The latest update on the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season, released by Colorado State University, predicts less-than-average storm activity for the remainder of the season. Early predictions called for 14 total named storms, seven hurricanes (later dropped to six) and two major hurricanes. The most recent predictions reveal a much less active season. Not including Subtropical Storm Alberto, which occurred just a few days before the hurricane season officially started, CSU’s latest outlook predicts a total of 10 more named storms, four hurricanes and only one major hurricane of Category 3 or higher intensity for the 2018 season.
Several Factors Contributing to a Less Active Hurricane Season
There are several factors that lead the experts at CSU to these new numbers:
Cooler-Than-Average Atlantic Ocean Temperatures
A pattern of cooler-than-average temperatures that emerged early in the season has continued throughout the eastern and central northern Atlantic Ocean. When experts compared the temperature patterns to inactive and active hurricane seasons, they found that the current pattern more closely matches up with the inactive hurricane seasons of the past.
In order to develop and strengthen, tropical storms and hurricanes need the warmer ocean waters. If the pattern of lower-than-average ocean temperatures continues as it is expected to, it will likely be a contributor of less tropical activity.
A Faster Transition Into El Niño
El Niño is the term used to describe the natural climatic changes of the equatorial Pacific region every few years, typically occurring near the end of December. It is mainly characterized by unusually warm, nutrient-poor water off of the Pacific coast of South America. The El Niño weather pattern tends to suppress the development of Atlantic hurricanes.
The latest outlook from NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center forecasts this year’s El Niño conditions to potentially take over later this fall, which is earlier than usual for an El Niño season. A faster warming of the Pacific ocean and a quicker transition into El Niño means fewer storms and hurricanes are likely to develop, especially towards the end of the hurricane season.
A Positive North Atlantic Oscillation
The North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) is a weather phenomenon in the North Atlantic Ocean that includes fluctuations in the difference of atmospheric pressure at sea level between the Icelandic low and the Azores high. This pattern of pressure gradients is forecasted to remain positive through the next few months.
A positive NAO can bring with it less-than-favorable conditions for hurricane development including; stronger winds across much of the subtropics and North Atlantic, cooler water temperatures and a slightly faster tropical wave track across the Atlantic.
Coastal Residents Shouldn’t Let Their Guards Down
Regardless of what the outlooks say about the 2018 hurricane season, coastal residents should still be prepared for any possible storms and ensure their hurricane insurance is up to date. A less active season does not necessarily mean that coastal areas are safe from hurricane damage. For example, the 1992 hurricane season was a below-average season, producing only six named storms and one subtropical storm. However, one of the named storms, Hurricane Andrew, made landfall as a Category 5 hurricane, causing devastating damage to South Florida.
Even an unnamed tropical storm can cause major damage to structures, depending on how it moves and how much rain it produces. Insurance agents should share this information with their clients to help keep them updated and prepared as the 2018 hurricane season continues.
About Wilmington Insurance Agency
Wilmington Insurance Agency delivers comprehensive coastal property solutions. We are a Managing General Agency and provide independent insurance agents with property and liability insurance solutions for residents and businesses primarily in Maryland and Virginia. We work alongside our sister company, Wilmington Insurance Company, established in 1996 and providing Property & Casualty commercial lines business, homeowners, and condominium insurance in the state of Delaware. To learn more about how we can help you to expand your book of business in the coastal market, contact us at (302) 231-2800.