2017 was a terrible year for hurricanes, after more than a decade of relatively calm weather. Harvey wrecked Houston, Puerto Rico is still trying to recover from Irma, and Nate and Maria were, if less damaging, no less worrying. Now, with the 2018 hurricane season just two months away, the first preliminary forecasts have arrived, and they’re not good.
CNN has a look at the overall predictions, and while they’re under 2017’s overall numbers, it’s still not going to be a calm season:
Forecasters expect a slightly above-average season, with 14 named storms. Seven of those are expected to become hurricanes and three are expected to be major hurricanes. While above the long-term average of 12 named storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes, this forecast is quieter than 2017, which had 17, 10 and six, respectively.
The main question is La Nina and El Nino. El Nino, a warming of the ocean in the Pacific that affects global climate, makes it harder for hurricanes to form with a strong wind shear across the Atlantic. La Nina, which we currently have, is a cooling that is more hurricane friendly. Currently, it looks like we’re heading towards a neutral temperature or weak El Nino. A stronger El Nino would give us a much needed break from hurricane season. Of course, that would also mean intense storms elsewhere and potentially droughts, so it’s not exactly a win, regardless.