5 June 2019News

CSU hurricane researchers predict 14 named storms for 2019

This year’s Atlantic hurricane season will see 14 named storms, according to researchers at Colorado State University (CSU).

The CSU Tropical Meteorology Project team predicts there will be 13 additional named storms during the Atlantic hurricane season, running from June 1 to November 30, in addition to Andrea, which happened in May.

Six of these storms are expected to become hurricanes, with two forecast to reach Saffir/Simpson category 3 or higher – meaning sustained wind speeds of at least 111 miles per hour – qualifying them as major hurricanes.

The researchers predict 2019 will see around 95 percent of the average activity for Atlantic hurricanes, a slight increase on the initial forecast in April, since tropical Atlantic sea surface temperatures have warmed up slightly faster than normal since then.

By contrast, 2018 hurricane activity was 125 percent of the average, with Hurricanes Florence and Michael in particular devastating the Carolinas and portions of the Florida Panhandle, respectively.

Researchers also said there is a 54 percent probability that a major hurricane will affect the US coastline, or 32 percent that it will make the US East Coast. The chance of a major hurricane making landfall over the Caribbean is 44 percent.

However, US property/casualty insurers are well placed to weather the landfall of a significant storm in the 2019 hurricane season, despite experiencing elevated catastrophe losses in recent years, according to Fitch Ratings.

Fitch expects traditional reinsurance capital to remain strong in 2019 as the sector has demonstrated resilience in the face of significantly higher catastrophe losses in 2017 and 2018, partly as a result of the growth of alternative capital in the sector.

CSU forecasts are based on two models, one of them statistical and the other using a combination of statistics and forecasts from a dynamical model. Both models rely on around 40 years of historical data, and evaluate a range of conditions, including: Atlantic sea surface temperatures; sea level pressures; vertical wind shear levels (the change in wind direction and speed with height in the atmosphere); El Niño (warming of waters in the central and eastern tropical Pacific); and other factors.

So far the 2019 hurricane season is exhibiting characteristics similar to 1990, 1991, 2012, 2014 and 2018, said the researchers.

Phil Klotzbach, research scientist in the Department of Atmospheric Science, said: “1991 and 2014 had below-average Atlantic hurricane activity, 1990 had near-average hurricane activity, and 2012 and 2018 had above-average Atlantic hurricane activity.”

This is the 36th year that the CSU hurricane research team has issued their Atlantic basin seasonal hurricane forecast. The team will issue forecast updates on July 9 and August 5.