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For re/insurers grappling for levers for a potential turn in the market, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has issued further cause for gloom, predicting a below average Atlantic hurricane season.
The main driver of this year’s outlook is the anticipated development of El Nino this summer, which will likely reduce the number and intensity of tropical storms and hurricanes.
The outlook calls for a 50 percent chance of a below-average season, a 40 percent chance of a near-normal season, and only a 10 percent chance of an above-average season.
For the six-month hurricane season, which officially begins on June 1, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts a 70 percent likelihood of eight to 13 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which three to six could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 1 to 2 major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of 111 mph or higher).
These numbers are near or below the seasonal averages of 12 named storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes, based on the average from 1981 to 2010.
The Atlantic hurricane region includes the North Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico.
“Thanks to the environmental intelligence from NOAA’s network of earth observations, our scientists and meteorologists can provide life-saving products like our new storm surge threat map and our hurricane forecasts,” says Kathryn Sullivan, NOAA administrator.
“And even though we expect El Niño to suppress the number of storms this season, it’s important to remember it takes only one land falling storm to cause a disaster.”
Gerry Bell, lead seasonal hurricane forecaster with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, says the Atlantic, which has seen above-normal seasons in 12 of the last 20 years, has been in an era of high activity for hurricanes since 1995. However, this high-activity pattern is expected to be offset in 2014 by the impacts of El Niño, and by cooler Atlantic Ocean temperatures than we’ve seen in recent years.
“Atmospheric and oceanic conditions across the tropical Pacific are already taking on some El Niño characteristics. Also, we are currently seeing strong trade winds and wind shear over the tropical Atlantic, and NOAA’s climate models predict these conditions will persist, in part because of El Niño,” Bell says.
“The expectation of near-average Atlantic Ocean temperatures this season, rather than the above-average temperatures seen since 1995, also suggests fewer Atlantic hurricanes.”
NOAAA, hurricane season, insurance, US