Hurricane Season 2012: Day 1
Today is the first day of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season and I am forecasting it to be average to slightly above the long-term averages of 12 named storms, 6 hurricanes, and 3 major hurricanes. However, compared to the 1995-2011 average of 15 named storms, 8 hurricanes, and 4 major hurricanes, the 2012 season will likely be slightly below average. In my first hurricane season forecast released on May 8, 2012, I forecast 12 named storms, of which 6 would become hurricanes, and 3 of those 6 would attain major hurricane status, or hurricanes with maximum sustained winds of 111 mph or greater. Some of the favorable factors for tropical cyclone development for this season were:
Some of the negatives cited during my forecast were:
- Below-average wind shear across much of the Atlantic
- Near to slightly above average Sea Surface Temperatures across much of the Atlantic
- A wetter sahel across West Africa
Models have come into better agreement that Sea Level Pressures across the Atlantic will not be as high as originally predicted. In addition, the SOI index, which is used to help determine how fast or slow an El Niño/La Niña is arising, has not shown a rapid movement towards 0.5 °C (the threshold needed for an El Niño). Furthermore, an analysis of vertical instability and moisture across the Atlantic reveals that it is much more unstable and moist compared to previous years. All considered, I have increased my forecast numbers to 14 named storms (+2.0), 7 hurricanes (+1.0), and 4 major hurricanes (+1.0). Names used for the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season, and their respective pronunciations, can be viewed below.
- The possibility of an El Niño arising during the peak of the hurricane season
- High Mean Sea Level Pressures across much of the Atlantic
Figure 1. A list of names and their respective pronunciations for the 2012 Hurricane Season.
Regardless of the number of named storms, it only takes one to make it a season we will not soon forget. This counts even more so as we approach Hurricane Andrew's 20th anniversary, a Category 5 hurricane that devastated portions of South Florida and Louisiana.
A look at the Atlantic reveals that everything is quiet on the first day of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season. A large TUTT low lies in the Central Atlantic near 51W 28N, with a large TUTT draped across the Lesser Antilles into South America. An anticyclone lies near Panama, supporting a 1008 millibar low embedded within the Monsoon Trough. A tropical wave extends from 31W/03N to 29W/11N and is moving west at a fast pace. In the Gulf of Mexico, an upper level trough is bringing heavy tropical rains to the state of Florida. The East Atlantic has been overtaken by SAL. Nothing is of current concern for development.
Figure 2. Water Vapor imagery of the Atlantic.