For the second year in a row a tropical storm formed well in advance of the official June 1st start of the hurricane season, with Tropical Storm Arlene forming on April 19th. Does this mean we should expect a higher-than-usual level of tropical storm activity?
According to Schneider Electric’s Chief Consulting Meteorologist Jeff Johnson, tropical storm and hurricane activity levels this year may be near average, but the impacts could be more significant than comparable years in the past.
According to the 2017 Hurricane Season Outlook:
Expect an average number of storms
The average annual number of storms for the past 20 years includes 15 named storms, 7 hurricanes and 3 major hurricanes – numbers which vary from year to year due to factors like Atlantic Ocean water temperatures, the amount of moisture and instability in the tropical atmosphere and the frequency of thunderstorm complexes forming in Africa seeding tropical storm development. Examination of these factors for 2017 leads us to believe that total storm numbers for this year will be close to the recent 20 year average values.
Landfall risk is higher than normal
Storm tracks and U.S. landfall risks vary with upper wind patterns. These can change on a daily to weekly basis, making longer term projections quite difficult. Even though we are expecting a near normal season for the total number of storms in the Atlantic basin, it does appear that the U.S. will experience a higher-than-average landfall risk, due to more favorable conditions in the Gulf of Mexico and along the East Coast. The tracks of the individual storms that form this year will be dependent on the upper-level steering winds at the time of the storm’s existence, and those steering currents are difficult to predict on a seasonal basis.
Potential for greater damage
A recent decline in impacts with both lower hurricane and especially major hurricane landfalls might generate a false sense of security or diminished risk. In addition, during this recent period of reduced U.S. activity, population, infrastructure and personal wealth has continued to build up in vulnerable coastal areas. It can be expected that the next major storm that makes landfall will exact a higher cost than a similar storm did in years/decades past.
Get the full outlook
Please let us know if you are interested in receiving the full 2017 Hurricane Season Outlook from Schneider Electic’s Chief Consulting Meteorologist Jeff Johnson. Jeff is also available to provide deeper analysis of the hurricane season, and can serve as an expert for news stories you may be working on now or throughout the severe weather season.