A day after leading hurricane experts at CSU unveiled their own updated outlook for the season which is calling for a near-record breaking number of potent tropical cyclones, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released their own update, echoing the concern for trouble in the weeks and months ahead.
The updated NOAA outlook calls for 19-25 named storms (winds of 39 mph or greater), of which 7-11 will become hurricanes, including 3-6 major hurricanes (winds of 111 mph or greater). This update covers the entire six-month hurricane season, which ends November 30, and includes the nine named storms to date.
“This is one of the most active seasonal forecasts that NOAA has produced in its 22-year history of hurricane outlooks. NOAA will continue to provide the best possible science and service to communities across the Nation for the remainder of hurricane season to ensure public readiness and safety,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “We encourage all Americans to do their part by getting prepared, remaining vigilant, and being ready to take action when necessary.”
Dr. Louis Uccellini, Director of the National Weather Service, stressed the increased confidence in the increased activity, saying the updated outlook boosts the earlier busy projection from 60% to 85% higher potential for there to be an “extremely active season.”
An extremely active season is one that features an ACE index greater than 165; the current forecast range suggests a seasonal ACE rating of 140-230. “ACE” is short for the Accumulated Cyclone Energy index, a measure of overall cyclone activity NOAA uses to quantify the energy in storms. The ACE index is essentially a wind energy index, defined as the sum of the squares of the estimated 6-hourly maximum sustained wind speed for all named systems while they are at least tropical storm strength.
Dr. Uccellini told reporters in a media briefing today, “This will be the third active season we’ve had since 2005.”
“This year, we expect more, stronger, and longer-lived storms than average, and our predicted ACE range extends well above NOAA’s threshold for an extremely active season,” said Gerry Bell, Ph.D., lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.
In a graphic showcased by the Corpus Christi, Texas National Weather Service Office yesterday, much of the U.S. coastline has already been under a tropical storm or hurricane watch or warning to date, with threats from Arthur, Bertha, Cristobal, Fay, Hanna, and Isaias to date. Hawaii was also under advisories for Douglas. With an already active season to date, and ongoing other troubles facing the United States such as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, there’s a concern of “disaster fatigue.”
“Repetitiveness of storms becomes an issue, ” says Dr. Uccellini. We asked the National Weather Service Director for his thoughts on disaster fatigue and what they’re doing to keep people informed and safe. “We need to be persistent in our messaging. It’s really important that communities don’t let their guard down.” Dr. Uccellini also said this is a “whole community effort, not just the National Weather Service, but one that involves the whole weather enterprise.” Dr. Uccellini says players across the weather enterprise need to rally around a consistent message to “ensure communities don’t let their guards down.” Even with multiple disasters impacting the United States, Dr. Uccellini said it’s important that everyone “be ready and responsive” for what lies ahead.
NOAA’s hurricane season outlook is for overall seasonal activity and is not a landfall forecast. Landfalls are largely determined by short-term weather patterns, which are only predictable within about a week of a storm potentially reaching a coastline.
Dr. Phil Klotzbach, who led yesterday’s CSU outlook conversation, said, “Coastal residents are reminded that it only takes one hurricane making landfall to make it an active season for them, and they need to prepare the same for every season, regardless of how much activity is predicted.”
“NOAA has the most highly trained and dedicated forecasters that serve to protect American lives and property. With improved forecast skill, new storm surge products, and new observations, such as GPS Radio Occultation, we are better positioned than ever before to keep Americans out of harm’s way,” said Neil Jacobs, Ph.D., acting NOAA administrator. “It is now more important than ever to stay informed with our forecasts, have a preparedness plan, and heed guidance from local emergency management officials.”
With many more tropical storms and hurricanes in the outlook for the weeks ahead, experts say it’s imperative people have a Hurricane Action Plan in place …and update or refresh it if they’ve already been impacted by a storm this season.