Now that hurricane season has officially begun, Riskpulse presented their 2018 hurricane season outlook, giving participants a front-row seat to their analysis of this year’s prospects.
On June 7th, 2018, Jon Davis and Mark Russo, Chief Meteorologist and Senior Weather Analyst, respectively, presented their findings, comparing this year’s data to 2017’s “ultra active” season. The goal of the webinar was to look “at the upcoming season’s prospects” asking one key question: “do things look different than they did a year ago?”
Davis and Russo talked listeners through maps of the 2017 season, as well as graphs that represent hurricane data from as early as 1851, which documented the number of hurricane days per year since 1851. “There were more hurricane days in 2017 than in 2005,” the “most active season [on] record,” according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
2017 was a massive year for storms, with “17 named storms, 7 hurricanes, and 6 major hurricanes.” The ramifications included $282 billion in overall losses” in what Riskpulse referred to as “the costliest storm season on record.” At the heart of the hurricane season—which runs from June 1st through November 30th every year—was a deadly seven week period that affected thousands across the Atlantic basin and beyond. This “period of hyper-activity, both oceanic and atmospheric” was, as Davis noted, “a perfect storm in terms of water temperature in the Atlantic, the Pacific, and the Gulf of Mexico.”
According to Riskpulse: “The 2017 Atlantic Hurricane season will go down in history as one of the most active seasons on record with some of the strongest tropical cyclones ever observed in the Atlantic basin. This resulted in major disruptions to large ports, millions of customers without power, billions of dollars in crop damage, critical delays of shipments and hundreds of millions of dollars in losses for the shipping industry. The Port of Houston was shut down for nearly a week after Harvey, 6.2 million customers in Florida were without power following Irma, Florida alone suffered more than $2.5 billion in crop damage from Irma, and residents of several Caribbean islands were left without food and water after imports were stalled following Irma and Maria. Additionally, UPS reported a loss in its third-quarter earnings report, due in part to disruptions from hurricanes Harvey and Irma.”
Riskpulse analyzed the main development region, the area where “storms come off of Africa and head towards” the Atlantic basin. Three crucial variables combine to create this so-called perfect storm: smoke, dust, and sea salt. Sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies also help Riskpulse anticipate storms. As of now, the SST in the Atlantic Ocean is cooler, as compared to the average of thirty-years’ worth of data, whereas the SST in the Pacific Ocean is warmer. “Both of these [variables] are negatives for Atlantic Basin tropical activity.”
The bottom line? “A below normal tropical storm season is most likely. When we put everything together here, for our key variables: sea surface temperatures, wind shear, how this relates—not only to last year—but historically, the current setup looks much less favorable compared to last year,” Riskpulse reported.
With this in mind, there’s always a chance that things can change. “From a risk standpoint, what we’re watching for and what can change things here comes down to SSTs. The Gulf of Mexico can change, and the fact that we have warmth right now is interesting, especially if we have individual storms,” according to Riskpulse. As the presentation concluded, Davis reminded participants that “even in an inactive season, there can still be impactful storms.”
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