COLORADO SPRINGS, CO (WLOX) - Hurricane season starts June 1, and researchers at Colorado State University have put out their annual extended-range forecast of Atlantic tropical cyclone activity. The forecast is calling for an average to slightly below average year.
On average, the Atlantic sees 12 named storms annually. Six of those become hurricanes, and two of those become major hurricanes.
CSU's forecast is calling for 11 named storms; four hurricanes and two major hurricanes. The forecast is also projecting a slightly lower than normal chance of a major hurricane making landfall on the northern Gulf Coast from the Florida Panhandle to Texas.
Some of the factors considered in making this long-range forecast include the potential for El Nino conditions to form during the peak of hurricane season. El Nino conditions occur when sea surface temperatures along the equator in the eastern Pacific Ocean warm above average. This creates strong winds across the Atlantic that tend to shred tropical systems apart.
Another factor is that waters in the Atlantic have cooled slightly. Tropical systems need sea surface temperatures of at least 80 degrees to form.
But, it only takes one. Don't get caught up in the numbers. It is important to note that it only takes one tropical system to cause problems in South Mississippi.
Hurricane Elena struck the Mississippi coast in 1985. That year was an average year for hurricane activity. In 1979, Hurricane Frederick caused major damage in Mississippi and Alabama. That year was a below average year as well. 1992 was a below average year, but Hurricane Andrew struck Florida and Louisiana and became the costliest natural disaster until Katrina in 2005.
It is important to have a plan ready to go should a hurricane threaten South Mississippi this year.