Tom Konvicka's tropical outlook for 2017
The outlook for the 2017 Atlantic Basin hurricane season could definitely be more positive.
Seventeen named storms are expected in the Atlantic Basin this year. That number compares to 15 storms in 2016 and 19 storms in 2012. The long-term average is 11 named storms. Other outlooks include the following:
Tropical Storm Research, Inc...12
Colorado State University...11
The Weather Company...14
North Carolina State University...11-15
The Cuban Meteorological Service...10
Nationall Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)...11-17
In summary, most forecasters are expecting an average or above-average year.
THE SCIENCE BEHIND THE OUTLOOK
Meteorologists have enough trouble with forecasting short-term weather, so why venture out with an outlook for months ahead? The simple answer is that business, industry, and the public see the need to be prepared. Luckily, as it turns out, there are several factors that have some predictive value in long-range tropical outlooks.
Both the Pacific and the Atlantic Ocean basins are considered important, even though the outlook specifically concerns the Atlantic Basin. Basically, patterns of wind, pressure, and water temperatures yield useful information about possible future weather in the tropical and subtropical Atlantic Ocean. Specifically, in 2017, there is lots of warm water, deep-layer wind shear is projected to be favorable, and El Nino is expected to be weak or in a neutral phase.
A FEW KEY POINTS
The most difficult part of the tropical outlook is where storms will go once they form. Steering of tropical cyclones can only be reliably done two weeks or less ahead of time; however, some of the analog years indicate a landfall threat to both the Gulf and the Atlantic coastlines.
It is also significant that the above-normal activity may signal that the major hurricane landfall drought could end in 2017. The last hurricane to make landfall in the United States as a major storm was Wilma in 2005.
The battle against tropical cyclones is won during the off season. It is time to prepare if you have not already done so. Also, the meteorological and emergency response communities will be ready when a tropical cyclone threatens.