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.
The latest two potential hurricanes to keep an eye on? The improbably named Gaston and Hermine.
So far this year there have been seven named storms — tropical cyclones of significant enough size to merit a name off the annual list. Two of them became full-fledged hurricanes. A third powerful tropical storm, Gaston, is growing. It could reach hurricane power today. Gaston is expected to graze Bermuda before sharply veering off into the North Atlantic and losing strength.
Another disturbance, currently known as 99L, could strengthen into Tropical Storm Hermine this week.
Accuweather reports that such a storm could threaten the Bahamas and Florida, but would likely see its growth capped by the mountains of Puerto Rico, Hispaniola, and Cuba.
We’re entering peak season for severe tropical storms and hurricanes, which will continue until mid-Octobor.
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.”
Hold on to your hats, folks.
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