2013 hurricane season prediction: Above-average year

Mother Nature appears to be showing no mercy when it comes to hurricanes.

This year’s Atlantic hurricane season could see 18 named tropical storms with nine forming into hurricanes and four of those increasing into major hurricanes, according to a pre-season forecast released Wednesday.

An average year: 10.1 named storms, 5.9 hurricanes with 2.5 becoming major storms.
Colorado State University’s hurricane forecast team cited an unusual warming of the tropical Atlantic and an anticipated lack of El Nino winds as the primary culprits.

“Typically, El Nino is associated with stronger vertical shear across the tropical Atlantic, creating conditions less conducive for storm formations,” said Phil Klotzbach, who authors the forecast with William Gray of the CSU Tropical Meteorology Project.

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The CSU team warned that the prediction is an estimate, not an exact measure.

“All vulnerable coastal residents should make the same hurricane preparations every year, regardless of how active or inactive the season forecast is,” Klotzbach said. “It takes only one landfall event near you to make this an active season.”

Victims of last year’s costly hurricanes Sandy and Isaac are still reeling from that reality.

The 2012 hurricane season surprised forecasters. A year ago, CSU predicted 2012 would have a less active season with 10 named tropical storms, four reaching hurricane status and two of them being major. Instead, there were 19 named storms, 10 hurricanes and two that reached Category 3 intensity.

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The number of named storms tied 2010, 2011, 1995 and 1887 as the third-busiest seasons. Twenty-eight named storms in 2005 and 20 in 1933 are the most active years since records starting being kept in 1851. 

Predictions from Colorado State and the government’s National Hurricane Center are two of the most followed tropical storm forecasts. The NHC typically releases its forecast in late May. The official hurricane season runs June 1 through Nov. 30.

A major hurricane has sustained winds of 111 mph or greater. CSU’s probabilities for a major hurricane making landfall on U.S. soil in 2013:

  • Entire U.S. coastline – 72 percent (average for last century is 52 percent)

  • U.S. East Coast including Peninsula Florida – 48 percent (average for last century is 31 percent)

  • Gulf Coast from the Florida Panhandle westward to Brownsville – 47 percent (average for last century is 30 percent)

  • Caribbean – 61 percent (average for last century is 42 percent)