How many hurricanes will form this summer? The government has a forecast


The Atlantic hurricane season starts June 1 and you can expect between five to nine hurricanes to form, which is a little above the average according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Forecasters with NOAA, which just released its official hurricane forecast, “predict a 70 percent likelihood of 11 to 17 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 5 to 9 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 2 to 4 major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of 111 mph or higher),” according to a statement posted on the NOAA web site.

The forecast includes Tropical Storm Arlene, which formed unusually early in April.

The average hurricane season has 12 named storms, six of which become hurricanes, and three of which become major ones. The 2016 season was the most active since 2012, which had 15 named storms, including 7 hurricanes and 4 major ones.

Hurricanes can devastate the Gulf region, as Katrina, Rita and Ike did in years past, but they tend not to hit Central Texas in the same way. Here, the worry tends to be storms that spin off the periphery of hurricanes. Those storms can, in turn, lead to high winds, tornadoes and heavy rainfall that causes the top weather risk in the region: flooding.

The hurricane forecast calls for a 45 percent chance of an above-normal season, a 35 percent chance of a near-normal season, and only a 20 percent chance of a below-normal season.

“The outlook reflects our expectation of a weak or non-existent El Niño, near- or above-average sea-surface temperatures across the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, and average or weaker-than-average vertical wind shear in that same region,” Gerry Bell, lead seasonal hurricane forecaster with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, said in the statement.

As to one of the key questions – whether a hurricane will devastate any coastal communities – the forecast is silent. After all, as a wise man once said, predictions are difficult, especially about the future.


Severe weather likely late Tuesday; more storms expected Wednesday, Thursday

National Weather Service
National Weather Service

Tuesday forecast for Austin: Areas along and west of the Interstate 35 corridor face the threat of severe weather this afternoon and early evening, according to the National Weather Service. The thunderstorms will likely develop mainly after 1 p.m. as temperatures rise to near 84 degrees. Rainfall amounts between a quarter-inch and a half-inch are possible, the weather service says.

At night, the storms will continue but taper off mainly before 1 a.m. The nighttime low temperature is expected to settle around 67 degrees as winds shift from the south to become north-northeast winds of 5 to 10 mph. Some parts of the Austin metro area could see additional rainfall amounts between a half-inch and three-quarters of an inch.

Looking ahead to the rest of the work week, strong thunderstorms continue to pose a threat and isolated heavy downpours could produce flash flooding with Central Texas soil already saturated from recent rains.

  • Wednesday’s outlook calls for a 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms under mostly cloudy skies with a high near 80 degrees.But at night, rain chances ramp up to 50 percent, with a low around 67. Severe storms are possible, with the main threats being damaging winds and hail, the weather service says.
  • Thunderstorms area all but certain on Thursday. Some of the storms are expected to produce heavy rainfall as east winds around 10 mph will become south southeast in the afternoon, the weather service says. Between Tuesday and Thursday, the Austin metro area see as much as 4 to 5 inches of accumulated rain. At night, the chances for storms remains high at 60 percent under mostly cloudy skies and a low temperature around 68 degrees.
  • By Friday, rain chances diminish to around 20 percent as sunshine makes a comeback along with warm temperatures, which should top out at 84 degrees. At night, forecasters are calling for partly cloudy skies with a low around 67.