Hurricane season nears: El Nino not likely to be a factor but warm Atlantic could be

We are closing in on the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season and thus far, it look as though El Nino will not do much to limit activity. On the other hand, the tropical Atlantic has warmed up quite a bit since early spring and this might be the tipping point that gets us in to an active season once again. I cover this and more in my latest video discussion posted below:

M. Sudduth May 22, 2017

Share

If El Niño is coming, it will likely be too little, too late

Mid-March ENSO forecast showing a high probability of El Nino conditions setting in by the summer months.

Mid-March ENSO forecast showing a high probability of El Nino conditions setting in by the summer months. Click for full size image.

There was a lot of talk about the resurgence of El Niño just a couple of months ago and it looked as though we were in fact heading in that direction. This would have been unusual to see since we just had a substantial El Niño or warm ENSO event back in 2015.

The presence of El Niño is also a known detriment to Atlantic hurricane activity, especially in the deep tropics. As such, most of the reliable seasonal forecast agencies were calling for less activity than we saw in 2016.

So where do we stand now? As we approach mid-May, the odds of El Niño are going down. There are some mechanisms in place to get it started but so far, it’s stalling out of the gate.

Latest subsruface anomaly chart showing only limited warming overall and nothing significant at the surface of the tropical Pacific

Latest subsurface anomaly chart showing only limited warming overall and nothing significant at the surface of the tropical Pacific. Click for full size image.

Take a look at the latest subsurface anomaly chart and you’ll see what I mean. The top of the chart is the surface of the tropical Pacific while the bottom represents more than 400 meters of depth. While there is a large “blob” of positive anomalies showing up, it is no where near as substantial as what we saw in 2015. Furthermore, it is not strengthening and being reinforced by more warm water from the western Pacific. Instead, the tropical Pacific as a whole is in a neutral state – neither too warm nor too cold right now.

The latest climate models have backed off quite a bit in recent weeks with regards to warming of the tropical Pacific. Just a month ago, it appeared that we had a near 70% chance of seeing El Niño conditions by August/Sept/Oct – now that probability has dropped to 46% according to the latest update from the Climate Prediction Center. What happened? The easy answer is that spring is usually a difficult time for the climate models to resolve what will happen with the ocean/atmosphere state several months down the road. A more complicated answer lies in the fact that there are still many mysteries surrounding the evolution of ENSO or El Niño-Southern Oscillation as it is often referred to. Sometimes we get El Niño and sometimes we don’t and the reasons why are still unclear.

Mid-May climate models have backed off the chances of El Nino quite a bit.

May climate models have backed off the chances of El Nino quite a bit.

What is becoming increasingly clear, however, is the fact that for the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season, El Niño isn’t likely to be a factor. This puts a check mark in the enhancing column for seasonal activity but the absence of El Niño alone is no guarantee of a busy season. That being said, there are recent developments in the climate models for the summer months that suggest the Atlantic Basin could be more favorable than we have seen in quite some time.

As of today, much of the deep tropics between Africa and the Lesser Antilles are warmer than normal while the subtropical Atlantic has cooled dramatically. This would tend to focus lower pressures and more favorable conditions right where we’d expect it to be – the deep tropics. While this can change, it appears that we will begin the 2017 season with no El Niño and a warmer than normal tropical Atlantic. I think it is a safe bet that for those who issue seasonal forecasts, their numbers will go up in the coming weeks.

SST anomalies have gone up in the deep tropics in recent weeks, a sign of possible higher hurricane activity during the season ahead.

SST anomalies have gone up in the deep tropics in recent weeks, a sign of possible higher hurricane activity during the season ahead.

Numbers aside, it is important to note that no one can predict where whatever does form will end up, if anywhere at all. A season like 2010 had plenty of hurricane activity but not a single one crossed the U.S. coastline. On the other hand, a season like 1992 had one significant hurricane – just one. And as they say, that’s all it took. We live in very different times than we did 10-12 years ago and that is not just hyperbole, it’s true. The advent of social media, the rise of so-called “fake news” and other political distractions mean that it is literally up to you, on a very personal level, to learn all you can about your local vulnerability to hurricane impacts. We could have 2 hurricanes form this season or 12, no one knows for sure. What really matters is where they end up and if that is your backyard, you will be doing yourself and your family a favor by being ready.

I will have much more on the coming season during a special live broadcast via YouTube Live on Thursday, June 1 at 7pm ET. Until then, get ready, hurricane season is coming – just like it does every year around this time. No reason to ignore it or act like the sky is falling, we should be prepare the same year in and year out.

M. Sudduth 8:50 AM ET May 12

Share

Tropical storm Adrian forecast to become hurricane in SE Pacific

TS Adrian in the east Pacific - forecast is for a slow movement over the next five days with steady strengthening

TS Adrian in the east Pacific – forecast is for a slow movement over the next five days with steady strengthening

The east Pacific hurricane season has begun with the formation of TS Adrian south of the Central American coastline. It is forecast to become a hurricane over the next few days as it moves fairly slowly off to the northwest. For the time being, Adrian poses no threat to land areas and its slow movement means that there will be plenty of time to monitor how the steering pattern shapes up and thus what the eventual track may be.

Global models are in general agreement that Adrian will eventually turn more to the north and perhaps back to the northeast sometime next week. We will just have to wait and see how this plays out since it looks like a complicated pattern developing which will mean a slow movement. Interests along the Pacific side of Central America and southeast Mexico should be monitoring the progress of Adrian, especially since it is forecast to become a solid hurricane within the next few days.

Speaking of intensity, most of the guidance suggests that the storm will in fact become a hurricane. Curiously, the HWRF model shows very little strengthening while the global models are more robust. With plenty of warm water and fairly light upper level winds, Adrian is more than likely going to intensify but again, it will remain well off the coast and should not pose a direct threat to land for now.

I’ll have continuing posts regarding the future track and intensity forecasts for Adrian over the next several days.

M. Sudduth 8:30 AM ET May 10

Share

East Pacific hurricane season will begin a little early this year

Latest model plot showing the likely track of invest area 90-E in the eastern Pacific

Latest model plot showing the likely track of invest area 90-E in the eastern Pacific

Officially, the east Pacific hurricane season gets going on May 15. That’s the date on a calendar – Mother Nature often strays from such notions and this year will be no exception.

The NHC is monitoring an area of low pressure, known as invest area 90-E (the “E” is for east Pacific) well off the coast of Central America and southeast Mexico. It is forecast to go on to develop in to a tropical depression and will likely become the east Pacific’s first named storm: Adrian.

Fortunately, the model guidance suggests a track that would keep much of the inclement weather offshore with only minimal impacts, if any, being felt on land. It’s something to keep an eye on for sure but nothing to be too concerned with just yet.

Let it also serve as a reminder that hurricane season is nearing – not only for the east Pacific, but also for the Atlantic Basin. That being said, it is Hurricane Preparedness Week and I encourage you to visit the updated section of the NHC’s site to learn what you can about tropical storms and hurricanes. There’s always something new, so even if you’re an avid weather geek who thinks they know a lot, might as well brush up your knowledge base and check out the latest from the NHC here.

I’ll have more on invest 90-E later this afternoon during my video discussion which will be posted to YouTube and here.

M. Sudduth 8:55 AM ET May 9

Share

As hurricane season nears, odds of El Nino being a factor diminishing

Will El Nino be enough to affect Atlantic hurricane season? I highly doubt it and will show why in today’s video discussion. Plus – the east Pacific hurricane season officially begins in a week but we are watching invest area 90-E for likely development as the week progresses. A lot to go over, check it out!
M. Sudduth 5pm ET May 8
Share