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El Niño could lead to below-average hurricane season

Hurricane Ian is pictured from the International Space Station as it orbited 258 miles above the Caribbean Sea east of Belize.
NASA
Hurricane Ian is pictured from the International Space Station as it orbited 258 miles above the Caribbean Sea east of Belize.

With less than two months until the start of the Atlantic hurricane season, experts at Colorado State University are predicting slightly fewer storms this year.

CSU hurricane expert Phil Klotzbach issued theAtlantic season hurricane forecast in its 40th year, predicting 13 named storms and six hurricanes, including 2 major ones.

That compares to a 20-year average of 14.4 storms, 7.2 hurricanes and 3.2 major hurricanes.

Klotzbach says El Niño is expected this summer and fall -- that's warmer water in the tropical Pacific. It sends upper-level winds from the west that tear hurricanes apart.

On the other hand, warmer water forecast for the central and eastern Atlantic favors an above-average season. These mixed signals, as it were, make this year's forecast more uncertain than usual.

"[T]here's uncertainty with the forecast," Klotzbach said Thursday during the National Tropical Weather Conference. "But also, too, with preparedness we need to prepare the same every hurricane season because, obviously, even in an overall quiet season you can still have one or more nasty landfalls that obviously cause significant impacts."

CSU's forecast includes a 22% chance of a major storm hitting the U.S. East Coast or Florida peninsula, and a 28% chance on the Gulf Coast from the Panhandle west.

The hurricane season begins June 1 and continues through Nov. 30.

Joe Byrnes came to WMFE/WMFV from the Ocala Star-Banner and The Gainesville Sun, where he worked as a reporter and editor for several years. Joe graduated from Loyola University in New Orleans and turned to journalism after teaching. He enjoys freshwater fishing and family gatherings.
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