June 1st marks the opening to the 2019 Atlantic Hurricane Season. Sea surface temperatures rise and wind shear begins to diminish across the tropical Atlantic giving fuel to developing tropical systems.
- The 2019 Hurricane Season beings Saturday, June 1, 2019
- Forecasters calling for a near-average season
- The North Atlantic has already produced one subtropical storm
Forecasters have released their forecasts for the 2019 year, the National Hurricane Center and Colorado State University are calling for a near-average hurricane season in the Atlantic.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says, “a weak El Niño is underway in the tropical Pacific, and it’s likely to continue through summer (70% chance) and fall (55-60% chance). Weak events can still produce moderate or strong impacts in some places, but such impacts are less likely overall.”
An El Niño generally causes cooler sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic along with higher levels of wind shear, both of which hinder the formation and strengthening of tropical systems.
2019 also marks the fifth straight year in a row that the Atlantic has produced a tropical storm outside the designated season – June 1 to November 30. Subtropical Storm Andrea formed on May 20 and was a weak system just to the southwest of Bermuda. The storm only survived 0.75 days before it dissipated out at sea on May 21. Andrea is an example that even though a weak El Niño is in place, there is still enough energy in the atmosphere to have a storm form and that we should always be prepared this hurricane season.
Meteorologists can forecast hurricane numbers each year but forecasting a specific track of a tropical cyclone remains challenging at this time. Agencies may “only” be calling for 2-4 major hurricanes this year but that does not mean these hurricanes will stay out at sea and not bring any impacts to land. The past three years have been deadly for the United States and reminded many residents along the shoreline that we are very vulnerable to these powerful systems. Hurricane’s Matthew, Irma, Florence, Maria, Harvey, and Michael, have shown how deadly a hurricane can be and that residents must always be prepared no matter what forecasts say.