What's the Weather? CSU's 2017 Hurricane Prediction | Direct Energy Blog

What’s the Weather? CSU’s 2017 Hurricane Prediction

Hurricanes are among the most powerful weather systems on Earth. The 2017 Atlantic season begins on June 1.

Possibly the biggest factor effecting your electric bill is the weather. It not only directly influences how much you use to heat or cool your home but also effects the demand, supply, and ultimately the price of energy on the wholesale markets. In our What’s the Weather? series, we’ll track weather forecasts and events to see how they impact your energy bills and how that information can help you save.

Colorado Releases 2017 Hurricane Prediction

The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30. Each year, the Tropical Meteorology Project at Colorado State University is the first to releases its annual hurricane forecast, usually a month ahead of NOAA and other storm forecasting services. This year’s forecast, released April 6, does not hold anything really surprising in store. Similar to recent year’s past, this year’s hurricane season is expected to be below-average.

Hurricane Predictions, 2017

CSU Prediction Seasonal Average,
1981-2010
Named storms
(winds 39 mph+)
11 12
Hurricanes
(winds 74 mph+)
4 6
Category 3, 4 or 5 hurricanes
(winds 111 mph+)
2 2

Tropical storms and hurricanes are fueled by convection and heat . The reasoning behind the forecast is that there’s currently not quite as much heat in the Atlantic and Caribbean as there is in average years. CSU states that both the North Atlantic and tropical waters off the coast of west Africa have shown “significant cooling” due to strong northeast trade winds causing evaporation of warm water and upwelling of cooler deep water. Without a steady supply of warm water, tropical storms and hurricanes are unable to form.

Meanwhile, there is the potential for a lot of heat building in the Pacific Ocean and creating an El Niño weather phenomena.

Equatorial sea surface temperatures (SSTs) have been on the rise in the Pacific area known to meteorologists as the El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) region and covers some 8,300 miles of ocean. While SSTs were only somewhat cooler than average from December to January, they began warming in February to average. Since then, SSTs have continued warming. Average SSTs in the Niño 3.4 zone (mid Pacific) are roughly 80°F (27° C). As that water in the ENSO region absorbs more heat, it warms the atmosphere and effects air circulation globally — and that includes creating vertical wind shears in the Caribbean out to the mid Atlantic that can disrupt storm formation and organization. But that depends on how strong the El Niño is.

Conditions & Expectations

In the Pacific, current conditions in the ENSO region are in “neutral” meaning that SSTs are above average but have not yet gotten warm enough to begin exerting El Niño effects on the atmosphere. NOAA researchers believe that an El Niño may emerge by autumn and last through the winter but at the moment, they’re expecting it to be weak. Things could change, though.

While CSU’s prediction is based on Atlantic SSTs being cooler, they also pointed out that there is “considerable uncertainty” over how long this could persist. With spring and summer temperatures in the US expected to be above average stretching in an arch from the southwest to New England, it’s likely the Caribbean and Gulf Stream will warm as well. But as to the equatorial waters between the Caribbean and the west coast of Africa (known by hurricane wonks as the Main Development Region), it might be too early to be totally certain. CSU does predict a 42% chance that at least one major hurricane (category 3, 4, or 5) will make landfall in the US. Given storm paths during last year’s below average season, it suggests that half of the season’s storms have the chance never to make land at all. Still, it only takes one hurricane to cause a disaster.

NOAA will release it 2017 hurricane season forecast at the end of May. In the meantime, NOAA has released the storm names for the up coming season.

Get Prepped Now!
Though the season hasn’t even begun, it’s important to stay informed and be ready. Be on the lookout for more posts about the 2017 Hurricane Season in the coming weeks and months. During hurricane season, keep an eye out for our hurricane posts to stay informed with useful resources and updates about storm activity. Follow Direct Energy on Twitter and Facebook for information about any storms coming to your area.

About 

Vernon Trollinger is a writer with a background in home improvement, electronics, fiction writing, and archaeology. He now writes about green energy technology, home energy efficiency, the natural gas industry, and the electrical grid.