With the peak of the 2013 hurricane season approaching in the Atlantic Basin, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has reaffirmed its June forecast for a stormy summer.
Four named tropical storms have formed in the Atlantic Basin — which includes the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean Sea — since the 2013 hurricane season began June 1. None of those storms have strengthened into hurricanes. The NOAA forecast update, released Thursday, says an additional nine to 15 named storms could form before the season ends November 30.
NOAA’s updated forecast also predicted that six to nine hurricanes with winds of at least 74 mph could form. And three to five of those hurricanes could develop into major hurricanes with winds exceeding 110 mph.
In a prepared statement, Gerry Bell, NOAA’s lead seasonal hurricane forecaster, said NOAA based its forecast on the fact that conditions are very favorable for storm formation in the Atlantic. Those conditions include above-average water temperatures and a stronger rainy season in West Africa, which produces wind patterns that help turn storm systems into tropical storms and hurricanes.
Hurricanes draw their power from warm ocean water.
Bell also noted that two of the four named storms formed in an area near the west coast of Africa known as the “deep tropical Atlantic.” When that has happened in the past, it has been a harbinger of an active hurricane season, Bell said.
Similar conditions in the past 18 years have produced many active hurricane seasons, the NOAA release noted.
The NOAA updated forecast was nearly identical to an updated seasonal forecast issued last month by meteorologists at Colorado State University. The CSU forecast also predicted a very active season.
September 10 is considered the peak of the hurricane season for the Atlantic.
The full NOAA forecast can be seen here.
Willie Drye has been writing about hurricanes and other topics for National Geographic News since 2003. Follow his blog, Drye Goods.