The 2016 hurricane season doesn’t officially begin until June 1, but we’ve already seen our first named hurricane of the year. Hurricane Alex fired up in a month not usually considered for hurricanes– January! This hurricane passed over the Azores — nine volcanic islands in the North Atlantic Ocean, about 850 miles west of Portugal — on January 15th.
You might expect that if tropical activity started popping up nearly five months before the official start of hurricane season that we might be on the way toward a very active season, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.
Colorado State University, which issues a seasonal outlook prior to the start of each hurricane season says that 2016 will be “average.” They base their forecast on a combination of 29 years of statistical predictors, combined with seasons exhibiting similar features of sea-level pressure and sea-surface temperatures in the Atlantic and eastern Pacific Oceans.
In 2016, a total of 12 named storms, including five hurricanes and two major hurricanes are expected. A major hurricane is one that is Category 3 or stronger on the 1 to 5 Saffir Simpson Hurricane Scale.
This doesn’t mean that those who live along the Atlantic Seaboard should let their guard down regarding hurricane activity. Unfortunately, there is no strong correlation between the number of storms or hurricanes and U.S. landfalls in any given season.
For instance, the 1992 season saw below-normal tropical activity, producing only six named storms and one subtropical storm. However, one of those named storms was Hurricane Andrew, which devastated South Florida as a Category 5 hurricane on August 24th, then two days later impacted Louisiana as a Category 4. So in spite of the fact that fewer than normal tropical cyclones formed that year, 1992 will always be remembered for Andrew.
Now contrast that to the 2010 season, which was very active. There were 19 named storms and 12 hurricanes that formed in the Atlantic Basin. And yet, despite the large number of storms that year, not a single hurricane and only one tropical storm made landfall in the United States!
The U.S. averages between 1 to 2 hurricane landfalls each season, according to NOAA’s Hurricane Research Division. However, the number of U.S. landfalls has been much below average in the last decade.
What does the Almanac Predict?
Farmers’ Almanac is forecasting a threat of tropical storms for early July, late August, and late September along the Gulf Coast, and hurricane threats in early August along the Gulf Coast, and mid-August along the Atlantic Coast. For more specific forecasts and dates be sure to check the 2016 Farmers’ Almanac. The traditional peak of the hurricane season is September 10th.
For 2016, the Atlantic tropical storm and hurricane names are:
Alex • Bonnie • Colin • Danielle • Earl • Fiona • Gaston • Hermine • Ian • Julia • Karl • Lisa • Matthew • Nicole • Otto • Paula • Richard • Shary • Tobias • Virginie • Walter