NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Thursday marks the official beginning to the 2017 Hurricane Season for the Atlantic Basin. This includes the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean Sea. Each season is different, but there are signs on how it can pan out.
In an “average” season which runs from June 1st to November 30th, 12 Tropical Storms form, 6 strengthen into Hurricanes, and 3 to Major Hurricanes (category 3 or stronger). NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) released their forecast. An average to slightly busy year could be coming up.
The reason for this forecast comes in reference to what is happening in the Pacific Ocean. Yes, the Pacific, not the Atlantic. Our old friends El Nino and La Nina play a huge role. During an El Nino (warmer waters in the Pacific) our Hurricane season is typically quieter. Strong wind shear blows over the Atlantic which in turn is not conducive for development of these massive storms. Tropical Storms and Hurricanes need calm winds in the upper levels to develops. On the flip side, La Nina (cooler than average water in the Pacific) slows down the wind shear and typically the Atlantic basin is like I-24 during the morning commute, a traffic jam.
Right now, we are in between, or a neutral pattern. El Nino nor La Nina is ongoing. Based on this, we can call for an average year, but with waters in the Atlantic warmer than average, NOAA has called for a slightly busier season. However, if an El Nino develops this summer, we may not see much activity.
Once a storm gets it act together and strengthens with 39+ mph sustained winds with a closed circulation, it will be named. Arlene kicked off in April as a Tropical Storm and the rest of the list goes as follows.
Keep in mind, no matter the forecast or how many storms develop, it only takes one to create catastrophic destruction. In 1992, the first named storm formed in August, that’s late. The name was Andrew and we all know what happened to Florida that year, one of the worst natural disasters to ever hit the United States. That entire year, only 7 storms were named.
Back in 2010, there were 19 names storms, that’s a lot. Zero hurricanes hit the U.S. that year.
Middle Tennessee and Southern Kentucky are blocked from the worst because we don’t have a coastline. However, flooding rain and tornadoes can still affect our region past landfall.