Weather forecasters think we might be entering a slightly quieter spell meaning less active hurricane seasons for a few years.
For three out of the last five years, there have been 19 named storms each year though both 2013 and 2014 were quieter than predicted. Most forecasters are also predicting a relatively quiet 2015 season.
However, Florida has now gone a record nine 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 and already in 2015 Ana has also formed in May.
August and September are traditionally the most active months.
Hurricane predictions for 2015
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 2015 hurricane season in April. They forecast a slower than normal season with up to seven 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 predicted that there is only a 28% chance that at least one major hurricane will make landfall on the United States eastern coastline during 2015 (average is 52%) with a 15% chance (average is 31%) for the eastern Florida peninsula and a 15% chance (average is 30%) for the Gulf Coast.
They issued a revised forecast at the beginning of June and increased the number of named storms to eight including three hurricanes, one of which could become a major hurricane.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) usually put out their first predictions at the end of May each year with a revised forecast in August. This year in May they also predicted a slightly slower than average season with a 70% chance of an estimated 6 to 11 named storms, three to six hurricanes of which up to two could be major hurricanes. This again puts their worst case scenario ahead of Colorado State University.
It is expect that El Niño will suppress the season and sea temperatures in the Atlantic will be about average. This potentially will have a dampening effect on the storms.
AccuWeather.com normally produce their forecast around the middle of May and this year is predicting eight named storms with four hurricanes of which one could be major with two to three landfalls in the continental USA.
Tropical Storm Risk is predicting similar numbers with ten named storms and four hurricanes of which one could become major.
Everyone seems to agree that the combination of cooler Atlantic sea temperatures and the emergence of 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 making it a “quiet” year but the first storm of the season, category 5 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 2015
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 2015 are as follows:
Saturday, May 9: Tropical Storm Ana marks an early start to the 2015 hurricane season. Ana formed off the coast of South Carolina and is tracking NNW at 5 mph with wind speeds of up to 60 mph.
It is expected to make landfall near Myrtle Beach on Sunday as it starts to weaken.
Tuesday, June 16: Tropical Storm Bill formed in the Gulf of Mexico and made landfall on the Texas coast near Matagorda Island, northeast of Corpus Christi bringing heavy rainfall and localised flooding.
Wednesday, July 15: Claudette is weakening as it tracks off the coast of Newfoundland. It is moving Northeast with a wind speed of 45 mph.
Tropical Storm Claudette formed in the Atlantic on Monday July 13 and is not expected to make landfall.
Monday, August 24: Danny weakened to a Tropical Storm before breaking up as it reached Puerto Rico.
At one stage it strengthened to category 3 hurricane with wind speeds of 115 mph. Tropical storm watches were posted for Antigua, Barbuda, Montserrat, St. Kitts, Nevis, Anguilla, Saba, St. Eustatius and St. Maarten.
Hurricane Danny strengthened as it continued to move westwards towards the Lesser Antilles and Windward Islands in the eastern Caribbean and became this season’s first hurricane.
Tropical Storm Danny formed in the Atlantic southwest of the Cape Verde Islands on August 18.
Saturday, August 29: Tropical Storm Erika hit the Dominican Islands and over 30 people were feared dead. It then weakened and dissipated as it approached Cuba.
As Hurricane Danny broke up, a new Tropical Storm Erika formed in its wake. Tropical Storm Erika formed late Monday and started heading towards the Leeward Islands with wind speeds of 45 mph. It was expected to take a similar path to Danny.
Sunday, September 6: Tropical Storm Fred further weakened to a tropical depression as it tracked WNW. It then started to veer towards the northeast as broke up.
It hit the Cape Verde Islands on August 31 as a category 1 hurricane with wind speeds of 85 mph, the first since 1892 to hit the islands.
Tropical Storm Fred set a new record when it formed on Sunday, August 30. It is the easternmost hurricane to ever form in the Atlantic Tropics.
Monday, September 7: Tropical Storm Grace is currently tracking westwards with wind speeds of up to 50 mph. The current forecast shows it continuing to track in a westerly direction. It is expected to reach the Montserrat in the eastern Caribbean by the weekend but weakened to a tropical depression.
Tropical Storm Grace formed on September 5, off the coast of Africa, southwest of the Cape Verde Islands.
Wednesday, September 16: At least three people have died in France as the remnants of Tropical Storm Henri swept across the country.
Tropical Storm Henri formed around 250 east-southeast of Bermuda on September 10 and passed well east of Bermuda before turning northwards and then back towards Northern Europe.
Sunday, September 20: Tropical Storm Ida is strengthening and could reach hurricane strength by the middle of the week. It is currently tracking west-northwest at 15 mph with wind speeds of 40 mph. It is forecast to turn northwards before reaching the Caribbean.
Tropical Storm Ida strengthened to tropical storm status on Friday, September 18 about 1,000 miles west of the Cape Verde Islands.
Sunday, October 4: Hurricane Joaquin briefly reached category 4 status with wind speeds of 130 mph as it tracked through the Bahamas. It is the second major hurricane of the 2015 season.
It then started to turn northwards towards Bermuda. Even though it was 600 miles east of Florida’s Atlantic coastline, it still caused exceptionally high waves measuring up to 11 feet and a number of swimmers had to be rescued.
Tropical Storm Joaquin formed around 400 miles northeast of the Bahamas and started drifting westwards with wind speeds of 45 mph.
Tuesday, November 10: Tropical Storm Kate is tracking northwest at 16 mph with wind speeds of up to 60 mph. It is not expected to strengthen to hurricane status but will turn toward the northeast before reaching the Atlantic coastline.
Tropical Storm Kate formed on Monday near the Bahamas.