Tom's 2018 Atlantic Basin Hurricane Season Outlook

Published: May. 23, 2018 at 10:56 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

Meteorologists have enough trouble forecasting short-term weather, so why talk about something months in advance? The simple answer is that business, industry, and the general public all see the advantage of being prepared.


As it turns out, there are several factors that have demonstrated some predictive skill in long-range tropical outlooks. Both the Pacific and the Atlantic Ocean basins exert an influence, even though this outlook specifically concerns the Atlantic Basin, a term used to denote the North Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico. Basically, patterns of wind, pressure, and water temperatures yield useful information about possible future weather in the tropical and subtropical Atlantic Basin. For 2018, here is an outline of the bedrock reasoning underpinning the outlook.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

The Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO), a mode of natural climatic variability which manifests itself in patterns of sea-surface temperature, is expected to trend toward a negative phase. This favors a tropical activity level near the long-term average of 11. The Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), a cousin to the AMO, appears to be trending negative and this would promote near-average activity as well. The El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is projected to be in a neutral state during the 2018 hurricane season, although a Modoki type (characterized by an area of warm water sandwiched between cool waters to the east and west) has a low-end chance to evolve. Sea surface temperatures (SSTs) in the Main Development Region (MDR) of the Atlantic Ocean are likely to be lower than normal; however, anomalously warm water will set up closer to the United States coasts. The nearby warm water leads to a +2 adjustment to the outlook. Lastly, deep-layer wind shear is progged to be near average, so no adjustment needed. Finally, a couple of analog years I like are 2002 and 2014 but 2006 looks good if the Modoki pattern develops. As the scorecard says, MY PREDICTION FOR THE 2018 ATLANTIC BASIN HURRICANE SEASON IS FOR 14 NAMED STORMS.


Image and video hosting by TinyPic

The fourteen named storms would make 2018 less active than in 2016 and 2017. Consistent with some previous years, an early and/or late storm remains possible. With warm water near shore, there is the opportunity that one or more tropical systems could intensify rapidly so watch these "home-grown" variety. Finally, a slightly higher than average risk of a landfall exists on the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts as well as the Florida Peninsula. In central Louisiana, the analog year of 2002 produced Hurricane Lili.


The battle against tropical cyclones is won during the offseason. It is time to prepare for yet another hurricane season and YOUR FIRST ALERT STORM TEAM will keep you ahead of the storm!


Please do not misinterpret this outlook. This is just my opinion based on several factors related to patterns of tropical convection. The effects of tropical cyclones are a unique blend of storm attributes, steering patterns, coastline geometry, and the matrix of society. Any details regarding an individual storm cannot be forecasted this far in advance. In short, have fun with this and check at the end of the year to see if this outlook was accurate.