Preview of the 2012 Atlantic Hurricane Season

Ahead of the National Hurricane Conference in Orlando next week, Colorado State University’s Tropical Meteorology Project has issued a brief update of the atmospheric/oceanic conditions likely to impact the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season.

The key takeaway, in the words of the CSU team:

The combination of a warming tropical Pacific and a cooling tropical Atlantic are leading us to think that the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season will have less activity than the average 1981-2010 season.†

Despite its forecast for lower activity, the CSU team stresses that there is inherent uncertainty in seasonal tropical cyclone (TC) prediction and that hurricanes can make landfall in inactive seasons and do major damage (e.g. Hurricane Alicia in 1983 and Andrew in 1992).

Their recommendation:

Coastal residents need to prepare the same for every hurricane season.†

The CSU team presents four possible scenarios for the season ahead, based on the strength of the Atlantic thermohaline circulation (THC) and the phase of El Nià ±o – Southern Oscillation (ENSO):

– A 45 percent chance that the THC continues in the above-average condition it has been in since 1995 and a significant El Nià ±o develops resulting in a seasonal average net tropical cyclone (NTC) activity of 85, suggesting 8-11 named storms, 4-6 hurricanes, 1-2 major hurricanes.

– A 25 percent chance of a continuing above-average THC and no El Nià ±o develops, resulting in NTC activity of 130, with 12-15 named storms, 6-9 hurricanes, 3-4 major hurricanes.

– A 25 percent chance that the THC becomes weaker and a significant El Nià ±o develops, resulting in NTC activity of 50, with 5-7 named storms, 2-4 hurricanes, 0-1 major hurricanes.

– A 5 percent chance that THC becomes unusually strong in 2012 and no El Nià ±o develops resulting in NTC activity of 180, with 14-17 named storms, 9-11 hurricanes, 4-5 major hurricanes.

AÂ  full discussion of the CSU team’s 2012 Atlantic basin hurricane forecast will follow on April 4.

Meanwhile, check out I.I.I. facts and statistics on hurricanes.

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