Possibly the biggest factor affecting your electric bill is the weather. It not only directly influences how much you use to heat or cool your home but also affects 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.
The 2017 Hurricane Season Forecasts
The Atlantic Hurricane Season runs from June 1 through November 30. Each year in late May, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center releases its annual hurricane forecast for the Atlantic/Caribbean basin. Other weather organizations such as the Weather Company (formerly Weather Services International), Tropical Storm Risk (TSR) of the Dept. of Space and Climate Physics, University College London, and the Tropical Meteorology Project at Colorado State University also release their predictions as summer starts cranking up.
This year, the general consensus points to a more active season that last year. The chief reasons behind this conclusion are the slow developing of an expected late summer El Niño, lower possibility of vertical wind shears in the main development area, and lots of warm water in the Atlantic. So here’s how all four forecasts compare:
|NOAA Prediction||CSU Prediction||Weather Co Prediction||TSR Prediction||Seasonal Average, 1981-2010|
|Number of named storms
(winds 39 mph+)
(winds 74 mph+)
(Cat. 3, 4 or 5, winds 111 mph+)
There are three organizations calling for an active hurricane season: NOAA, the Weather Company, and Tropical Storm Risk (TSR). All three base their forecasts on what’s going on with the El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and what’s happening in the Atlantic ocean.
Back in April, ENSO looked like it was going to develop by late summer. But since that time, sea surface temperatures didn’t warm as much as expected and it now looks like they may stay in a neutral range for several months. Currently, it seems likely that ENSO will stay in neutral mode throughout the summer. Without an El Niño to stir the atmosphere and cause wind shear in the Main Development Region (MDR), Atlantic hurricanes will have a much easier time forming and developing. All they need is lots of warm water.
Sea surface temperatures are above normal in the MDR. That means hurricanes that get their start in the warm waters off west Africa can look forward to a warm, tropical cruise through the MDR. Without wind shear, it’s likely they’ll be more likely to gather a lot of strength as they head for the Caribbean.
While CSU’s updated prediction shows only slight differences from the others, they are predicting that 2017 “will have approximately average activity”. Their reasoning is that while sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic are above normal, the northern Atlantic is still below normal. Indeed, SSTs for June 1 do show colder water beginning just north of Cape Hatteras and even colder water infiltrating into the east end of Long Island. But will it last long enough to deflect Caribbean storms back out into the mid-Atlantic? Only time will tell. All the same, that cold water could be indicative of the status of the Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation (AMO). During warmer periods in the north Atlantic, there is above-normal hurricane activity. During cooler periods, there is generally below-normal hurricane activity. Since the AMO lasts 25-40 years, there’s not much certainty about what it’s doing and whether the high-activity period that began in 1995 is ending, has ended, or is yet ongoing.
Regardless of how many storms are predicted, it only takes one storm to cause a tragedy.
Hurricanes not only impact coastal communities but can also devastate inland cities and towns as well. Make sure you and your family are prepared and have a plan. Be sure to check out NOAA’s National Hurricane Preparedness Week suggestions as well as these other helpful storm resources.
Plus, check out the great information and storm updates at the Hurricane Prep Center