AccuWeather.com, a private weather forecasting organization, has released its predictions for this year's impending hurricane season. The good news? Half as many tropical storms in the Atlantic as last year are expected to slam U.S. shores this year. The bad news? That’s still four tempests making landfall between June 1 and November 30, the annual Atlantic hurricane season.
The projected dip stems from, among other factors, a weak El Nino weather pattern this year caused by warmer water temps in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean, Joe Bastardi, AccuWeather's chief long range and hurricane forecaster, told Reuters.
Bastardi’s predictions and other hurricane outlooks can influence prices on the energy market, especially in regard to Gulf Coast storms such as Katrina, Rita, and Ike (three of the biggest storms to roll through the region in recent years). That's because offshore oil and gas production in the Gulf region account for 25 and 15 percent of U.S. domestic output, respectively, Reuters reports, and 43 percent of U.S. oil refining capacity is in states ringing the Gulf.
In total, Bastardi predicts that 13 named storms – those that reach tropical storm status with 63 mile-per-hour (101 kilometer-per-hour) sustained wind speeds – will roil the Atlantic this year. Of that, eight will cross the 74 mile- (199 kilometer-) per-hour threshold and become full-fledged hurricanes. Two of those are expected to be major storms of Category 3 or above on the Saffir-Simpson Scale, meaning sustained winds of at least 111 miles (179 kilometers) per hour.
Wondering what monikers this year’s slew of storms will be given? Not sure. But names you won't hear this year or any other include those originally bestowed on hurricanes that ended up causing widespread damage. (Think: Katrina and Rita – but not Ike, at least not yet.) Others on the list of retired names kept by the World Meteorological Organization: Floyd (set aside in 1999); the trio of 2007 storms, Dean, Felix, Noel; Hattie (retired in 1961); Fifi (hung up in 1974); and Roxanne (1995).
Also off limits: Ivan, which was stripped from the storm names list after a destructive 2004 hurricane with that appellation. Perhaps that's for the best: After all, according to recent study published in Social Science Quarterly, Ivan is associated with an increased likelihood of juvenile delinquency.
A hurricane swirls in the Gulf of Mexico. Image Credit: NASA