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Hurricane History and the 2015 Tropical Forecast

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EASTERN NORTH CAROLINA - Now that we have made it through winter and spring…summer is nearly here, as is Hurricane season. The Hurricane season starts June 1st and runs until December 1st. As we kick off the 2015 hurricane season, here are a few facts from past storms. Last year, Arthur came ashore in eastern North Carolina and was the only Atlantic storm to make landfall in the southeastern U.S. Arthur moved quickly, in and out of the area, but still kicked up a fuss right at the Fourth of July holiday. Still, 2014 was a quiet year, with eight named storms, six hurricanes and two were major. Predictions for an upcoming season, are just that, predictions. Researchers at North Carolina State University predicts four to six named storms with one to three reaching hurricane strength and one being a major storm, which is a category three or better. That is significantly below an average year. This spring, Colorado State University released a prediction of seven named storms, three reaching hurricane status and one major storm. On an average year, in the Atlantic, there are 12 named storms, six becoming hurricanes and three being major storms. But, if that one category three storm made landfall on a southeastern U.S. coast, it would have a major impact. Predictions are good for a peace of mind and planning, but reality is, we should be prepared regardless of the prediction. In 1999, Dennis and Floyd were almost back to back and created an enormous amount of flooding in our area. First, Dennis came ashore and remained strong and a slow mover, well into central North Carolina. This spread flooding over a large area of the state. Floyd then hit the area from the south to the north and compounded the problem in this already soaked, part of the country. In 1999, we were average in the number of storms at 12, with eight hurricanes and five major storms. In 2011, Irene made landfall and sat over our area, producing quite a bit of wind damage and torrential rains for an extended period of time. Irene was one of 19 named storms in a year that saw seven become hurricanes and four were major. This year, we have seen warmer ocean temperatures in the Gulf, western Atlantic, the Gulf Stream and Caribbean than in 20-14. But, we are seeing cooler sea surface temperatures along the African coast, west to over half way across the Atlantic. These weather patterns have effects on hurricane development. The cooler water is in an area where we see several storms form. As for the warm water temperatures at this point, these are where early season storms develop. In June, those are The Gulf, The Caribbean and western Atlantic, near the US east coast. El Nino is part of the reasoning behind this year's lower predictions. El Nino is the warming of the Pacific waters near the equator. Here you can see the indication El Nino is in position to create a disruption of the upper level flow needed for a more active hurricane season. As a normal hurricane develops, it needs the wind flow, in at the surface and rising to be evacuated at the top. This creates a development environment and aids in a storm gaining strength. With El Nino, the upper level pattern change in wind flow disrupts that environment. The wind shear aloft, in effect, cuts off the top of that development by disrupting that necessary flow. With the state of El Nino, as the Atlantic Hurricane Season is set to start, the indications are in place for a quieter Hurricane Season as shown by the preseason predictions. But, as always, they're only predictions and we will be tracking all season long and alert to the severe weather dangers of tropical storms and hurricanes, when they do occur.

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