Phil Klotzbach (L) and William Gray. Photo: Colorado State University
The Atlantic hurricane season should be slightly slower than initially forecast, Colorado State University climatologists Phil Klotzbach and William Gray said in an updated forecast on Friday.
The two experts now estimate that eight hurricanes, including three major ones, will emerge this season. In June, they forecast nine hurricanes, four major, with sustained winds greater than 110 mph.
However, they continue to predict a total of 18 named storms will develop over the entire season, which would represent 14 more over the rest of the season, with four having already formed.
Because waters in the eastern Atlantic near Africa have cooled somewhat, Klotzbach and Gray say the development of some systems could be limited.
Nevertheless, if their predictions are accurate, it would still be a busier than normal year. On average, 12 named storms, including six hurricanes, three major, develop each season.
They expect above normal activity mainly because El Niño, the atmospheric phenomenon that inhibits storm formation, is unlikely to develop this year.
“Typically, El Niño is associated with stronger vertical shear across the tropical Atlantic, creating conditions less conducive for storm formation,” Klotzbach said.
Also, the Atlantic remains in an era of heightened tropical intensity, the result of a natural cycle, he added.
At least for the next two weeks, tropical activity near Africa should be slow because of a Saharan dust storm, Klotzbach said.
"The strong Saharan dust layer should really kill anything coming off of Africa for a while," he said.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will update its outlook on August 8. The agency in May called for up to 20 named storms, including up to 11 hurricanes, or what could amount to an extremely active season.