The 2015 Atlantic Hurricane Season will be slightly below normal, according to WeatherBug’s Meteorology Team. And El Niño is the driving force for the expected lower tropical activity.
The forecast calls for 7 to 10 named storms developing this year in the Atlantic Hurricane Basin. The Basin consists of the Atlantic north of the equator, Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico. A tropical storm is named when a tropical system with a closed circulation has sustained winds exceeding 39 mph. Of those named systems, 3 to 5 hurricanes with sustained winds exceeding 74 mph are predicted; with one or two of these hurricanes reaching major hurricane status of sustained winds exceeded 110 mph.
Driving the forecast is the developing El Niño pattern. El Niño, an above-normal ocean water temperature pattern stretching along the Pacific equator waters west of South America, occurs every 5 to 8 years and affects global weather patterns.
“El Niño — the abnormal warming of the Pacific Ocean near the equator — is occurring and all expectations are for it to continue and possibly intensify through the summer. As El Niño tends to inhibit tropical development in the Atlantic, it is a key factor for our forecast for the 2015 season and the reason behind our below-normal tropical storm prediction,” says WeatherBug Senior Meteorologist John Bateman.
While NOAA designates June 1 through November 30 as the “official” hurricane season, storms do form outside those dates. The Atlantic hurricane season got off to an early start this year. Tropical Storm Ana formed on May 7 before making landfall on the South Carolina coast near Myrtle Beach.