Forecasters predict 14-storm season

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 13, 2016

One hurricane prediction center has issued a slightly higher than normal hurricane season prediction.

AccuWeather recently issued a forecast that would include a total of 14 Atlantic storms, two more than what is considered normal.

The prediction includes eight hurricanes, including four major hurricanes and three U.S. named storm landfalls.

Forecasters say the potential movement of a “cold blob” of water in the North Atlantic Ocean may be a wild card in the season. The cold blob refers to a large, anomalous area of colder-than-normal sea-surface temperatures, located east of Newfoundland and south of Greenland.

“This area of colder water started to show up a few years ago and has become larger and more persistent during the past couple of year,” AccuWeather Atlantic Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski said.

Kottlowski said that whether or not ocean currents draw cold water from the blob southward into tropical regions of the Atlantic could determine how active the season becomes.

If the cooler water migrates southward across the eastern Atlantic, then westward into tropical breeding grounds, it will lower sea-surface temperatures over the region where 85 percent of Atlantic tropical systems develop, he said.

If this happens, the pattern of warming waters that has occurred since 1995 would reverse, and there would be a period of cooling.

If either of those two scenarios come to fruition it has the potential to limit tropical development in the Atlantic.

On the other hand, if that doesn’t happen and temperatures remain warmer, the season could be more active than the past three years.

“The big question is whether we will go into a La Nina, which is what we’re anticipating right now,” Kottlowski said. “Historically, some hurricane seasons that have followed a transition from El Nino to La Nina have been very active. It’s possible we could flip from one extreme to the other from below-normal seasons the past three years to an above-normal season in 2016.”