Major hurricanes pose the greatest threat to people and property
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has announced that it is planning to conduct a near normal Atlantic hurricane season for the year 2018, with 14 named storms and six hurricanes, as well as the potential for one major hurricane. This season will be the 21st since the start of the computer climate models that NOAA uses to predict and forecast hurricane activity began.
Under the 2017 season, NOAA predicted the number of named storms would be 18-22 and that there would be 10-13 hurricanes, four of which would become major hurricanes with a maximum sustained wind speed of 111 mph or greater.
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While there have been 25 named storms in 2017, only two storms, Harvey and Irma, became hurricanes with sustained winds of at least 111 mph – fewer than half of the 19 storms NOAA forecasters expected. The four hurricanes that were forecast to develop missed because of either a lack of wind shear or dry air ahead of them. This means the occurrence of a major hurricane did not occur this year.
Atlantic hurricane season runs from 1 June to 31 November. NOAA also predicted 16 named storms, of which 10 would become hurricanes, four of which would become major hurricanes.
Though four storms formed in 2018, two became hurricanes: Harvey (Category 4) and Irma (Category 5). Of the seven named storms in 2017, five became hurricanes.
Storms named tropical cyclones are classified according to the intensity at which they form. However, forecasting each storm’s intensity, directly or indirectly, has proven difficult.
The most recent seasons ranged from 2011 (29 named storms, nine hurricanes, including two major hurricanes) to 2013 (19 named storms, six hurricanes, including two major hurricanes).
Few will remember this year’s season. But it will be remembered for the misery it caused. The months following Harvey and Irma will recall the disastrous 2017 hurricane season.