2014 Florida Weather Highlights
Weather forecasters are saying that we can expect more active hurricane seasons for at least the next ten years so there is no reason to suggest that the next few years will be significantly quieter than the last couple of years.
For three out of the last four years, there have been 19 named storms each year though 2013 was quieter than predicted. Most forecasters are also predicting a relatively quiet 2014 season. However, Florida has now gone eight years without a hurricane making landfall so it is only a matter of time.
Though the official hurricane season runs from June to November, it is not uncommon for storms to form before the start of the season, in May, or well beyond the end of the season right through to the following January. In 2012 both Alberto and Beryl formed in May. August and September are traditionally the most active months.
Hurricane predictions for 2014
The team led by Philip J. Klotzbach and William M. Gray from the Department of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University made their first predictions for the 2014 hurricane season in April. They have forecast a slower than normal season with up to nine named storms, three of them hurricanes of which one could become a major hurricane (Category 3 or greater with sustained winds of 111 mph or more).
They are predicting that there is a 35% chance that at least one major hurricane will make landfall on the United States eastern coastline during 2014 (average is 52%) with a 20% chance (average is 31%) for the eastern Florida peninsula and a 19% chance (average is 30%) for the Gulf Coast.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) usually put out their first predictions in May of each year with a revised forecast in August. This year in May they also predicted a slightly slower than average season with an estimated 8 to 13 named storms, three to six hurricanes of which one to two could be major hurricanes. This again puts their worst case scenario ahead of Colorado State University.
NOAA have predicted there is a 70% chance that El Niño will develop before the peak of the season in mid-August and sea temperatures in the Atlantic will be about average. This potentially will have a dampening effect on the storms.
AccuWeather.com is predicting ten named storms with five hurricanes of which two could be major. Tropical Storm Risk is predicting similar numbers with twelve named storms and five hurricanes.
Earth Networks who power WeatherBug are predicting eight to twelve named storms including three to five hurricanes of which one or two could be major.
Finally Riskpulse are predicting ten named storms, four hurricane of which two could be major hurricanes. They have estimated a 5% - 20% chance of a storm making landfall in Northern Florida with a 20% - 40% chance across Southern Florida.
Everyone seems to agree that the combination of sea temperatures and El Niño will result in a quieter season. However, no one should be complacent; any bad storm can threaten life.
Both the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Department of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University team have over estimated named storms and hurricanes in recent years but remember these are just predictions.
It only takes one storm to do untold damage, just remember Katrina and Sandy. In 1992 there were only seven named storms but the first storm of the season, Hurricane Andrew, hit Homestead near Miami before crossing over into the Gulf and onto Louisiana. Damage was estimated at $26 billion with around 65 people killed in total.
Storm names for 2014
Each year a set of names alternating between boys and girls is chosen for all named storms. Names are often re-used but the names of particularly damaging hurricanes such as Katrina and Sandy are withdrawn and never used again.
The names for tropical storms and hurricanes in 2014 are as follows:
Thursday, July 3: Hurricane Arthur marks the start of the 2014 hurricane season. Arthur formed as a tropical storm off Cape Canaveral on Tuesday and started to track northwards. A tropical storm watch was posted from Fort Pierce to Flagler Beach.
Arthur became a category 1 hurricane on Thursday and is currently tracking N at 9 mph with wind speeds of 75 mph and is expected to bring heavy rain and localised flooding.
It is expected to make landfall in North Carolina.
Monday, August 4: After threatening Puerto Rico and the eastern Dominican Republic as it tracked northwards Tropical Storm Bertha became the second hurricane of the season with winds speeds topping 80 mph.
It is not expected to strengthen any further as it starts turning toward the Northeast.
Tropical Storm Bertha formed on Thursday near Barbados and tracked West-Northwest at 20 mph with wind speeds of 45 mph. It is forecast to gradually turn curve eastwards past Miami as it heads offshore up the Atlantic coast.
Tuesday, August 26: Hurricane Cristobal is expected to start veering towards the Northeast as it tracks up the United States eastern seaboard. It is currently tracking Northwards at 12 mph with wind speeds of 75 mph and is expected to pass to the Northwest of Bermuda.
The hurricane will cause strong winds and dangerous rip currents along Florida’s Atlantic coast.
Cristobal formed on August 24 and quickly became the third consecutive hurricane of the 2014 season.
Thursday, September 4: Tropical Storm Dolly has quickly dissipated after making landfall just south of Tampico, Mexico.
Tropical Storm Dolly formed on September 2 in the Bay of Campeche off the coast of Mexico and started tracking westwards with wind speeds of 50 mph.
Tuesday, September 16: Hurricane Edouard became the first major hurricane of the 2014 season when it strengthened to a category 3 with wind speeds of 115 mph before veering towards the eastern Atlantic.
Edouard is the fourth hurricane this year.
On Sunday, Tropical Storm Edouard increased in strength to become a hurricane. It was tracking northwest with wind speeds of 70 mph and was expected to reach category 2 status. However it was then forecast to veer northeastwards well before reaching the Eastern seaboard.
Tropical Storm Edouard formed on September 12 in the Eastern Atlantic around 1,000 miles west of the Cape Verde Islands and started tracking westwards with wind speeds of 50 mph.
Monday, October 13: After a quiet month, both Hurricane Fay and Gonzalo formed within days.
Hurricane Fay formed north of the Leeward Islands and started tracking northwest. it quickly intensified into a category 1 hurricane with wind speeds of up to 75 mph before passing east of Bermuda.
It then veered northwards before turning eastwards back into the Atlantic.
Friday, October 17: Hurricane Gonzalo became the sixth hurricane and second major hurricane of the season, reaching a category 4 hurricane at its peak.
Gonzalo formed just east of the Lesser Antilles on October 12 and quickly intensified. It initially tracked westwards before veering onto a more northerly track at 7 mph with maximum wind speeds of 145 mph.
Like Fay before it, it threatened Bermuda but luckily it weakened to a category 2 before striking the island.