Atlantic hurricane season officially begins; active year expected

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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – With 2 tropical storms already on the books this year, it may just be a technicality now that Atlantic hurricane season begins today. Tropical Storm Arthur and Tropical Storm Bertha developed in May, only the 5th time on record that 2 storms developed before the official start of the season.

This year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is expecting a total of 13-19 named storms, 6-10 of which becoming hurricanes, and 3-6 major hurricanes. A major hurricane is considered anything at or over category 3 with sustained winds of at least 111 mph. An average season brings 12 named storms, 6 hurricanes, and 3 major hurricanes.

Hurricanes require ocean temperatures of at least 80 degrees Fahrenheit. With plenty of warm water in the Atlantic, Caribbean, and Gulf of Mexico this year, storms will have the fuel they need to develop.

In addition, below average wind shear is expected in the primary tropical breeding grounds which also contributes to more storms. Wind shear measures the change in wind speed and direction as you move up in the atmosphere. When wind shear is high, the tops of thunderstorms get blown off as they try to grow vertically, preventing tropical cyclones from organizing.

Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1st until November 30th. The most activity typically comes in late August through the first half of October.

It is important to remember that “active season” refers only to the number of storms expected to develop. A season can be considered unusually active even if no storms make landfall. On the contrary, a relatively “quiet” season can still produce destructive landfalling hurricanes. That is why preparation is important every single year and should never be based on seasonal forecasts.

Stay with Storm Team 3 for all the latest developments in the tropics this season and track storms along with us in the WSAV Weather App.

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