July 14, 2024

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Hurricane Beryl passes Cayman Islands en route to Mexico: Live updates

Hurricane Beryl passes Cayman Islands en route to Mexico: Live updates

In another dire warning about the upcoming Atlantic hurricane season, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Thursday predicted that this year will see between 17 and 25 tropical cyclones, the most it has ever forecast for the month of May in the Atlantic.

The NOAA forecast joins more than a dozen other recent projections from experts at universities, private companies and other government agencies that Expect the possibility of 14 or more storms. This season, many were asking for more than 20.

“We are seeing a lot of changes in the climate,” said Rick Spinrad, administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Press conference on Thursday morning The agency’s meteorologists believe eight to 13 of the storms could become hurricanes, meaning they will have winds of at least 74 mph. Those storms could include four to seven major hurricanes — Category 3 or higher — with winds of at least 111 mph.

Debris left behind by Hurricane Idalia in the Big Bend area of ​​Florida last August. Hurricane Idalia was one of the most powerful storms of 2023.credit…Zach Whitman for The New York Times

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, there are 85 10% chance of an above-normal season and 10% chance of a near-normal season, with The odds of a below-normal season are 5%. The average number of storms that occur in the Atlantic hurricane season is 14, including seven hurricanes and three major hurricanes.

While it only takes one storm in a below-average season to devastate a community, having conditions favorable for nearly double the number of storms makes it more likely that North America will see a tropical storm or worse, a major hurricane.

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There are 21 entries in this year’s official list of storm names, From Alberto to WilliamIf this list is exhausted, the National Weather Service moves on to Alternative list of namessomething she has only had to do twice in her history.

A scene of devastation after Hurricane Ian in Fort Myers Beach, Florida, in 2022.credit…Damon Winter/The New York Times

NOAA typically issues a forecast in May and an updated outlook in August. Before Thursday, NOAA’s top May forecast was in 2010, when it predicted 14 to 23 named storms; that year, 19 storms eventually formed before the end of the season. In 2020, the May forecast had 13 to 19 named storms, but the updated outlook for August was even higher, with 19 to 25 named storms. That season ultimately saw 30 named storms.

This year’s hurricane forecasts have been particularly aggressive due to the unprecedented conditions expected.

As meteorologists look ahead to the official start of the season on June 1, they see a commonality that has never occurred in records dating back to the mid-19th century: record-high water temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean and the possible formation of a La Niña weather pattern.

In the absence of a previous example of such conditions, forecasters trying to predict the next season can only extrapolate from past anomalies, said Brian McNoldy, a University of Miami researcher who specializes in hurricane formation.

Experts are concerned about rising ocean temperatures.

“I think all the systems are in place for a very active season,” said Phil Klotzbach, an expert in seasonal hurricane forecasting at Colorado State University.

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The critical area of ​​the Atlantic Ocean where hurricanes form is already unusually warm ahead of the season. Earlier, Benjamin Kirtman, a professor of atmospheric science at the University of Miami, described the conditions as “unprecedented,” “alarming” and “an out-of-bounds anomaly.”

Over the past century, temperatures have gradually risen. But last year, and with a severity that alarmed climate scientists, waters warmed more rapidly in a region of the Atlantic Ocean where most hurricanes form. That region, from West Africa to Central America, is warmer this year than it was before the start of last year’s hurricane season, which produced 20 named storms.

Current Atlantic Ocean temperatures are worrisome because they mean the ocean is ready to provide additional fuel for any storm that forms. And even if the surface suddenly cools, subsurface temperatures, which are also significantly higher than average, are expected to quickly reheat surface temperatures.

These high temperatures can provide the energy needed to form storms—and help them persist. Sometimes, if no other weather conditions impede a storm’s growth, it can intensify more quickly than usual, becoming a hurricane in less than a day.

In addition to the El Niño phenomenon rapidly fading in early May, the warmer temperatures are leading to increased confidence among forecasters that there will be an exceptionally high number of storms this hurricane season.

The end of El Niño and the possibility of La Niña increasing confidence in the forecast.

El Niño is caused by changes in Pacific Ocean temperatures and affects weather patterns worldwide. When it is strong, it often hinders storm development and growth. Last year, warm Atlantic temperatures helped dampen El Niño’s influence. If El Niño subsides, as meteorologists predict, there will be little to disrupt the season this time around.

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Meteorologists who specialize in El Niño tides, including Michel Le Heriot of the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center, are confident not only that El Niño will subside, but that there is a high probability — 77 percent — that La Niña will form during the peak of hurricane season.

The system could throw a curveball, she said, but at this point in spring, things are developing as meteorologists have predicted. The La Nina weather pattern should already have them looking forward to an above-average year. The potential for La Nina, combined with record sea surface temperatures this hurricane season, is expected to create a strong environment this year for storms to form and intensify.