By Ilyas Choudry, TMO
â€˜Above Averageâ€™ Hurricanes Season Predicted for 2013
Predictions of an â€œabove averageâ€ hurricane season for 2013 could be just what the doctor ordered for many drought-stricken areas of Texas. While hoping that this yearâ€™s season does not bring devastation like that wreaked on the East Coast last year by Superstorm Sandy or by 2005â€™s costliest natural disaster in American history, Hurricane Katrina, a little rain would go a long way toward reviving lakes and streams and reservoirs in the Lone Star State.
Texas State Climatologist Dr. John Nielsen-Gammon recently told a legislative committee that if the current drought, which began in 2011, continues into this summer, it could become the second-worst drought in Texas history.
So while the state is grappling with water shortage problems, the Colorado State University hurricane forecast team has predicted that this yearâ€™s season, which begins June 1, will result in 18 systems becoming at least tropical storm level, earning a name for each. The experts, who have been predicting hurricanes for three decades, say nine of those storms will become hurricanes and four will become major hurricanes. They gauge â€œmajorâ€ hurricanes by categories and say the major hurricanes â€“ category 3 â€“ will carry top sustained winds of at least 111 miles per hour.
These hurricane experts note that the last three years were among the busiest on record for storms. Reporting at the March National Hurricane Conference in New Orleans, the Colorado State team noted that the tropics â€œlook favorableâ€ for an above average season. They say that warmer than usual waters in the Atlantic Ocean and lack of the warm water in the Pacific Ocean (El Nino) lend themselves to more storm activity.
The Colorado State team last year predicted 13 named storms with five of them becoming hurricanes and four major hurricanes. They later increased that prediction to 14 total storms. When the season ended, there were 19 named storms, 10 that became hurricanes and one major hurricane. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrationâ€™s 2012 prediction was 12 to 17 named storms, five to eight to become hurricanes and three of them major.
With more than 98 percent of the state recording some stage of drought â€“ from abnormally dry to moderate, severe, extreme and exceptional drought conditions – much-needed rain from storm activity in the Gulf would be welcomed in parched areas of the state, particularly since Nielsen-Gammon and others who study the climate and weather predict another below-normal rainfall this spring.