By Tara Ripatrazone , for CNN Written by
The sky in New York over New York City was overcast on Wednesday morning, but the weather was significantly brighter in the Caribbean, where cloud-free skies heralded the start of the country’s official start to hurricane season.
Forecasters expect the season to start strong as well, forecasting a 90% chance of an above-normal season. That would mean a dozen named storms, 10 hurricanes and 4.5 major hurricanes. So far, only one storm has been classified as a hurricane, a rarity when seven or more hurricanes have formed by this time of year.
Will 2018 be the year we see five hurricanes? CNN spoke with Steve Goldstein, Deputy Director of the National Hurricane Center, and Patricia McKenna, Senior Producer of CNN Weather Flipboard, to get some insight into what to expect.
Even though the bulk of the season has yet to arrive, predictions are currently in accord. Here’s what we’ve learned so far.
“We’re seeing a lot of activity in the Atlantic … with 29 named storms so far, which is four above average. … We’re not too concerned with it early … the last five years we’ve had more than one named storm or hurricane per season,” explains Goldstein.
“But the thinking here is if we see some action by this afternoon … as long as that activity remains low to moderate activity, that we should be OK. … If we see activity of 5% or more … we could have a more significant impact.”
Another caveat: He points out that the last few years’ storms have lingered for more than a week — not all that rare.
Is there a timeline to consider?
“There’s no definite timeline for these storms,” he says. “They have to just start and the fact that we haven’t seen a significant storm or hurricane start so far, it gives us a little time to plan for what we’ll have for the rest of the season.”
But it’s important to remember that there is no guarantee of a storm, just for the basics:
“A tropical storm, or below-normal hurricane will remain tropical storm longer than a hurricane … a hurricane has to be able to drive winds over land,” Goldstein explains.
Is it possible the third worst hurricane of the century will happen this year?
“What we have in front of us is three named storms … so we have to have time to plan. … It’s conceivable that we could have three storms in the Atlantic, but the factors that it has to do with are the development of the cyclone … it’s dependent on the steering currents … It depends on the weather in the Gulf and all that kind of stuff. It really is up to us to allow the circulation to evolve, to allow the system to build and strengthen.”
Gulf of Mexico hurricane season begins Thursday
While Goldstein anticipates more activity this year compared to last, McKenna offers up another fun fact: While there has been an increase in storms in recent years, so far this year — when compared to past years — the formation of a hurricane has only happened twice in June.
“One of the unfortunate side effects of this increased level of activity, is that it has enhanced the periods when we do have hurricanes,” she explains. “Now we have shorter hurricane seasons and longer active seasons.”