NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center is predicting that a near-normal Atlantic hurricane season is most likely this year. The outlook forecasts a 40 percent chance of a near-normal season and a 30 percent chance of an above-normal season. The hurricane season officially extends from June 1 to November 30.
For 2019, NOAA predicts a likely range of nine to 15 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which four to eight could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including two to four major hurricanes (category 3, 4 or 5; with winds of 111 mph or higher). An average hurricane season produces 12 named storms, of which six become hurricanes, including three major hurricanes.
This outlook reflects competing climate factors. The ongoing El Nino is expected to persist and suppress the intensity of the hurricane season. Countering El Nino is the expected combination of warmer-than-average sea-surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, and an enhanced west African monsoon, both of which favor increased hurricane activity.
The 2019 hurricane season marks the first time NOAA’s fleet of Earth-observing satellites includes three operational next-generation satellites. NOAA’s National Weather Service is making a planned upgrade to its Global Forecast System (GFS) flagship weather model – often called the American model – early in the 2019 hurricane season. This marks the first major upgrade to the dynamical core of the model in almost 40 years and will improve tropical cyclone track and intensity forecasts.
NOAA’s National Hurricane Center and NWS office in San Juan will expand the coastal storm surge watches and warnings in 2019 to include Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. In addition, National Hurricane Center will display excessive rainfall outlooks on its website, providing greater visibility of one of the most dangerous inland threats from hurricanes.
Also, this season, NOAA’s Hurricane Hunter aircraft will collect higher-resolution data from upgraded onboard radar systems. These enhanced observations will be transmitted in near-real time to hurricane specialists at the National Hurricane Center, the Central Pacific Hurricane Center and forecasters at NWS Weather Forecast Offices.
In addition to the Atlantic hurricane season outlook, NOAA also issued seasonal hurricane outlooks for the eastern and central Pacific basins. A 70 percent chance of an above-normal season is predicted for both the eastern and central Pacific regions.