ROANOKE, Va. – It was only a few weeks ago when experts at Colorado State University issued their initial forecast for the upcoming Atlantic hurricane season. As they do every year, North Carolina State University (my alma mater) issued their outlook too.
Their forecasts are rather similar to each other which, in the name of consistency, is a good thing. Both universities' teams are calling for a near-average hurricane season, which officially starts on June 1.
Regardless of below average, average or above average, all it takes is one storm to make it a significant season for some places.
One factor that has been mentioned by both groups is the forecast El Niño this coming summer.
The El Niño refers to warmer than average ocean waters in the Pacific ocean, off the west coast of South America. This can create a more active storm track across the southern U.S., which can actually limit tropical development in the Caribbean or Gulf of Mexico.
A more active storm track implies more wind shear. Wind shear tends to weaken or essentially kill tropical systems.
If these forecasts wind up being correct, we would get to anywhere from Melissa to Pablo on this tropical season's list of names.
The National Hurricane Center is monitoring an area of low pressure off the East Coast of the U.S., but it only has a low chance of turning into a named storm.
NOAA should have their forecast for the upcoming hurricane season published within the next few weeks.