Predictions for the 2007 Atlantic hurricane season are calling for an 85 percent chance of an “above normal” season according to NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center in Camp Springs, Md. The center predicts 13 to 16 named storms, of which 3 to 5 could easily become Category 3 or higher strength hurricanes (on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale).
Two of the key factors lending confidence to the scientists’ predictions are the development of El Nino-like conditions and warmer than normal sea surface temperatures, according to Gerry Bell, Ph.D, lead forecaster at the Climate Prediction Center. “Today’s El Nino/La Nina forecast from the Climate Prediction Center indicates a slightly greater than 50 percent probability that La Nina will form during the peak of the hurricane season. But more importantly, we are already observing wind patterns similar to those created by La Nina across the tropical Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea that encourage tropical cyclone development. The conditions are ripe for an above normal [Atlantic hurricane] season,” Bell said.
So far this year there have already been three Atlantic named storms, Andrea, Barry and Chantal, which is above average. The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30.
This above normal activity is consistent with forecasters’ view of the phenomenon as a multi-decadal signal borne out by a stronger West African monsoon system, below average convection in the Amazon Basin, and warmer than average sea surface temperature in the tropical Atlantic and Caribbean Sea.