The 2014 Atlantic Hurricane Season starts on Sunday and it's looking like a below average year in terms of the number of storms expected. The National Hurricane Center is calling for 8 to 13 named storms, 3 to 6 of those becoming hurricanes, and 1 or 2 major hurricanes of Category 3 or higher.
In the Gulf of Mexico, I am expecting 3 to 5 storms. That's down a bit from last year's 7 total storms. The Gulf is also the location for the only Landfall Target Area we can identify this year. We are calling for a hit on the coast between Corpus Christi, TX and New Orleans, LA. It's possible we could see more than one hit in that area.
We developed this forecast by looking at how the heat was distributed in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans compared to normal. The North Pacific is in a warm phase, shifting out of the cold pattern it was in for the last several years. In addition, the Equatorial Pacific is shifting into a warm pattern and we are expecting a mild to moderate El Nino to develop before the end of summer. In the Tropical North Atlantic, temperatures are slightly cooler than normal and expected to stay that way through summer. However, the waters in the northern Gulf of Mexico are warmer than normal.
In looking at past years with a similar temperature profile, we identified 1957, 1983, and 1989 as good analog years. We then looked at the hurricane tracks from those three years and noticed a strong signal. In the three analog years, a total of 7 storms made landfall in Texas and Louisiana, with 5 of those striking within 150 miles of Houston.
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