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2016 hurricane season may see complicating factors

We’ve been blessed the last several years, but co-ops always have an eye on the tropics during hurricane season. The 2016 season officially began June 1 and ends Nov. 30.

The Coastal Weather Research Center (CWRC) anticipates a near-normal to slightly above-normal season in terms of overall Atlantic Ocean basin tropical activity. The 30-year averages for Atlantic tropical activity are about 12 named storms, 6 hurricanes, and 2-3 major hurricanes.

The El Niño, which somewhat reduced Atlantic tropical development in 2015 (and dramatically so over the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico) has been steadily weakening since early spring, and more recent observations show signs of a developing La Niña pattern, which historically has allowed enhanced development of Atlantic tropical cyclones, particularly in the Caribbean Sea and southern Gulf of Mexico.

However, there are some potential complicating factors for the 2016 hurricane season. While the likely-developing La Niña may reduce wind shear to the south, there are signs that the typical reduction in wind shear across the northern Gulf of Mexico may not be quite as significant this year. Additionally, while water temperatures immediately off the East Coast of the United States are warmer than normal, likely providing a more favorable environment for tropical cyclones in that area, the sea surface temperatures in the northeastern Atlantic Ocean are much colder than usual, which may strengthen the trade winds in the tropical eastern Atlantic and thus have the effect of somewhat reducing tropical activity there (i.e., reducing the potential for so-called “long-track” or “Cape Verde”-type storms).

But it is impossible to make any advanced predictions of where these potential systems may go, where they may potentially make landfall (if any), and how strong they may be at landfall. Learn more at https://www.southalabama.edu/cwrc/cwis/cwhs/index.html