Harlingen, Texas (KVEO)—It has been less than two weeks since Hurricane Hanna made landfall in the Rio Grande Valley.
And while the region is still recovering, hurricane experts from both National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Colorado State University have updated their outlooks for the Atlantic Basin Hurricane Season, this week, each calling for an “extremely active” season.
The already record breaking season, has seen nine named storms, including back to back category 1 hurricanes, Hanna and Isaias.
The NHC in statement released on Thursday said the season has the “potential to be one of the busiest on record.” Historically, only two named storms form by early August, with the ninth name storm not forming until October 4th.
“This is one of the most active seasonal forecasts that NOAA has produced in its 22-year history of hurricane outlooks,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross.
The updated outlook from NHC calls for 19 to 25 named storms (tropical storm strength or greater) with 7 to 11 of those storms becoming hurricanes. Of the storms expected to become hurricanes, 3 to 6 are forecasted to become major hurricanes. A major hurricane is a category 3 or higher strength storm.
In comparison, Colorado State University’s renown tropical meteorology program released a similar forecast on Wednesday. CSU researchers are calling for 24 named storms and 12 hurricanes, including 5 major hurricanes.
The last time we had a hurricane season similar to this forecast with in 2005. That year saw a record 28 named storms and 15 hurricanes, including category 5 storms: Emily, Katrina, Rita, and Wilma. Hurricane Emily made two landfalls. First as a category 4 on the Yucatán Peninsula, and days later as category 3 along the northeast gulf coast of Mexico. The storm brought tropical storm force winds and sparked 8 tornadoes across south Texas. Rainfall peak at 5.2 inches in Mercedes, Texas.
The expected increase in hurricane activity can traced in part to the current oceanic and atmospheric conditions. Those conditions include warmer than normal sea surface temperatures, reduced vertical wind shear, weaker tropical Atlantic trade winds, and an enhanced west African monsoon.
An additional factor is the possibility of a La Nina developing in the months ahead. A La Nina is when cooler than normal sea surface temperatures occur in the equatorial region of the eastern Pacific Ocean. One of the consequences of a La Nina formation is further weakening of wind shear over the Atlantic Basin, allowing for easier development of storms.
Of note, while the forecast does call for more hurricane development over the coming months, this is not a landfall forecast. Where these possible tropical cyclones make landfall is more dependent of short term weather patterns.