By Carl Lisciandrello
Researchers at Colorado State University are maintaining their prediction of a near-average 2019 hurricane season.
Updated projections released on Tuesday predict 13 additional named storms will form in 2019, with six becoming hurricanes and two classified as major hurricanes.
The “odds of a weak El Niño persisting through August-October have diminished slightly,” according to the report, which also states Atlantic sea surface temperatures are not particularly favorable to produce an active season.
An El Niño pattern results in more vertical wind shear in the Caribbean that tends to tear apart hurricanes as they approach from the Atlantic.
“Neither El Niño nor tropical Atlantic sea surface temperatures look to play either a significantly enhancing or diminishing role on the 2019 season,” according to the report. “Consequently, we are forecasting a near-average season.”
The latest prediction has not changed since June, and the only change from the original forecast in April is the formation of one additional hurricane.
Forecasters say there is a 31% chance of at least one major hurricane (Category 3 or higher) making landfall from the Florida Panhandle to Brownsville, Texas, and a 54% that it will come ashore anywhere in the U.S.
There were 15 named storms in 2018, with eight hurricane and two major hurricanes – Florence, which made landfall as a Category 1 storm in North Carolina in September; and Michael, which made landfall on the Florida Panhandle in October as a powerful Category 5 storm with maximum sustained winds of 160 mph.
Despite the prediction of an average season, researchers remind residents along the coast that “it only takes one hurricane making landfall to make it an active season for them, and they need to prepare the same for every season, regardless of how much activity is predicted.”
Researchers will release their final hurricane forecast for 2019 on Aug. 5.