Image copyright AFP Image caption Potential El Nino weather conditions could put more people at risk from hurricanes
As the Atlantic hurricanes season approaches, one researcher says conditions are right for a more active 2017-like season.
Jesús Hidalgo, a meteorologist at the Centre for Excellence in Ocean and Atmospheric Research, has analysed predictions of this year’s Atlantic hurricane season.
“The chances of a normal season were recently (by estimates from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) downgraded but the chances of a stronger season were also raised,” he said.
The Atlantic hurricane season begins on 1 June and runs through to 31 November.
In the past few weeks, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has revised its previous prediction and now says it expects nine to 15 named storms (ranging from named storms to hurricanes, and up to major hurricanes) which will produce six to nine hurricanes.
Atlantic hurricane season winds It is about whether the air becomes hot, whether the sea surface temperature becomes warm and cold, then which are the moist and which are the dry, rotating surface winds in the storm Source: ESA Interim Hurricane Forecast System
Although the NOAA still predicts a very active season, analysts, including Mr Hidalgo, at the Centre for Excellence in Ocean and Atmospheric Research, think that the chances of the season being stronger or weaker than NOAA’s predictions are.
“The normal yearly intensity range is around 3,960 (meteotsunamis or 3.8 in km), but we are expecting 5,370 (3.2 in km) – 5,890 (3.2 in km) – so up to 12% more intense,” Mr Hidalgo said.
“At least of five of the nine Atlantic Hurricanes this year will be major hurricanes (Category 3 (greater than Category 2) or higher) – 32% more than the previous normal number of major hurricanes,” he added.
Image copyright PA Image caption Hurricanes can bring destructive winds, storm surges and heavy rain
The researchers make an interesting point that El Nino is likely to have “a negligible impact” on the likelihood of major hurricanes happening.
“The best indication is the atmospheric winds which are high due to monsoon influence in central Pacific and west and central Atlantic,” said Mr Hidalgo.
That means a strong El Nino “wouldn’t help a very active season even if it did not begin,” said Mr Hidalgo.
The potential for a very active Atlantic hurricane season comes at a time when extreme weather events are being attributed partly to climate change, which experts say can have a massive impact on the intensity and frequency of extreme weather events.
The task for residents in the Caribbean, as well as those in the US, is to prepare in advance, according to Mr Hidalgo.
“Better preparation will help people have better weather awareness, be aware of their vulnerability, know where to go and how to leave if needed,” he said.