The Atlantic hurricane season (including the North Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico) runs from June 1 to November 30, with August to October the usual period of peak activity. On May 27, 2015, the Climate Prediction Center (http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released its outlook for the 2015 Atlantic hurricane season. Allowing for various uncertainties (see more on that below), the outlook estimated a 70-percent chance of “below-normal” 2015 season of 6 to 11 named storms (winds of 39 miles per hour [mph] or higher, categorized as a tropical storms), which could include 3 to 6 hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher) and 1 to 2 “major” hurricanes. (Major hurricanes are those rated “Category 3” or higher on the Saffir-Simpson Scale and that have sustained winds of at least 111 mph; the term “major” does not refer to, nor necessarily correspond to, their actual impacts on land and people). One named storm already occurred in 2015: Tropical Storm Ana, in May.
During the season, reports on individual storms as they occur will be available at http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/?atlc.
When storms are completed, reports on individual 2015 storms (including tracks) will be available online at http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/data/tcr/index.php?season=2015&basin=atl.
National Hurricane Center averages for the Atlantic season for the period 1981-2010 are 12 named storms, 6 hurricanes, and 3 major hurricanes. Here are the numbers for the past three years:
2014 – 8 named storms, 6 of which became hurricanes, including 2 major hurricanes;
2013 – 13 named storms, 2 of which became hurricanes;
2012 – 19 named storms, 10 of which became hurricanes, including 1 major hurricane.
The introduction NOAA’s annual tropical storm outlooks makes the following cautions about predicted storm numbers: The outlook is “a general guide to the expected overall nature of the upcoming hurricane season; [the outlook] is not a seasonal hurricane landfall forecast, and it does not predict levels of activity for any particular region. Hurricane disasters can occur whether the season is active or relatively quiet. Residents, businesses, and government agencies of coastal and near-coastal regions are urged to prepare for every hurricane season regardless of this, or any other, seasonal outlook.”
The outlook is a collaboration of the Climate Prediction Center, the National Hurricane Center, and the Hurricane Research Division, all within NOAA.
Information on the 2015 Atlantic hurricane outlook is available in NOAA’s 5/27/15 news release, online at http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2015/20150527-noaa-hurricane-outlook-below-normal-atlantic-hurricane-season-is-likely-this-year.html.
The full Atlantic hurricane outlook, providing more details than the news release, is available from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center, online at http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/outlooks/hurricane.shtml.
Also on May 27, NOAA issued its outlook for the Eastern Pacific and Central Pacific basins. For the Eastern Pacific hurricane basin, NOAA estimates a 70-percent chance of an above-normal hurricane season, with 15-22 named storms, including 7-12 hurricanes and 5-8 major hurricanes. For the Central Pacific hurricane basin, NOAA’s also estimates a 70-percent chance of an above-normal season, with 5-8 tropical cyclones likely.
Meanwhile, as part of Virginia’s preparation for tropical storm season, the Commonwealth’s Hurricane Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday runs May 25-31. The holiday allows people to shop sales-tax-free for various emergency-preparedness items (costing $60 or less), including batteries, flashlights, bottled water, tarps, duct tape, cell-phone chargers, smoke detectors, and first-aid kits. Portable generators priced at $1,000 or less, and gas-powered chainsaws priced at $350 or less, are also exempt during the holiday. More information about this initiative and about preparedness for emergencies in general is available online from the Virginia Department of Emergency Management is available online at http://www.vaemergency.gov/.