HURRICANE CENTRAL - This year oceanic and atmospheric conditions in the Atlantic basin are expected to produce more hurricanes and those storms are expected to be stronger.
First, we are experiencing warmer-than-average water temperatures in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea. Since January, sea surface temperature anomalies have suggested a warmer-than-average water temperature by about one degree Fahrenheit across the tropical Atlantic. Above normal tropical activity usually occurs when water temperatures are above normal. The heat of the water provides the energy these tropical storms need to build. Hurricanes rely on warm seawater to release heat into the upper atmosphere and create spiraling winds. Any additional energy can result in increased intensity.
Second, we are experiencing lower-than-average sea level pressures in the Atlantic basin.
Third, El Niño is not expected to develop this year.
Hurricane formation requires the winds to be fairly uniform throughout the atmosphere, meaning that they require low vertical wind shear. An El Niño creates higher vertical wind shear in the Atlantic basin which suppresses hurricane formation.
We are currently in a neutral season, which means neither El Niño or La Niña are present.
From 1970 to 2008, the number of storms during an El Niño summer decreases drastically from that of a neutral summer. During a neutral season the number of direct hits by hurricanes to the United States are above average. However, strong storms have formed and have impacted the U.S. during El Niño, neutral, and La Niña years. Remember, it only takes one storm to make it an active season here in Southwest Florida.