2018 hurricane forecast: NOAA gives tips, predictions for an active Atlantic season
Scientists have taken the ocean's temperature, and are feeling a bit better about this year's Atlantic hurricane season.
Three months ago, the temperatures of the surface of the ocean looked similar to those observed in 2017, when there were 18 tropical depressions, 17 tropical storms and 10 hurricanes, six of which were major storms — Category 3 or higher.
Hurricane Maria was the strongest, with max winds at 175 miles per hour. The United States and its neighbors to the south faced devastation from the storms that took thousands of lives and caused hundreds of billions in damages.
Puerto Rico's water system is just now returning to normal. Parts of states including Texas, North and South Carolina are still recovering. Parts of North Carolina still are recovering from 2016's Hurricane Matthew.
But things might be different this year.
In April, Colorado State University's Tropical Meteorology Project issued a preseason forecast that predicted a busy Atlantic hurricane season, though not as bad as last year.
The forecast included seven hurricanes, with three at Cat 3 or higher, and about 14 named storms.
At the time, meteorologists and hurricane researchers blamed warmer waters in the western Atlantic for a potentially busy season. Warm water makes it more likely tropical storms will form.
In late May, just before the beginning of hurricane season June 1 (until Nov. 30), Researchers with the Hurricane Genesis & Outlook (HUGO) Project at Coastal Carolina University also predicted a slightly above average hurricane season, with 11-18 named storms.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecast 10-16 named storms, 5-9 hurricanes, 1-4 of which could be major.
But now, CSU experts say the ocean's temperature has changed.
Three months ago, sea surface temperatures were very similar to 2017, CSU meteorologist Phillip Klotzbach said. "Now (sea surface temperatures) are about 1.5 degrees Celsius cooler than they were at this time last year. Much less active Atlantic hurricane season expected."
And the season is already off to a much slower start.
There have been no Atlantic named storms formed so far this June.
The National Hurricane Center forecasts no Atlantic named storms developing in the next five days.
That could mean we could close out June with no named storms at all in 2018.
"The last time that June had 0 Atlantic named storms was 2014," Klotzbach said.
There's potential for El Nino development in the next few months, which could suppress Atlantic hurricane activity too, according to NOAA.