A higher likelihood of a near-normal or above-normal Atlantic hurricane season is expected with 70% odds for 12 to 17 named storms while the odds for a below-normal season are now at just 15%, according to the updated 2016 Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
"The season is still expected to be the most active since 2012," NOAA said in the update to their initial forecast issued in May.
Within the 70% chance of 12 to 17 named storms, NOAA expects five to eight will become hurricanes, including two to four major hurricanes. The initial outlook called for 10 to 16 named storms, four to eight hurricanes and one to four major hurricanes. The seasonal averages are 12 named storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes.
"We’ve raised the numbers because some conditions now in place are indicative of a more active hurricane season, such as El Niño ending, weaker vertical wind shear and weaker trade winds over the central tropical Atlantic, and a stronger west African monsoon," according to Gerry Bell, Ph.D., lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. "However, less conducive ocean temperature patterns in both the Atlantic and eastern subtropical North Pacific, combined with stronger wind shear and sinking motion in the atmosphere over the Caribbean Sea, are expected to prevent the season from becoming extremely active."
With CPC now forecasting a weak La Niña, if it develops (click here), Bell said that will have "little impact on the hurricane season."
As of August 11, there have been five named storms in 2016, including two hurricanes (Alex and Earl). Four made landfall: Bonnie (in South Carolina), Colin (in western Florida), Danielle (in eastern Mexico), and Earl (in Belize and Mexico).
Comments: The forecast for a more-active hurricane season than has been seen since 2012 could increase the potential for impacts to U.S. Gulf oil operations though the updated outlook does not offer any indication on location for the named storms or hurricanes for the remainder of the season. That, of course, will be key for whether the situation will result in potential disruptions."