Today, June 1, marks the “official” start to the 2012 hurricane season. That being said, we’ve already seen two pre-season tropical storms, Alberto and Beryl. Does this signal an active hurricane season ahead?
The answer….not necessarily.
The hurricane season began prematurely this year because conditions were just right for tropical cyclone formation. The season is a six month-long season, and a lot can (and probably will) change between now and November 30. The phenomenon known of as La Nina just ended in April, and an El Nino pattern may begin to take shape by the middle or end of the season. If El Nino does in fact develop, an increase in wind shear over the Atlantic basin is not uncommon. This would tend to be unfavorable for tropical cyclone formation.
Whether or not El Nino develops remains to be seen. Therefore, with all the other factors fairly “neutral” for now, I will release my official forecast for the 2012 season, with the 1981-2010 averages in parenthesis.
Named Storms: 13 (12)
Hurricanes: 6 (6)
Major Hurricanes: 2 (3)
I hesitate to issue such a forecast though, because all too often, people look at the numbers and say, well if there’s only going to be two major hurricanes, I don’t need to worry about anything. However, take for instance the case of the hurricane season which began this date 20 years ago. The year was 1992, “only” 7 tropical/subtropical storms developed, with 4 of those becoming hurricanes. Seven storms, easy season, right???
One of those 4 hurricanes which developed in 1992 was Hurricane Andrew. Hurricane Andrew (until Katrina in 2005) was the number one costliest hurricane in US history. This goes to show all residents of US coastlines need to be equally prepared every season regardless of what the predictions are. It only takes one!