Hurricane Season 2014: Predictions Call for Below Average Year
The good news for 2014 is that predictions are calling for a below-average year for storms. The average number is around ten, but that increases to around 12 during the AMO. This year, most forecasts, including the most prominent from both the National Hurricane Center and Colorado State University, are calling for between eight and 12 named storms, with three to six becoming hurricanes and one or two major hurricanes (category three or above).
The main reasons cited for the low predictive numbers include below-average sea surface temperatures across the Atlantic and the presence of wind shear caused by what is turning into a fairly strong El Niño event.
El Niño is a weather phenomenon that results in concentrated heat in the eastern equatorial region of the Pacific Ocean. The increase in heat content in the ocean generates winds that blow east across Central America and across the Atlantic Basin. These winds tend to inhibit the growth of hurricanes. Most observers are predicting a particularly strong El Niño event that should sustain itself through the heart of the Atlantic hurricane season (August and September).
That doesn't mean there isn't cause for concern. It only takes one storm to have a devastating impact on the Houston area. Numerous hurricanes have struck the U.S. coastline during El Niño years, so it is important to be prepared. Fortunately, forecasts are calling for the most likely landfalls of storms this year to be from the mid Gulf Coast eastward, but no one will care about the forecasts if we are staring down a major hurricane in August, so it's a good time to start paying attention.