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Hurricane Season Forecast: Colorado State University Predicts Below-Average Activity in 2014

By Chris Dolce
Published: April 10, 2014

The 2014 hurricane season is expected to have a below average number of named storms and hurricanes, according to Dr. Phillip J. Klotzbach and Dr. William Gray of Colorado State University (CSU).

2014 hurricane season forecasts from The Weather Channel (TWC) and Colorado State University (CSU) compared to average (AVG).

In its annual preseason forecast released Thursday, the team expects a total of nine named storms, three hurricanes and one major hurricane (Category 3 or higher) in the Atlantic Ocean basin. This forecast is below the long-term average of 12 named storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes each season.

The forecast from CSU calls for fewer named storms and hurricanes than the forecast released by The Weather Channel about two weeks ago. That forecast called for 11 named storms, five hurricanes and two major hurricanes, which is slightly below the long-term averages.

These forecasts cannot predict the details of any potential landfalls. Therefore, residents of the coastal United States should prepare each year no matter the forecast. The final section of this article illustrates why this is important.

Forecast Factors

The CSU tropical team cites two main factors for its forecast of a below-average hurricane season:

  1. Cooler-than-average water temperatures in the tropical Atlantic Ocean.
  2. Likelihood of at least a moderate El Nino developing later this summer or fall.

Klotzbach elaborates on these factors in the news release provided by CSU.

“The tropical Atlantic has anomalously cooled over the past several months, and the chances of a moderate to strong El Niño event this summer and fall appear to be quite high,” Klotzbach said. “Historical data indicate fewer storms form in these conditions.”

According to Klotzbach, several years that had below or near-average activity in the Atlantic had similar conditions to what's existed so far in 2014, including 1957, 1963, 1965, 1997 and 2002.

Those five seasons along with 1951, 1968, 1976 and 1982 were cited in the The Weather Channel hurricane season forecast as years where sea-surface temperatures (SSTs) in the El Niño zone matched what is currently forecast. Those nine years combined averaged 11 named storms, 4-5 hurricanes and 1-2 major hurricanes.

Worth noting is that eight of those nine years had a hurricane over the Gulf of Mexico and four of them reached Category 3 or higher status in the Gulf.

Also, despite development of a weak El Niño, Hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne raked parts of Florida during the 2004 Atlantic hurricane season. 

In short, the exact role El Niño may play on the season remains uncertain. Where the warming of the equatorial Pacific waters takes place and the magnitude of that warming plays at least a partial role in the number of Atlantic named storms, as explained by storm analyst Carl Parker in the video at right.

History Shows Why You Must Prepare Every Season

The 1992 season included four hurricanes and one U.S. landfall, Category 5 Hurricane Andrew.

The 2010 hurricane season included 12 hurricanes but no U.S. landfalls.

A couple of classic examples why you need to be prepare each year occurred in 1992 and 1983.

The 1992 season produced only six named storms and one subtropical storm. However, one of those named storms was Hurricane Andrew, which devastated South Florida as a Category 5 hurricane.

In 1983 there were only four named storms, but one of them was Alicia. The Category 3 hurricane hit the Houston-Galveston area and caused almost as many direct fatalities there as Andrew did in South Florida.

(MORE: Alicia is One of Six Sudden Surprise Spinups)

In contrast, the 2010 season was active. There were 19 named storms and 12 hurricanes that formed in the Atlantic Basin.

Despite the large number of storms that year, not a single hurricane and only one tropical storm made landfall in the United States.

Some U.S. impacts did occur. Four of the cyclones brought tropical storm conditions to some part of the country. However, most of the damage and, in many cases, casualties occurred in other countries.

(MORE: Prepare for Hurricane Season)

MORE: Deadliest Hurricanes in History

1900 Galveston Hurricane: Deadliest on Record

1900 Galveston Hurricane: Deadliest on Record

Credit: Library of Congress

  • 1900 Galveston Hurricane: Deadliest on Record
  • 1900 Galveston Hurricane: Deadliest on Record
  • 1900 Galveston Hurricane: Deadliest Hurricane
  • 1900 Galveston Hurricane: Deadliest on Record
  • 1900 Galveston Hurricane: Deadliest on Record
  • 1900 Galveston Hurricane: Deadliest on Record
  • 1900 Galveston Hurricane: Deadliest on Record
  • 1900 Galveston Hurricane: Deadliest on Record
  • 1928 Lake Okeechobee Hurricane: 2nd Deadliest
  • 1928 Lake Okeechobee Hurricane: 2nd Deadliest
  • 1928 Lake Okeechobee Hurricane: 2nd Deadliest
  • 1928 Lake Okeechobee Hurricane: 2nd Deadliest
  • 1928 Lake Okeechobee Hurricane: 2nd Deadliest
  • 1928 Lake Okeechobee Hurricane: 2nd Deadliest
  • 1928 Lake Okeechobee Hurricane: 2nd Deadliest
  • 1928 Lake Okeechobee Hurricane: 2nd Deadliest
  • Hurricane Katrina (2005): 3rd Deadliest
  • Hurricane Katrina (2005): 3rd Deadliest
  • Hurricane Katrina (2005): 3rd Deadliest
  • Hurricane Katrina (2005): 3rd Deadliest
  • 1893 Cheniere Caminanda Hurriance: 4th Deadliest
  • 1893 Sea Islands Hurricane: 5th Deadliest

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