2017 Florida Weather Highlights
After several quiet years, weather forecasters think we might be entering a more active hurricane season after a few quiet years.
Prior to 2016, Florida had gone a record ten years without a hurricane making landfall that is until Hurricane Hermine hit Apalachee Bay in the Panhandle.
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 April/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 in 2015 Ana also formed in May. In 2016 Alex formed in January and Bonnie in May. This year, Arlene formed in April.
August and September are traditionally the most active months.
Hurricane predictions for 2017
The team led by Philip J. Klotzbach from the Department of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University made their first predictions for the 2017 hurricane season in April. They forecast a below average season with up to 11 named storms, four of them hurricanes of which two could become a major hurricane (Category 3 or greater with sustained winds of 111 mph or more).
This was due to the reduced likelihood of a significant Pacific weather system known as El Niño, coupled with cooler Atlantic water temperatures.
Colorado issued a revised forecast at the beginning of June and increased their forecast numbers to 13 named storms, six hurricanes and two major hurricanes.
They predicted that there is a 55% chance that at least one major hurricane will make landfall on the entire United States coastline during 2017 (average is 52%) with a 33% chance (average is 31%) for the eastern Florida peninsula and a 32% chance (average is 30%) for the Gulf Coast.
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 predicted an above average season with a 70% chance of an estimated 11 to 17 named storms, five to nine hurricanes of which between two and four could be major hurricanes. This again puts their worst case scenario ahead of Colorado State University.
AccuWeather.com normally produce their forecast around the middle of May and this year is predicting only 10 named storms with five hurricanes of which three could become major hurricanes. They also predict three named storms could make landfall in the USA.
Tropical Storm Risk is predicting higher numbers with 14 named storms and six hurricanes of which three could become major.
Earth Networks who power WeatherBug are predicting nine to 13 named storms including three to six hurricanes of which two or three could be major.
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 Andrew in 1992 or Katrina and Sandy more recently.
In 1992 there were only seven named storms making it a “quiet” year but the first storm of the season, the 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 2017
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 2017 are as follows:
Arlene formed well before the official start of the hurricane season on Wednesday, April 19, southwest of the Azores and became a tropical storm on the following day. By April 21 it had reached wind speeds of 50 mph but it quickly dissipated.
Tropical Storm Bret formed in the Atlantic southeast of the island of Trinidad on Monday, June 19. It started moving quickly west northwest tracking north of Venezuela towards Nicaragua but quickly deteriorated.
Tropical Storm Cindy formed in the Gulf of Mexico just a day after Tropical Storm Bret. It started tracking northwest towards the coast of Texas and Louisiana with wind speeds of 45 mph. It was expected to strengthen to about 60 mph. On Thursday, June 22 it came ashore in southwest Louisiana as a Tropical Depression and is responsible for at least one death in Alabama.