NOAA update on Atlantic hurricane season: Met office says it’s looking good for Atlantic Atlantic hurricane season ‘considerably weaker’ than a decade ago has seen a drop in the number of Atlantic hurricanes overall this year. Photograph: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
It could be the quietest and least active Atlantic hurricane season on record, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
A NOAA hurricane forecaster forecasted a below-average hurricane season, with 16 hurricanes, down from an average of 19. A likelihood of an above-average season has also been reduced to 45%, down from 60% just three weeks ago.
So far this year, 10 tropical storms have formed, six of which have strengthened into hurricanes. Of these, five hurricanes and two major hurricanes have come during the Atlantic hurricane season, which typically runs from 1 June to 31 November. Hurricane Ida, which devastated Puerto Rico, was the only major hurricane in the Atlantic in 2018.
Though some of these storms weakened to less than tropical storm strength, over the past week, hurricane Isaac and tropical storm Beryl have caused flooding in Puerto Rico and Florida, respectively. Irma, which struck Florida in September, caused severe flooding and damage across the state and across Florida’s Atlantic coast.
On 25 September, the US president, Donald Trump, tweeted: “Hurricane was just around the corner and now looks like it could be a Major storm. The Atlantic Ocean is getting very, very rough!”
It is looking less likely that the Atlantic could produce a major hurricane this year, the threshold for which is winds above 111mph. While NOAA predicts 14 to 20 major hurricanes with sustained winds of 111mph or higher, meteorologists at the Met Office in London believe this year will see a fall from eight major hurricanes during a major hurricane season in 2017 to two major hurricanes.
David Grant, senior meteorologist for the Met Office, said: “The Atlantic is enjoying a period of well below-average tropical cyclone activity. However, with just three weeks remaining in the hurricane season, we may see a few more tropical storms by the end of October.”
Last week, a NOAA scientist, Jessica Blunden, said: “There is typically a slight decrease in hurricane activity from August to November and we’ve seen that this year”. She added: “Our early projections have us looking to be a little bit below average so we are still working on this prediction but we would be glad to see these types of activity rates continued.”
Alan Cobb, a co-director of a network of independent climate scientists called the Climate Science Rapid Response Network, said: “If the climate can’t hold these things back – a hurricane surge was the main reason for the storm surge damage in Puerto Rico – well, we see the force of climate change all the time. I don’t get it.”