U.S. forecasters expect above-normal 2020 Atlantic hurricane season -NOAA by Erwin Seba•By Erwin SebaHOUSTON (Reuters) – U.S. forecasters expect an above-normal 13-19 named storms during the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center said on Thursday.NOAA forecasters estimate three to six major hurricanes packing winds of at least 111 miles per hour (179 km/h) may form. The last two years have seen an above-average number of named storms with 18 last year and 15 in 2018.Gerry Bell, lead forecaster with the Climate Prediction Center, said the Atlantic is in a warm cycle of a multi-decadal pattern that has dominated the ocean’s weather since 1995.”We’re predicting this to be an above-normal season, possibly very active,” Bell said.NOAA’s seasonal outlook is consistent with recent academic and private forecasts. Above-average ocean surface temperatures in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico and an absence of high-level El Nino winds that break up storms portend a more active season, researchers have saidAbout half of this year’s named storms may reach hurricane strength, with winds of at least 74 mph. The season formally begins June 1 and ends Nov. 30.
The 2020 season started early with Tropical Storm Arthur, bringing heavy rains to the southeastern U.S. coast this week before dissipating on Tuesday. No storms are currently brewing.
Carlos Castillo, acting deputy administrator at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said the COVID-19 pandemic would affect disaster plans.
„Social distancing and other CDC guidance to keep you safe from COVID-19 may impact the disaster preparedness plan you had in place, including what is in your go-kit, evacuation routes, shelters and more,” Castillo said.
Eighteen tropical storms developed in 2019 including six hurricanes, three of which were major. The average hurricane season produces 12 named storms and six hurricanes, three of which are major.
(Reporting by Erwin Seba, Editing by Tom Brown and Richard Pullin)
This year’s hurricane season is expected to be busier than normal, with forecasters warning of the possibility that the coming months could be “extremely active” for tropical storms and hurricanes.
Scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued their outlook Thursday for the upcoming Atlantic hurricane season, which begins June 1 and stretches until Nov. 30. Experts warned that people should develop disaster preparedness plans early, particularly as the coronavirus pandemic will likely complicate emergency responses to extreme weather events.
“I want to emphasize now is the time to ensure that you have a plan in place,” acting NOAA Administrator Neil Jacobs said Thursday in a news briefing, adding that there is a chance that this season could be „extremely active.”
This year, NOAA’s forecast predicts a 70 percent chance of 13 to 19 named storms with winds of 39 miles per hour or higher. Of those, six to 10 could become hurricanes, with winds of 74 miles per hour or higher, including three to six “major” hurricanes that reach Category 3 or higher, with winds of at least 111 miles per hour. An average season has 12 named storms, of which six become hurricanes, including three major hurricanes according to NOAA.
“The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season is expected to be a busy one,” said Gerry Bell, the lead hurricane season forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.
Conditions in the Atlantic are already lively, and this is the sixth consecutive year that a named storm has formed before the official start of the Atlantic hurricane season. Tropical Storm Arthur formed over the weekend and made its closest approach to the Outer Banks of North Carolina on May 18 but ended up being short lived.
Preseason storms are becoming more common, but NOAA scientists have said that preseason activity does not necessarily portend what to expect in the coming months.
Bell said several factors are influencing the agency’s above-average forecast, including warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Warm ocean temperatures are one of the key ingredients that fuel big tropical storms and hurricanes, and Bell said warmer-than-average conditions are expected to persist in these basins for the foreseeable future.
Researchers are also monitoring a recurring climate pattern known as the El Niño Southern Oscillation that is related to ocean temperatures and wind conditions in the equatorial Pacific Ocean.
El Niño develops when waters in the Pacific are warmer than usual, and these conditions typically increase wind shear in the Atlantic, which can disrupt major storms as they are forming. El Niño’s counterpart, La Niña, develops when the equatorial Pacific Ocean is cooler than average. This climate pattern weakens wind shear over the Atlantic, which can make conditions ripe for stronger and more frequent storms.
