Researchers at Colorado State University are forecasting a slightly below-average Atlantic hurricane season this year. The forecast calls for eleven named storms during the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season, which begins on June 1st and ends on November 30th.
Of those eleven named storms, researchers expect four to become hurricanes and two to reach major hurricane strength (Saffir/Simpson category 3-4-5) with sustained winds of 111 miles per hour or greater.
The forecast also downgrades the probability of major hurricanes making landfall on U.S. soil from the historical average of 52% to only 42% for 2017. Regionally, the forecast predicts only a 24% chance of a hurricane making landfall on the U.S. East Coast including the Florida peninsula (the average for the last century was 31%). A 24% landfall chance is also forecast for the U.S. Gulf of Mexico coast.
Researchers cite the potential development of El Niño as well as recent anomalous cooling in the tropical Atlantic as primary factors for the below-average season.
So far, the 2017 hurricane season is exhibiting characteristics similar to 1957, 1965, 1972, 1976, and 2002. “1957, 1965, 1976 and 2002 had slightly below-average hurricane activity, while 1972 was a well below-average season,” said Phil Klotzbach, research scientist in the Department of Atmospheric Science and lead author of the report.
2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season Names:
Photo credit: NOAA