NICycloneChaser's WunderBlog

2011 Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook

By: NICycloneChaser, 3:45 PM GMT on May 30, 2011

It's been a long winter for tropical fanatics like myself, but we're now just a day and a half away from the beginning of the 2011 Hurricane Season! So, what do the next six months have in store for us? Let's start with the obvious, the SSTs in the Atlantic.

So, as would be expected with the second year of the La Nina, SST anomalies are behind last year, though last year's were near record. However, SSTs are significantly higher at this point in time than they were in 2008, one of our closest analogue years. Another point displayed by the above images is that waters in the Pacific are much cooler now than at the same time in 2008, which would suggest that we have a more significant La Nina.

If we look at the current shear in the Caribbean, where we tend to see early season development, we see that shear is currently higher in the Caribbean than at the same time in 2008, however shear is forecast to relax over the next week as the jetstream moves northwards.

The Saharan Air Layer is fairly weak in the Gulf of Mexico and non-existent in the Caribbean at this time, so this shouldn't cause much problems for early-season development.

The current La Nina forecasts continue to suggest that we will remain in neutral ENSO conditions throughout the season, in only slight warm-neutral. The forecasts actually suggest that at most we will reach a weak El Nino over this winter, before heading back towards another La Nina. But we'll worry about that this time next year...

I had been thinking just a week or so ago of numbers of around 15 storms, 9 hurricanes and 4 majors. However, with the latest trends in SSTs, I see little reason as to why this season would be any less active than 2008. My forecast is therefor 16 named storms, 9 hurricanes, and 5 major hurricanes.

Meanwhile, the south-west Caribbean is doing its best to get us up and running with the season. We have an area of interest which most models continue to forecast developing into a fairly broad, closed low pressure area, suggesting a depression/storm could form. The models keep it around the south-west Caribbean for the next week or so, before taking it a variety of directions, with few, if any models, showing consistency in either strength or track. We'll have a better idea of these things once it starts to form in the next 24-48 hours. I'll have more on this tomorrow.

Thanks for reading!

The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

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