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Year's first Atlantic hurricane forecast calls for busier season

Year's first Atlantic hurricane forecast calls for busier season

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2016 Atlantic hurricane season names

The names that will be used during the 2016 Atlantic hurricane season.  An average season is expected in terms of overall numbers, but one busier than last year.

If this year’s hurricane outlook is correct, we’ll get to Matthew.

It will be busier than last year.

And there’s a 50 percent chance of a major hurricane making landfall in the United States, something that hasn’t happened since 2005.

Hurricane season doesn’t begin until June 1, but the first hurricane outlook was issued by forecasters at Colorado State University on Thursday.

Long-term forecasts are issued in April and May to let coastal residents know what type of season may lie ahead and to raise awareness for the upcoming season.

Forecasters at CSU began issuing hurricane outlooks in 1984 and are considered the pioneers of the science.

Phil Klotzbach, who leads the forecasting team, is calling for an average season in terms of the overall number of storms. The forecast calls for 12 named storms, five hurricanes, and two major hurricanes, which are Category Three or greater.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issues its forecast in May.

This year’s list of names starts with Alex and ends with Walter. The name Alex was already used earlier this year for an extremely rare January hurricane. So Bonnie will be the first name used this summer. Matthew is the 12th name on the list.

While near normal in number, 2016 promises to be a more tropically active one compared to 2015, according to Klotzbach.

Last year’s El Nino, characterized by warm waters in the Pacific Ocean, caused unfavorable conditions in the Atlantic, and a quiet year overall. No hurricanes hit the United States.

“El Nino’s demise is one of the factors in developing an outlook for a more active season this year,” Klotzbach said.

South Jersey meteorologist Jim Eberwine thinks that the attention that these early forecasts bring is positive.

“No matter what type of season is being predicted, it gets people thinking and raises the awareness level early on, which is beneficial,” said Eberwine. He added the increased awareness is especially important now that we’ve had recent examples of what hurricanes can do in South Jersey, referencing Irene and Sandy.

Forecasters predict a La Nina may develop in the Pacific this year. Opposite of an El Nino, a La Nina actually helps tropical development in the Atlantic.

Eberwine also noted the warmer-than-average water off the East Coast and in the Gulf of Mexico.

“Twelve storms is only an average year, but where they develop and track is more important than the number,” cautioned Eberwine, who said more than half the storms could develop closer to the United States this year.

The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 through Nov. 30, usually peaking in September.

Contact: 609-272-7247

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