For the fourth consecutive season, NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, issued their seasonal forecast on activity in the Tropical Atlantic. Like other forecasts such as the one issued by Dr. Gray and his forecast team at Colorado State, and the first ever forecast by NEMAS, the folks at NOAA are quite optimistic about what may happen in the 2003 Atlantic Hurricane Season in terms of activity.
In the latest update to their forecast, NOAA indicates that there will be a total of between 12 to 15 named storms, 7 to 9 hurricanes, and 3 to 4 major hurricanes. The reason for this is the presence of conditions synonymous with increased hurricane activity over several decades, which include the period occurring from 1995 to the present. This period of increased activity is expected to last for at least 20 years.
On August 7th, 2003, NOAA issued an update to their seasonal forecast on Atlantic Hurricanes. This is the fourth consecutive year that the United States governing body for weather has issued such a forecast. Other seasonal forecasts such as Dr. William Gray's forecast from Colorado State, have been issued season after season for almost 20 years now.
In addition, NEMAS, the National Environmental and Meteorological Association, has issued its first ever seasonal forecast for Atlantic Tropical Activity. All of these forecasts have been optimistic overall, but the NEMAS and NOAA forecasts are even more optimistic than the one by Dr. Gray's team. NOAA believes that it will be an above average season with at least 12 tropical storms, 7 hurricanes, and 3 major hurricanes, and as much as 15 named storms, 9 hurricanes, and 4 major hurricanes.
The forecast also indicates that the overall activity will range between 120 to 170 percent above the average activity for a season. Moreover, the forecast is 60 percent certain that it will be an above average year, which is slightly higher than its original forecast back in May of 2003. Unlike its counterpart, Dr. Gray's forecast team said the rest of the season would only be slightly above average, with Net Tropical Activity drops from 145 percent to 120 percent of the average.
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NOAA, or more specifically, the Climate Prediction Center, cites climatic conditions synonymous with the active cycles during the years 1955 to 1970, and the recent period of 1995 to 2002. These periods were dominated by favorable upper level winds, and abundance of rainfall from the Sahel region of Africa.
These conditions were supposed to be amplified by the development of a La Nina, or cold phase episode in the Pacific, but the La Nina has not really materialized, or hasn't been as strong as anticipated. Nevertheless, forecasters at NOAA remain optimistic. Meanwhile, the team at Colorado State are a bit more pessimistic with the same number of storms, hurricanes, and major hurricanes as in their earlier forecast, but the activity will be shorter in duration.
Dr. Gray's forecast team cites a variation of the 40 to 50 day Madden-Julian Oscillation as the reason behind the lower expectations. The recent episode of the MJO has had a profound effect on the overall global circulation between the months of June and July.
This change in the overall circulation pattern was not expected, and may also be contributing to the hot and dry weather in the Western United States, the heavy rainfall in the Eastern United States, and the deadly heatwave in Europe.
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Summarizing the 2003 Atlantic Hurricane Season as of the time of this report, we have had already five named storms, and two hurricanes including Hurricane Claudette, which was nearly a Category Two Hurricane prior to landfall. In addition, there have been also three tropical depressions: Tropical Depression Two, Tropical Depression Six, and Tropical Depression Seven.
According to the Monthly Summary for July 2003 by NOAA, an average year would have seen only 1.6 named storms, and 0.6 hurricanes by the end of July. Meanwhile, forecasters at NOAA have indicated that the 2003 season will be above average with between 12 to 15 named storms, 7 to 9 named storms, and 3 to 4 hurricanes, which is slightly higher than what they forecasted in May, 2003. Slightly in contrast, Dr. William Gray and his team of forecasters were not as optimistic.
Although their numbers for named storms (14), hurricanes (8), and major hurricanes (3), were the same as earlier in the year, Gray's forecast lowered its net tropical activity rating from to 120 from 145. Finally, NEMAS, which issued its first ever seasonal hurricane forecast, projected 15 named storms, 10 hurricanes, and 5 hurricanes in an above average year.
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