Hurricane outlook elevated as El Niño fades

The 2019 Atlantic hurricane season might produce more storms following the end of an El Niño cycle, forecasters say.

Forecasters with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Thursday released a hurricane forecast update and said conditions are now more favorable for above-normal hurricane activity.

“El Niño typically suppresses Atlantic hurricane activity, but now that it’s gone, we could see a busier season ahead,” said Gerry Bell, lead seasonal hurricane forecaster with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. “This evolution, combined with the more conducive conditions associated with the ongoing high-activity era for Atlantic hurricanes that began in 1995, increases the likelihood of above-normal activity this year.”

According to the updated forecast, there’s a prediction of 10 to 17 named storms, 5 to 9 hurricanes and 2 to 4 major hurricanes. The prior forecast released on May 23, predicted there would be 9 to 15 named storms, 4 to 8 hurricanes and 2 to 4 major hurricanes.

Seasonal outlooks indicate a 45 percent chance of an above-normal Atlantic hurricane season, up from 30 percent. The likelihood of near–normal activity is now at 35 percent, and the chance of a below-normal activity has dropped to 20 percent.

NOAA reports two named storms have already come and gone. The peak of hurricane season is underway and will continue through October.

Chantal will be the next named storm when formed.

On average, there are about 12 named storms during the Atlantic hurricane season, of which six become hurricanes, including three major hurricanes, according to NOAA officials.

“(Thursday’s) updated outlook is a reminder to be prepared,” said Pete Gaynor, acting director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. “We urge everyone to learn more about hurricane hazards and prepare now, ahead of time, so that if state and local authorities announce evacuations in advance of a storm, you and your family will have planned where to go and what to do to stay safe.”

The Atlantic hurricane season continues through Nov. 30.