WASHINGTON - Meteorological summer has arrived at last! Yes, June is here and that means humidity, mosquitoes, and sunburns will be the norm over the next three months. It also means the official start of what could be an active 2016 Atlantic hurricane season.
Despite only officially beginning today, we have already had two named storms that predated the start of the season. Hurricane Alex formed back on January 13, the first hurricane to form in that month since an unnamed hurricane back in 1938. Alex was followed by Tropical Storm Bonnie off the South Carolina coastline on May 27. This is only the third time on record that two storms have formed prior to the official start of the season, with the others coming in 1951 and 2012.
Forecasters-- including your FOX 5 Weather Team-- are generally calling for an average to above average hurricane season this year. Most expect it to be the most active hurricane season since 2012, which saw 19 named storms and 10 hurricanes-- including the notorious Hurricane Sandy in late October.
The chief reason sighted for increased tropical activity is a shift in the global weather patterns from an El Niño state to a La Niña state, which is currently taking place in the equatorial Pacific Ocean. This is where water temperatures at the surface in this region are cooler than normal. This leads to less wind shear-- the changing of wind speed/direction with height-- over the tropical Atlantic, which creates a more favorable environment for storms to form. Another big factor is the abnormally warm water temperatures in the western Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and around the Caribbean, which could give storms the extra boost as they travel westward across the Atlantic.
So when should you be on guard? The hurricane season officially lasts from June 1 until November 30, but the most active time period is typically the late summer and early fall months. Despite the strong start, we still favor the most active period around this time, as well potentially even lasting longer than usual into the fall months as La Niña continues to gather strength in the Pacific.
This does not mean we will get off scot-free during the early summer, however. In fact, models are already hinting at the potential for another storm as early as next week in the Gulf of Mexico. If it is able to develop into a storm, it could be Colin, our third of the season.
Stick with the FOX 5 Weather Team as they track the tropics all summer long!