Today is the official start to the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season.
It starts the six month season in which tropical cyclones are bound to form in the warm waters of the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico.
Everyone always wants to know what the outlook is every year as we begin our hurricane season. This year’s outlook is just like last year's. Namely, all the different forecast agencies are calling for a ‘slightly above normal’ hurricane season.
This is strictly off the number of storms expected to form based on current trends with sea surface temperatures, and the different global models used to depict tropical cyclone development.
“There has been a clear trend over the past month towards warmer North Atlantic ocean temperatures and a less bullish view on El Nino development/magnitude, both of which favor a more active 2017 Atlantic tropical season than originally thought,” according to Dr. Todd Crawford, Chief Meteorologist at The Weather Company, an IBM Business.
The El Nino phenomena is the big wild card here because a non-El Nino year tends to support more tropical storms and hurricanes developing since we have less wind shear in place.
Keep in mind that strong upper level winds, while conducive for severe weather in the United States, is a storm inhibitor when it comes to tropical cyclone development as it tends to tear the storm apart. In this case, lighter upper level winds will tend to promote a more favorable environment for the tropics to be a bit more active in 2017.
It should be noted that despite the projections, we have no clue as to where these storms will form, and more importantly, where they will track.
I always emphasize this point because I believe it is very important. Regardless of the preseason projections, we must always be prepared here in East Texas.
Back in 1983, there were only four named storms as it was one of the quietest hurricane seasons in fifty-three years. However, one of those storms that formed was Hurricane Alicia, which was the last major hurricane to hit the upper Texas coast.
From 2010 through 2012, we had a very active three year period in which we had nineteen named storms each year during that time span. Despite the active period, none of those storms were a threat to East Texas, which is all that matters in our perception of a particular season.
The bottom line is that regardless of the outlook, the upper Texas and southwestern Louisiana coastline are at risk every year for a land falling tropical storm and hurricane. And of course, it only takes one storm to leave its impact on our part of the state.
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