In 2016, the waters of the Atlantic are churning with more energy than we’ve seen in a few years, and forecasters are bracing for what’s expected to be “the most active” hurricane season since 2012, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
So far this year there have been six named storms — tropical cyclones of significant enough size to merit a name off the annual list. Two of them became full-fledged hurricanes. The most recent is Tropical Storm Fiona, which formed earlier this week off the coast of Africa and is likely to spin harmlessly off into the Arctic.
The NOAA predicts 12 to 17 named storms in 2016, with five to eight hurricanes. Two to four of those hurricanes will likely be “major hurricanes.”
That’s up from the 10 to 16 named storms, four to eight hurricanes, and one to four major hurricanes the agency forecasted in May. It also positions 2016 to be a somewhat above-average Atlantic storm year.
We’re seeing the uptick, the agency says, because of El Niño’s end and a strong West African monsoon season, among other factors. However, current ocean temperature and atmospheric patterns would tend to reduce the overall tropical storm threat, guarding against a truly severe storm year.
Overall, our warming and changing climate favours larger and more erratic storms. So far we’ve been lucky not to see another hurricane year like 2005, which blew so far past the alphabet of names we ended up with “Hurricane Epsilon” and “Tropical Storm Zeta.”
Already, we’re tracking a tropical depression that could evolve into Tropical Storm Gaston:
— Eric Holthaus (@EricHolthaus) August 19, 2016
Hold on to your hats, folks.
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