WSI Corp, a private weather forcaster based in Andover, Massachusetts, has reduced their predictions for the 2009 Atlantic hurricane season, which should be good news for people living on the Atlantic coast.
When the original predictions were released last December, the forecast for the six-month Atlantic hurricane season that begins on June 1st was for 13 tropical storms including seven hurricanes. The new forecast, which was released last Monday, is a bit lower, including only 11 tropical storms of which six will become hurricanes.
Why the lower numbers? A spokesperson from WSI explains that it is related to cooler water temperatures in the tropical parts of the Atlantic Ocean, and a fading La Nina cool-water event in the eastern Pacific Ocean.
WSI’s predictions are that two of their forecast six hurricanes would become major storms – Category 3 or greater on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale of hurricane intensity. Major storms typically cause the most destruction, and feature wind speeds in excess of 110 miles per hour.
WSI Corp is not the only prominent forecaster to downgrade their numbers. The research team from Colorado State University (CSU) has also published lower numbers with predictions of 12 tropical storms including six hurricanes. Their cited reasons were the same as those offered by WSI Corp: cooling waters in the tropical Atlantic and weakening La Nina conditions.
WSI seasonal forecaster Dr. Todd Crawford, hurricanes draw energy from warm sea water, which is why cooler water may diminish activity. “Ocean temperatures in the tropical Atlantic are cooler, relative to normal, than at any time since 1994,” Crawford said.
The team at Colorado State agreed, adding that there’s also the possibility of a weak El Nino event emerging this summer, in the Pacific. (El Nino is a warming of the waters in the eastern Pacific, which tends to suppress Atlantic hurricane formation.)
Even with reduced numbers, residents of the east coast, especially those in areas hit by hurricanes in previous years, are advised to check their insurance policies before the season begins.