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2015 hurricane season could be quietest for 30 years

Hurricane Gonzalo as it approached Bermuda last year. Source: NASA

Hurricane Gonzalo as it approached Bermuda last year. Source: NASA

Monday, April 20, 2015, 14:00 GMT -

The 2015 Atlantic hurricane season doesn’t start until June, but early forecasts suggest this year could be one the quietest on record.

Preliminary forecasts from universities in the UK and the US all point to the Atlantic having below average storm activity this year, with some forecasts suggesting there could be near-record breaking low activity.

North Carolina State University (NCSU) released their early forecast on 13 April, suggesting that between 4-6 names storms are expected to form with only 1-3 of these storms forming into hurricanes.

Meanwhile, Colorado State University (CSU) expects around 7 named storms and 3 hurricanes this year.

These early forecasts suggest tropical storm and hurricane activity will be around half of the long-term average and if they are true, 2015 could be the quietest hurricane season for over 30 years.

In a typical hurricane season, 12 named storms develop, with around 6 of these forming into hurricanes. 

Another hurricane forecast from Tropical Storm Risk at University College London, has activity closer to average, although they still expect a quiet season.

The low hurricane activity forecasts this year in the North Atlantic are down to the expected continuation of El Nino conditions in the central Pacific.

The warming of the surface of the central Pacific during an El Nino event has knock-on effects in the atmosphere across the tropical Atlantic, leading to unfavourable conditions for tropical storm development.

Also, sea surface temperatures in the eastern tropical Atlantic (off the west coast of Africa where many Atlantic hurricanes are born) are cooler than normal, reducing the amount of energy available for storms to develop.

1983 was the least active year in modern times, when only 4 named storms and 3 hurricanes developed in the Atlantic and coincided with a strong El Nino event.

Although the number of hurricanes is expected to be low this year, it only takes one major storm to hit a populated area to cause widespread death and losses.

During 1983 the only major hurricane of the year, hurricane Alicia, killed over 20 people and caused $2 billion in damage when it hit Texas and Louisiana.

Last year was also a quiet season with only 8 named storms and 6 hurricanes.

Despite this, Bermuda was hit twice by two powerful with the strongest, hurricane Gonzalo, causing widespread damage across the island.

The remnants of two hurricanes, Bertha and Gonzalo, also brought unseasonably strong winds and heavy rain to parts of the UK in August and October.

While it isn't unusual for ex-hurricanes to bring wet and windy weather to the UK, it is rare for it to happen more than once in one year, particularly during a fairly quiet season such as 2014.

Only time will tell whether 2015 is one of the quietest Atlantic hurricane seasons on record.

Source: Tropical Storm Risk | North Carolina State University | Colorado State University

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