2107 Could Be Big Year For Hurricanes (Or Not)
Like all weather forecasting, hurricane prediction is an inexact science. (I've always said that meteorology is "voodoo science". My trick knee is better at forecasting rain than the local TV weatherman.) So far in the 2107 hurricane season there have been five tropical storms: Arlene, Bret, Cindy, Don, and Emily.
If you'll recall, back in June, weather prognosticators were saying that Shreveport and Mobile were the most likely to flood when tropical storm Cindy made landfall. Mobile got drenched with 8.29 inches, but the Ark-La-Tex was dampened by just a couple of inches. Ocean Springs, Mississippi, got the worst of it; Cindy dumped 18.74 inches on this Gulf Coast town that has seen more than it's fair share of damage from storms over the years.
So, as we enter the height of the 2017 hurricane season, how many storms are predicted to materialize? Well, that's tricky because the foremost authority in the U.S. on hurricane prediction can't make up its mind.
For the past 34 years, the hurricane research team at Colorado State University (CSU) has issued the seasonal hurricane forecast, and they are considered to be the highest authority in storm prediction. Back in April, the team predicted that this would be a below-average year with regards to the number of storms we would see. In June they increased the year's forecast to near-average. Then, on July 5th, CSU's meteorologists decided it was going to be an above-average year. And just two days ago, they reiterated that position and included an estimate of the number of storms we can expect to see for the rest of the season.
Now, let's be charitable here. Hurricane creation depends largely on oceanic and atmospheric conditions that are constantly in flux. In a report from the Louisiana Radio Network, Louisiana State Climatologist Barry Keim says the two main factors are El Nino and the warmth of tropical and sub-tropical sea surfaces. El Nino mitigates hurricane formation, and warm water encourages it. Keim says that El Nino is not likely to form and sea temperatures are running above normal; ergo, the potential for storm creation is heightened.
Let's bottom-line it. CSU now says that we can anticipate 11 named storms for the rest of the season. Eight of those storms are predicted to become hurricanes. Three of those are expected to become major. As for the Gulf Coast, there is a 38% chance that a major hurricane will make landfall.
What does that mean for us here in the Ark-La-Tex? I'll let you know when my knee starts aching.