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NOAA Predicts Two to Four Major Hurricanes this Season

Updated: May 27, 2019

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Saturday June 1st marks the official start of hurricane season, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) just released its prediction for the next six months-worth of cyclonic activity in the Atlantic Ocean.


NOAA forecasts a 40 percent chance of a near-normal season, a 30 percent chance of an above-normal season and a 30 percent chance of a below-normal season. But what does a near-normal hurricane season actually mean for islanders?


Within a 70 percent confidence interval, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center forecasts, that 2019 will see anywhere from 9 to 15 named storms, which require wind of 39 miles per hour or more. Four to eight of those could become hurricanes if they reach winds of 74mpg or higher, including two to four major ones clocking in at 111 mpg or higher (category 3, 4 or 5).


In comparison, the average Atlantic hurricane season produces 12 named storms, of which six evolve into hurricanes, including three major ones, according to NOAA.


A graphic showing hurricane season probability and numbers of named storms. (NOAA)

Gerry Bell, NOAA’s lead seasonal hurricane forecaster, explained that “this year’s outlook reflects competing climate factors. The ongoing El Niño is expected to help suppress the activity. In contrast, warmer-than-average sea-surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and an expected stronger-than-normal west African monsoon favor increased activity.”


Usually, hurricane season starts June 1st, but, for the fifth consecutive year, hurricane season has started at least a week earlier. In fact, last Monday, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) issued this season’s first warning to residents of Bermuda, an island some 975 miles north of Puerto Rico, about subtropical storm Andrea forming less than 300 miles southwest of its archipelago.


By Wednesday, though, Andrea had already fizzled out. The next storm to reach winds of 39 mph would be called Barry, according to the World Meteorological Organization.


A graphic showing 2019 Atlantic tropical cyclone names selected by the World Meteorological Organization. (NOAA)

The federal agency also announced that the National Weather Service (NWS) is making its first major upgrade to the Global Forecast System weather model in almost 40 years that will improve tropical cyclone track and intensity forecasts.


“NOAA is driving towards a community-based development program for future weather and climate modeling to deliver the very best forecasts, by leveraging new investments in research and working with the weather enterprise,” said its administrator, Neil Jacobs.


He added that the National Hurricane Center (NHC) and the NWS office in San Juan will expand the coastal storm surge watches and warnings this year to include Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.


The NHC’s data on excessive rainfall outlooks, in combination with higher-resolution data from the Hurricane Hunter aircraft, Jacobs expects that hurricane specialists like Gerry Bell will have better visibility of storm surges, which are one of the most dangerous inland threats from hurricanes.


It is important to highlight that NOAA’s outlook is ONLY for overall seasonal activity and DOES NOT constitute a landfall forecast. Accurate data on a storm’s landfall will only be available on a case by case basis, so NOAA and its affiliates stress the importance of getting ready for hurricane season 2019 as soon as possible, no matter what. So, why don’t we start today?


Subtropical storm Andrea was dissipating when one of NASA’s satellites captured this image on May 21. (Earth Observing System Data and Information System)

#HurricaneReady: Your Guide to Surviving Hurricane Season


If this news caught you off-guard, don’t worry, get ready. A Rinconvenient Truth sat down with the director of Rincón’s Municipal Office of Emergency Management (OMME), Hector Martínez, to learn about the town’s emergency plan for the storms that may come.


Every two days, starting today (Saturday), we'll post a new story to help you get #HurricaneReady.


If you have other tips and tricks regarding the topic of the day, please, comment or send us a message via our Contact Page. We will update our guide and send you a shoutout on Facebook.


On June 1st, we will post the whole list so you can continue working on your plan and share with your neighbors, friends and family. For now, here’s our first recommendation.

Start Monitoring Hurricane Activity in the Atlantic Ocean


The key to surviving inclement weather is preparation, and it starts with staying in the know.


Prior to the storm, The US National Weather Service in San Juan should be your first stop for weather news, as it cross-references information from NOAA, NASA, and many other government agencies that monitor the Earth’s atmosphere and bodies of water. The NHC in Miami, Florida also delivers 2-day and 5-day weather forecasts for the North Atlantic.


You may also want to follow their social media accounts to include their information in your daily news digest. Although they are not primary sources of weather information, you may also follow TropicalTidbits and Hurricane Center PR and join the Rincón Hurricane News group on Facebook to stay in the loop.

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