Hurricane Season Begins in Less Than A Month

The 2016 Atlantic Hurricane Season is officially open for business on June 1.  The 2016 season has actually already seen its first Hurricane.  In January Hurricane Alex developed from a non-tropical low and impacted the Azores Islands in the northeast Atlantic.  Alex is a historically rare hurricane as the month of January has featured only 5 tropical cyclones in the last 75+ years.  The last time a hurricane formed in January was 1938 (in 1955 Hurricane Alice formed on New Years Eve and continued into January).
Alex Lamers tweet, Eric Blake info
The truth is this has no impact on the 2016 season other than the fact that there will be at least 1 more named storm and hurricane than anyone thought.  Here is a summary of the seasonal outlooks from the major players. (NOAA has yet to release its outlook as of this post)
Hurricane forecasts
The average of all forecasts including the historical average is 13 total storms, 7 Hurricanes and 3 major hurricanes.  Taking away Alex we are looking a 12, 6, and 3.   While this is a far cry from the active seasons from 1995-2012 it is in line with some of the historical seasons following a strong El Nino.  Historically we can look at 1958, 1966, 1973, 1983, 1988 and 1998 for some guidance.  Note ACE is Accumulated Cyclone Energy which tries measures the amount of energy a given cyclone produces.  For more see here
Analogs for 2016 Atlantic Hurricane Season
So this isn't all that helpful given 1973 and especially 1983.  In both 1973 and 1983 the Atlantic was in its full blown negative or cold phase.  The Atlantic is trending that way now but its not quite there yet.  By the same measure 1998 was in the beginning of the Atlantic active era. Here is the current global sea surface temperature anomalies
NOAA/OSPO Sea surface temperature anomalies 5.2.2016
A few things stand out here.  First the blues appearing along the equator look to be the beginning of a La Nina event.  Second the tropical Atlantic is warm but the North Atlantic is cold.  It is important to remember that ocean currents in the Eastern Atlantic come from the North.  In the Western Atlantic they come from the south.  So it stands to reason that the tropical Atlantic will cool off somewhat this summer.  The La Nina is important because it would allow for favorable conditions in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico due to increased upward motion (cloud growth).  One climate model is bullish on La Nina
CFS v2 average of last 30 runs SSTA for August (Image Weatherbell)
If this verifies one has to like the chances of an above average Hurricane/Major hurricane/ACE forecast.  I find predicting landfall to be difficult if not impossible but I would favor the Gulf from Corpus Christi to the Florida Keys as my main areas to watch.   But as always it only takes 1 storm to define a season.  I'm thinking 12 storms 7 Hurricanes 3 Major Hurricanes with an ACE of around 115.  For good measure I think a major hurricane hits the Gulf Coast ending the 11 year major hurricane drought.

-Zack Green



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