricane Alex, which did damage to the Azores. But would the El Niño really be to blame for storms that continue into the summer months?
According to the USA Today article, El Niño “tends to suppress Atlantic hurricane activity,” as does colder water in the North Atlantic Ocean, which experts have noted recently. At the same time however, El Niño is growing weaker, which could mean that more storms will develop. And currently, according to a report from KQED Science, La Niña is “the next weather phenomenon” for which we should be on the lookout. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Weather Administration (NOAA) predicted a 70 percent chance of a La Niña weather phenomenon by the end of 2016. What is La Niña? The NOAA explains, in a fact sheet, that it is “characterized by unusually cold ocean temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific, compared to El Niño, which is characterized by unusually warm ocean temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific.” What kind of impact can La Niña have? As the NOAA explains, it tends to have the opposite effects of El Niño. As such, this weather phenomenon could potentially result in a stronger storm season.
Regardless of the hurricane season predictions, Florida residents should be prepared. If you need to file a hurricane damage claim, an experienced hurricane damage lawyer in West Central Florida can assist you. Contact the Valrico Law Group today.