NOAA’s forecast shows neutral conditions at present, but there’s a 40 percent probability that La Niña could develop later this summer, which would be “strong enough to further increase Atlantic hurricane activity,” Bell said.
Long-duration changes in sea surface temperatures in the North Atlantic Ocean — fluctuations that are part of what’s known as the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation — have also been driving increased hurricane activity in this region for more than two decades. During warm phases of this climate pattern, storm activity typically increases, and during cool phases, activity typically wanes. Each phase can last anywhere from 20 to 40 years, according to NOAA.
“We’ve been in the warm phase of this decadal oscillation since 1995,” Bell said.
These large-scale patterns are also what makes it difficult for scientists to tease out what impact climate change may be having on Atlantic hurricane seasons.
In a study published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, NOAA scientists suggested that hurricanes around the world have become stronger over the past four decades because of global warming. The research looked at satellite images from 1979 onward and found that the likelihood of a hurricane developing into a Category 3 storm or higher increased by around 8 percent each decade.
But Bell said it’s harder to tease out the role climate change may be playing in Atlantic hurricane activity.
“The Atlantic is a little different from some of the other hurricane basins in that the historical record is dominated by this multidecadal variability and the El Niño/La Niña signal,” he said. “Those are really dominant signals and they are controlling the strength of the hurricane season.”
Still, Bell said, other dangers associated with climate change are clearly a factor, such as rising sea levels that can inundate coastal communities as hurricanes make landfall. Additionally, coastlines around the country have become more densely populated and developed over the decades, meaning more people could be in harm’s way.
And though people should be vigilant every hurricane season, emergency preparedness is particularly important this year because cities and states are still simultaneously grappling with the coronavirus pandemic.
“Social distancing and other CDC guidance to keep you safe from COVID-19 may impact the disaster preparedness plan you had in place, including what is in your go-kit, evacuation routes, shelters and more,” Carlos Castillo, acting deputy administrator for resilience at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said in a statement, referring to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “With tornado season at its peak, hurricane season around the corner, and flooding, earthquakes and wildfires a risk year-round, it is time to revise and adjust your emergency plan now.”
The federal government expects a busy hurricane season for the Atlantic Basin, with six to 10 hurricanes forming, forecasters said Thursday.
The announcement comes against the backdrop of the coronavirus, which will almost certainly impact evacuations and shelter from approaching storms.
Overall, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said 13 to 19 named storms will develop. This number includes tropical storms, which contain wind speeds of 39 mph or higher. Storms become hurricanes when winds reach 74 mph.
Of the predicted six to 10 hurricanes, three to six could be major, packing wind speeds of 111 mph or higher.
“NOAA’s analysis of current and seasonal atmospheric conditions reveals a recipe for an active Atlantic hurricane season this year,” said Neil Jacobs, acting NOAA administrator.
Forecasts include storms that spin up in the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico.
Gerry Bell, lead hurricane forecaster for the Climate Prediction Center, said there is a chance the season could be “extremely active.”
“What matters is we are are expecting another above-normal season and now is the time to prepare,” Bell said.
If predictions hold true, it will be a record fifth consecutive year of above-normal activity. That would beat the previous four-year streak set from 1998 to 2001.
The season officially begins June 1 and runs through Nov. 30. An average season typically spawns six hurricanes and peaks in August and September.
Tropical Storm Arthur kicked off the season a bit early this week as it grazed North Carolina with rain and wind on Monday. The next named storm will be Bertha, followed by Cristobal, Dolly, Edouard and Fay.
Speaking about the coronavirus, Carlos Castillo, acting deputy administrator for resilience at FEMA, said “social distancing and other CDC guidance to keep you safe from COVID-19 may impact the disaster preparedness plan you had in place, including what is in your go-kit, evacuation routes, shelters and more. With tornado season at its peak, hurricane season around the corner, and flooding, earthquakes and wildfires a risk year-round, it is time to revise and adjust your emergency plan now.”
Colorado State forecast: Forecasters expect ‘above average’ storm activity.
