Busy Carib storm season forecast

A major United States weather service is predicting a busy hurricane season this year.

In its preseason outlook, released on Wednesday, AccuWeather is projecting 15 named storms from June 1 to Nov. 30.

AccuWeather said eight of the storms will become hurricanes, with three being major ones (category three or higher).

Last year, there were 19 named storms, 12 hurricanes and five major hurricanes. Accuweather had predicted 15 named storms, five hurricanes, and two or three major hurricanes.

AccuWeather predicts a “somewhat less activity” than last year, stating that hurricane activity is usually elevated during La Ninas “as they tend to feature weaker westerly winds that are hostile to developing storms.”

“[La Nina] is now starting to taper off a little bit,” said Ken Reeves, director of forecasting operations at AccuWeather.

“But we think it will be strong enough early on for an above average type of year,” he added. “If La Nina went to neutral quickly, it might squash some of the storms especially as the season wears on.”

AccuWeather forecasts that the early season threat area will be the western Gulf of Mexico and the southern portion of the Caribbean.

“As for the mid-to-late season zones, the eastern Gulf and Caribbean will be the focus,” it said in a statement.

Reeves cautioned that this landfall forecast was tentative.

“We’d like to see what happens in the next six weeks, where precipitation starts to fall, what the predominant upper pattern is over the U.S.,” he said. “That will dictate where the ridges [that steer storms] set up.”

AccuWeather says it will release a revised pre-season outlook in six to seven weeks.

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