2016 hurricane season is here - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

2016 hurricane season is here

Predictions for the 2016 Hurricane season Predictions for the 2016 Hurricane season
Change in sea surface temperatures since 1901 Change in sea surface temperatures since 1901
The average peak of the annual hurricane season The average peak of the annual hurricane season
(WMC) -

June 1 is an important date in meteorology. It marks the first day of meteorological summer and the beginning of hurricane season. We'll talk more about what to expect for summer in another blog.

Today I want to focus on the hurricane season forecast. The Atlantic Ocean has been somewhat tranquil since 2012 when 19 storms formed with 10 reaching hurricane strength and 2 becoming major hurricanes. In comparison, the 2015 season had 11 storms, with 4 reaching hurricane strength and 2 becoming major hurricanes.  

This week, NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association) released it's prediction for the 2016 season. On average, there are 12 storms per season, with 6 reaching hurricane strength and 3 becoming category 3 (111-130 mph winds) or above. This year NOAA is predicting 10-16 named storms with 4-8 reaching hurricane strength and 1-4 reaching category 3 or above.  

Warmer waters in the Atlantic are the main reason for the expected increase in activity this year. The expectation of 1-4 storms reaching category 3 or above is still in the average range. With an increase in the number of storms, you would expect an increase in the number of stronger storms, but NOAA is forecasting an average number. That is due to the lower salinity of the Atlantic Ocean this year.  

Rapid glacial melting has increased the amount of fresh water mixing into the ocean, thus lowering the salinity. As a result, a less salty ocean produces weaker storms.

There is also another forecast for Atlantic storms, and this comes from the University of Colorado. For years this university has issued their own prediction with reasonable accuracy.  It was originally headed up by the late Dr. William Gray, and the research and forecast continues today under the direction of Phil Klotzbach. Their prediction for the year is along average lines with 13 named storms, 6 reaching hurricane strength, and 2 at category 3 or above.  

It will be interesting to see how this year plays out. Hurricane forecasting is no exact science and over the years, amended forecasts have come out from both groups in the middle of the season.

This year, the waters are warmer than in previous years and that is certainly a major catalyst in the formation of storms. Despite two storms having already formed this year, one in January, and another just last week, don't expect a sudden surge in activity just because the season has begun. It takes some time for the Atlantic to reach its peak heating and that usually occurs around the beginning of September.  

We'll certainly be watching and tracking any storms that develop and will keep you informed on the air and on the web.  Also keep in mind that the WMC Action News 5 Storm Tracker app has Tropical Storm Tracking capability along with Tropical Storm alerts. So if you're planning on a trip to the coast this summer it's the prefect thing to have to keep you informed. If you don't have the app then take a moment to download it to your smart phone or iPad.  It's FREE and is a great source of weather information at the beach or right here at home. Click here to download.

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