NOAA’s forecast follows several earlier this spring that also called for a more active hurricane season.
Last month, meteorologists at Colorado State University predicted 16 tropical storms will form, eight of which will become hurricanes. In the 1980s, Colorado State University meteorologist William Gray was the first scientist to make seasonal hurricane forecasts.
Both the Weather Channel and AccuWeather also predicted a busier than usual hurricane season.
Last year, NOAA predicted nine to 15 named tropical storms would spin up, of which four to eight would be hurricanes. In all, 18 named storms formed, including six hurricanes. The worst storm was Dorian, which tore through the Bahamas.
Storms amid the coronavirus: Hurricanes in a pandemic: ‘Absolutely that’s our nightmare scenario’
Forecasters also released their prediction for the eastern Pacific basin, where 11 to 18 named storms are expected. An average eastern Pacific hurricane season produces 15 named storms.
Eastern Pacific storms and hurricanes primarily stay out to sea and seldom affect the U.S. mainland, although some storms hit the west coast of Mexico. Remnant moisture from the storms can dump heavy rain on the U.S. Southwest, leading to flooding.
Contributing: Kimberly Miller, the Palm Beach Post
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: NOAA hurricane forecast: Busy season expected; up to 19 named storms
May 19 (UPI) — Scientists have used a statistical method known as Bayesian inference to determine the odds of complex extraterrestrial life evolving on alien planets, according to new research published this week.
„The rapid emergence of life and the late evolution of humanity, in the context of the timeline of evolution, are certainly suggestive,” David Kipping, an assistant professor of astronomy at Columbia University, said in a news release. „But in this study it’s possible to actually quantify what the facts tell us.”
Using statistical models, Kipping and his colleagues ran the odds of life and intelligence re-emerging should Earth’s planetary history to begin anew.
The team of scientists wanted to determine the probability of intelligent life emerging on life-friendly planets. Researchers considered four distinct scenarios: life is common but intelligence is rare, life is rare but typically evolves intelligence, life is rare and intelligence is rarer, or lastly, life is common and usually evolves intelligence.
Bayesian statistical inference uses a set of founding beliefs about a system before predicting probabilities. As new information becomes available, the model can update its predictions.
|This remarkable spiral galaxy, known as NGC 4651, may look serene and peaceful as it swirls in the vast, silent emptiness of space, but don’t be fooled – it keeps a violent secret. It is believed that this galaxy consumed another smaller galaxy to become the large and beautiful spiral that we observe today. (ESA / Hubble & NASA, D. Leonard)|
„The technique is akin to betting odds,” Kipping said. „It encourages the repeated testing of new evidence against your position, in essence a positive feedback loop of refining your estimates of likelihood of an event.”
Researchers used their Bayesian models to compare the likelihood of the four different scenarios.
„In Bayesian inference, prior probability distributions always need to be selected,” Kipping said. „But a key result here is that when one compares the rare-life versus common-life scenarios, the common-life scenario is always at least nine times more likely than the rare one.”
This life-friendly probability distribution is based on the fact that life developed so quickly after Earth’s formation. The earliest life forms emerged during the first 300 million years in Earth’s history.
If alien worlds with conditions similar to Earth’s are common, then life should establish itself fairly easily, according to the analysis, published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
|This glittering ball of stars is the globular cluster NGC 1898, which lies towards the centre of the Large Magellanic Cloud – one of our closest cosmic neighbours. The Large Magellanic Cloud is a dwarf galaxy that hosts an extremely rich population of star clusters, making it an ideal laboratory for investigating star formation. (ESA / Hubble & NASA)|
The outlook is less certain for intelligence. The Bayesian models put the odds of life evolving intelligence at three to two — just barely in favor of intelligence, a mere flip of the coin.
„The analysis can’t provide certainties or guarantees, only statistical probabilities based on what happened here on Earth,” Kipping said. „Yet encouragingly, the case for a universe teeming with life emerges as the favored bet. The search for intelligent life in worlds beyond Earth should be by no means discouraged.”