Dr. Gerry Bell, lead seasonal hurricane forecaster, NOAA National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center (NOAA)

Don't expect a calmer hurricane season this year, NOAA expert says

This year's hurricane season is not expected to be any milder than the previous year’s, according to the lead seasonal hurricane forecaster for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

“We’re still in a high activity era,” Dr. Gerry Bell said at a National Press Club Headliners Newsmakers Tuesday. He said hurricane activity can generally be determined by looking at dominant climate patterns that can last for decades.

“We’ve been averaging three to four major hurricanes a year since 1995 and as of last year, there’s no indication that that high activity period has ended,” he said.

Climate change remains “one of the things of interest” regarding hurricane forecasts, Bell said. “These are very powerful climate patterns, but they’re not necessarily acting alone.” He said ocean temperatures was one variable that could affect long-term trends.

NOAA will provide a formal preseason outlook in May, well before peak hurricane season hits between August through October, he said.

Regardless of what the final assessment may look like, however, Bell emphasized that preparation is vital.

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